Humankind stands on the brink of a threshold of a new post-global era. Perhaps we should take slight pause to reconsider our possible future prospects, following the universal general system observation that: “everything in space is in complex motion that is fundamentally random and stochastic in pattern.”

We remain earthbound and it has only been in the last century that we have rapidly developed the rocket technologies that have entailed our repeated and increasing missions into the depths of outer space. Early experiments (Biospheres 1 and 2) proved simply how incredibly complex is the challenge of sustaining life artificially on-board floating greenhouses in these depths of outer-space, where we simply cannot expect to simply, deterministically occur the natural integration of human-made biomes for indefinite self-sustaining futures. Nor can we simply colonize Outer space or distant geological objects in Outer Space in a manner that would not critically depend upon periodic but vital and indefinitely long-term resupply and support from the earth.

We have been discovering these truths about our relative earthboundness of all living systems that are yet known, just during the same era in which we are coming to realize the inherent circumscription of the earth and its bio-geophysical systems platform for the perpetuation of life on earth into the indefinite future. We have arrived at the edge of the human post-historical “Anthropocene” (the global age of Human Kind) to realize the very real possibilities not only of our own mass extinction but of human caused mass extinction of much or most of life on earth.

My science fiction writing, conceived since the late Sixties, and somewhat buttressed by reading Asimov’s “Foundation” Trilogy, witnesses an alternative future of “Space-Bound” humankind not as Star Trekkies or Star Warriors who travel at many times greater than the speed of light, but as deep Space Voyaging super-ships the population of which are permanent members of the crew and life-time colonists traveling in space in the hope that their future generations might find suitable places in the vaster Cosmos, increasingly distant from our Sun, to establish new worlds and new “planets of life” if not Trekkie “living planets.

Space voyaging remains a primary long term goal of human civilization on earth (and beyond earth) and this system of deep space voyaging will long depend upon its capacity to periodically interact with other stations and vehicles, all of which are in some kind of permanent complex motion in Outer Space. Future humankind taking on the evolutionary challenges of survival and reproductive survival in the vastness and emptiness of Outer Space is one that seeks to overcome the challenges beyond our threshold of remaining earthboundness and dependence exclusively upon earth’s resources for our continuation, growth and support of deep Outer Space efforts.
Perhaps in time, after the fashion of H. G. Wells, but not in the form of the underground “Morlocks” and childlike “Eloi.” Rather, they may well prove to become Space-bound Human species that evolved itself to be dependent upon its own capacities in survival of life across the vast emptiness Space. This will not be of the Age of Homo aquarius, but perhaps a new form (or alternative evolved forms) of “Homo mobilitas.”



Within my own lifetime, from the late 1950s until now, I have witnessed the gradual demise of the conventional hard-copy book as a central focus of one’s evening time after a hard day of work and making a living. It did not come all at once, but in small doses and dribbles over the decades. First it was the Silver Age of black and white TV, and the weekly visits to the local or city library had to compete increasingly with prime-time shows: weekly sit-coms, “The Twilight Zone,” hourly serials, weekly variety shows, and many of the latest movies from the box office, as well as the often repeated “classic” filmographies.

I learned to read with writing and drawing pictures at school, watched Gemini and Apollo space launches, cut my teeth on an early Dr. Seuss monthly subscription, and then there was “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak. The Sear’s Catalog, “National Geographic,” and Jacques Cousteau were daily and weekly affairs until my mom could afford our first and last set of “World Book” Encyclopedias, which became my mainstay reference source through elementary school even into High School. I remember I read a lot in and out of school during those years. Reading interesting books and magazines opened up the world for me in a way nothing else seemed possible to do short of first-hand experience, even if my world seemed basically a solitary one.

Our first color television did not come until high school and our move to a better (middle-class) neighborhood. Local bookstores still abounded within a short driving distance from my home. Nice new books could still be bought on a monthly basis with the leftovers of my small allowance and pocket-money earned from doing yard-work for different people. My time in the USMC in the second half of the 70s interrupted my literacy development, not all for the worse, for after a couple of years I came to depend upon and frequent the base library, and by the final year I began penning my first manuscript.

Computers were for myself at least still rather primitive machines, more a thing of the imaginary future than of any recent immediate experience. Recording devices still included phonograph records of various sizes, 8-track tapes and small one hour cassette tapes that frequently lost their thin ribbons. My first computer experience was composing instructions in MS DOS on a computing system in the computer lab on campus in the early 80s. It was a line printer print-out of a nutritional experiment and my diet.

