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    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Digital Goes Ink

    The world's oldest newspaper founded in 1645 by Sweden's Queen Kristina, has become a Web-only publication as of Jan 1st. Its sparked a bit of debate with past editors weighing in that "it's a cultural disaster," said Hans Holm, who served as the chief editor of Post-och Inrikes Tidningar for 20 years. "It is sad when you have worked with it for so long and it has been around for so long."

    Queen Kristina used the publication to keep her subjects informed of the affairs of state, Holm said, and the first editions, which were more like pamphlets, were carried by courier and posted on note boards in cities and towns throughout the kingdom. The paper has morphed into more or less legal announcements for corporations and government agencies. Apparently its circulation was only around 100 subscribers now. Despite its online transformation, Post-och Inrikes Tidningar remains No. 1 on a ranking of the oldest newspapers still in circulation compiled by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers.

    The questions are 1) is Digital so bad? 2) Will it help? 3) How is this culturally significant?

    Nostalgics will say its bad, and it is always bad for a cultural landmark to disappear but on the other hand, saving a few trees is never bad.

    The internet is a much larger audience than the newspaper could have possibly achieved before, meaning it can be revived through proper linking and readership.

    The big question is how does this affect us as a society? Surely it cant be preserved in its current state since the majority of younger generations do more reading online. The death of the newspaper was a worry once the advent of the Internet was beginning to be realized. Books and newspapers will never fully disappear but become integrated with online context that allow for greater audiences as well as being more eco-conscious. Even that is debatable with the creation of e-waste. Google has been running an e-library project which digitizes 1000s of books in various educational institutions. How will digital life impact this information and what change will take place in how its absorbed in a new format?

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