Or is it? Apocalyptic rumour-mongering, rife in the media, declares that the book as we know it is dead, and that, indeed, everything in our lives will soon become virtual. This is dramatically prophesised in sound-bite form in a recent podcast of BBC Radio 3's wonderful 'Arts and Ideas' programme (here <http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio3/r3arts/r3arts_20110627-1834a.mp3> from minute 13:44 onwards). The author David Boyle declares that 'the more virtual our lives are... the more people cling to what is real... If we lose touch with the difference between real and imaginary, between real and virtual, we will soon be forced to use virtual doctors and virtual teachers, which we won't really want to do.'
This apocalypticism is seen throughout history at moments of intense text technological tranformation. So, for example, the emergence of print caused consternation, as numerous literati declared manuscript to be the only 'true' form of written communication; and mechanization in the nineteenth century was bemoaned for decades by artists and writers. Still, important issues arise from these periods of transformation, and among those that need to be urgently addressed are the intentionality and functionality of visual media and digital technology, particularly for representing three-dimensional objects, like books, manuscripts, and paintings. This is why this conference on Monday 5th September in London (<http://digipal.eu/blogs/news/symposium-provisional-schedule/>) and this one on Friday 9th in Cambridge (<http://parkerkeio2011.wordpress.com/>) promise to elicit interesting debate, and perhaps the beginnings of a more united theorizing and conceptualizing of the form and function of the digital.