My job sent me to an environmental conference last Friday, the PIEC, where I was delighted by the chance to attend a panel discussion featuring authors of "water books," themed with the important question, Can Water Books Make a Difference in the Smart Phone Era?
This question turned out to be largely rhetorical, because everyone on the panel had published a book. Not much suspense there, waiting to hear whether they thought books were still a good idea.
The discussion was quite interesting, though, and included acknowledgement that the impact of a book is quite a bit slower -- certainly slower than the impact of, say, a blog. And light years slower than a tweet!
Of course, the trade-off for speed is the room and time for depth and subtlety of knowledge and exploration within the subject and in the writing itself. And whether a book has a greater impact than something like a newspaper story was not so easy a question.
Overall, it made for a good discussion. It was especially heartening to hear so many smart folks talk passionately about their faith in communication -- and books in particular -- to help us solve the puzzle of how to have a better, less exploitative relationship with the planet.
And getting paid to listen to writers talk about books? Perfection itself!