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Our print-digital divide

It was interesting that Kathleen Parker’s Dec. 30 op-ed column, “Vanishing ink,” opened with the final words of Steve Jobs. Few people deserve more credit for the transition of media from the old analog format to the digital format of today. This serves as a reminder of the evolution of stories. 

One could easily argue that methods used well before print were far more personally engaging and, indeed, richer. Oral traditions traveled generations with ease for thousands of years. Spoken tales were exchanged in a unique and individualized manner, offering far more of what Ms. Parker described as a “full-on sensory experience” than did print, since storytellers can make use of audio and visual cues and there was an extraordinarily intimate relationship between author and audience.

Nonetheless, when print came along, there was no turning back. At the end of the day, the digital arena, like all technology, is a trade-off: You may lose a little bit of those small moments of intimacy you once had. But, like its analog brother, it opens up more new worlds to explore.

Jordan Yoder, Bradenton, Fla.

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To Kathleen Parker’s paean on the decline of print and the joys lost with it, I would add the following story:

I lived in Tucson in the 1980s, and one morning I decided, on a whim, to take my mom’s golden retriever to the top of the driveway. “Julie, time to get the newspaper,” I instructed. One or two follow-up lessons was all it took. Then, with that magic phrase as a preamble, opening of the back door would result in an automatic and unsupervised daily treat. Unfailingly, the morning paper would be walked into our house with unbounded enthusiasm attached to a wagging tail.

On one particularly memorable occasion we found Julie struggling with the Sunday edition — and the neighbor’s copy, too — in one mouthful, with numerous drops along the way. Her eyes said it all: “Nobody told me I was only supposed to get one!” It was a fitting tribute to the owner-pleasing, overachieving traits this wonderful breed is famous for.

I don’t believe any iPad owner is going to trust his dog, even as one as gentle as a golden retriever, with the task of fetching his electronic gadget.

Jeff Niemuth, Reston

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