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Synopsis

Like Henry Petroski’s The Pencil, David Levy’s 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 kinds-letters and credit card receipts, business memos and books, television images and web pages-yet 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 today’s technologies, particularly the personal computer and the World Wide Web, are having analogous effects to past inventions-such as paper, the printing press, writing implements, and typewriters-in 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.

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