Synopses & Reviews
A fascinating, insightful, and wonderfully written exploration of the document.
Like Henry Petroskis The Pencil, David Levys Scrolling Forward takes a common, everyday object, the document, and illuminates what it reveals about us, both in the past and in the digital age.
We are surrounded daily by documents of all kindsletters and credit card receipts, business memos and books, television images and web pagesyet we rarely stop to reflect on their significance. Now, in this period of digital transition, our written forms as well as our reading and writing habits are being disturbed and transformed by new technologies and practices.
An expert on information and written forms, and a former researcher for the document pioneer Xerox, Levy masterfully navigates these concerns, offering reassurance while sharing his own excitement about many of the new kinds of emerging documents. He demonstrates how todays technologies, particularly the personal computer and the World Wide Web, are having analogous effects to past inventionssuch as paper, the printing press, writing implements, and typewritersin shaping how we use documents and the forms those documents take. Scrolling Forward lets us see the continuity between the written forms of today and those of the past.
. . . it's a book that changed the way I relate to the world around me. . . This book changed the way I thinkand, more importantly, the way I feelabout written language, which is to say it changed the way I think and feel about time and text, mortality and materiality, meaning and being." Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
"A masterpiece. Insightful, penetrating, and beautifully written. [Levy] takes us on a personal journey that reveals the essence of documents, their pragmatic, their communal, and their spiritual roles, roles that are often intertwined but go unnoticed. . . . This book will speak to a wide audience, helping us all better understand how we create meaning for ourselves and others." John Selly Brown, former Director of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, coauthor of The Social Life of Information
"A fascinating and original personal mediation and cultural exploration . . . This book will change forever the way you regard the written word." Deborah Tannen, author of I Only Say This Because I Love You
"A nuanced, sympathetic, and endlessly fascinating portrait of our most ubiquitous servant and companion: the document . . . Levy's discussion goes far beyond the usual hype and techno-mystique to focus on the deepest questions of human communication and meaning. That he manages to bring all this off with warmth and good humor is not the least of the gifts this book offers." Norman Fischer, author of Success and former Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center
"Absorbing . . . [Levy] is both adept in new technologies of writing and steeped in traditional ones . . . Refreshing to anyone weary f the platitudes of high-tech hyperbole and indignant old guard nostalgia." Geoffrey Nunberg, commentator on Fresh Air and editor of the American Heritage Dictionary and The Future of the Book
"Fascinating . . . Levy provides a rich contextpersonal, historical, philosophical, spiritualfor understanding these humble artifacts of human thought and human sharing." David Weinberger, NPR commentator and coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto
"Questions about how books and libraries will fare in the digital age . . . are elevated to exquisite and philosophical explanations of how we humans find meaning in life." Deanna Marcum, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources
About the Author
David M. Levy has a PhD in computer science from Stanford University as well a diploma in calligraphy and bookbinding. He was a researcher at Xerox and is currently a professor in the Information School at the University of Washington. He is also the author of Mindful Tech. He lives in Seattle, Washington.