By the early 80s it became a major luxury acquisition for all the kids (now adult) to get together and pitch in cash to buy a large microwave oven for our mom on Mother’s day. This was an immediate labor and energy saver—cooking over the stove or by the oven soon became a less and less frequent preoccupation. I still had a manual typewriter and then an electric typewriter for my first few years through all of the 80s, and I relied heavily upon local stationary and copy shops to do the manuscript printing of my first texts. By 1990 and the acquisition of my first Mac Classic computer, I had had almost 10 different electric typewriters with increasingly advanced memory functions, but nothing could match my first word processing program on my Mac with all of 35 megabytes of storage.

During this decade, inter-library loan from the university or county libraries were my main source of information. Weekly and monthly News Magazines—like “Newsweek,” “Time,” “Life,” and “Look,”—popular periodicals common to me as a store-front window display for graphic, nitty-gritty information about the larger world (Vietnam, campus protests, assassinations, scandals, elections, the Olympics, etc.) which along with the evening News broadcast on Television, were major sources of information and influence that became increasingly displaced, gradually in the background, and at the time quite unbeknownst to myself, to something eventually to be called the “Internet” and the “World Wide Web.”

The decade of the 90s represented the giving up of my typewriters and the creation of little floppy disk files for most of my texts and writing. Most research at the time was still primarily by letter and interview—resources through the Internet were at the time insufficient for the level of textual work I had then been doing. Card Catalogs were disappearing from central position in libraries, but information on micro-fiche and micro-film could still be utilized from special collections and storage. I remember I came to fruition with 35 millimeter photography and VHS videography, but by the late 90s this forms of recording were being replaced with increasingly sophisticated digital visual recording devices.

By the 2000s I made the mistake of thinking I could establish my own publishing primarily on-line through the Internet and a website, which is this “Lewis” platform, but I was naive, penniless and un-business minded in my efforts. What since the first decade of the 21st Century has taught me more than anything is the increasing rapidity of change and technological innovation and invention, and the increasingly rapid replacement of “old technology” for new.

Now, almost a quarter century later, I see previously unimagined knowledge-information revolutions in genetic information analysis and collection, and in the application of highly advanced artificial intelligence applications and systems. I no longer need to write my own rejection letters and I can go fully to my own self-publishing of “shake and bake” book of minimally sufficient quality and global visibility to no longer waste my time with conventional publishing houses.

By 2010, we got rid of our 32 inch Samsung tube TV for our first Flat Screen. I was then volunteering weekly with our local city “Friends of the Library” and my main job sorting incoming books for sale or for recycling was largely focused on weekly trips to the couple of dumpsters in the back of the library with two shopping cards full of old “World Book” Encyclopedias and other book sets not likely to sell in the bookstore. The shelf-space of sellable books was more important than the many tons of Encyclopedias and “National Geographic” magazines and old phonograph records thus sent to the burn-pits.

Now I live in a world of some strange existential paradox for my own lonely self. I remain a book collector but not a dealer. I cannot escape the compulsions of my own biblio-philia that has been the main by-product of my lifetime. It is weird to me that at the final mile of my life-time I’ve come full circle in may ways, and that I can now fully publish almost all of my life’s work in writing but that this work will be buried almost infinitely deep by a vast morphing “The Thing” Internet to be read by almost no one in the world even with worldwide instantaneous connectivity. I have gone to this “bloggishing” to produce digestible segments of writing that, in this particular case, has already grown a couple of paragraphs too long to be bothered by our “text minded” new audience.

Now we reach ever so shallowly into our own singularly deep future, I am finding advanced A.I. able to create instantly new texts that I would struggle weeks or even months on my old typewriters. I am, in retrospect, somewhat glad for my advancing age and my biblio-philia. I am increasingly sad though for the demise of the central position of the hard-copy book and conventional publication methods during the final phases of my own life on earth. I have no way of knowing now for certain, in a hard factual manner, whether the next cheap version of a book I buy on-line now will be either produced by an intelligent seeming robot, a real person, or is just another bungled editing job with instant, print-on demand, all-in-one publishing.

Nowadays I can no longer read almost any but very large print without a pair of glasses. I keep reading glasses distributed all over my bookshelves, and not being able to find a convenient pair becomes a major frustration. I do not now care so much that I’m personally leaving a much better world behind where once upon a time books on a conspicuous shelf were a common household treasure, rather than a fancy “entertainment system” stuck on a wall. I do care very much for the kind of non-book world my grandchildren will be inheriting, glued as they are to you-tube, wireless, digital phones, and sophisticated game consoles. It seems to be a world where no one really knows any longer for certain quite what they are really getting for their buck.

Books, like vinyl records, old Mac Classics and typewriters, will continue on a limited scale in an unlimited world as a niche in collector’s markets (and some things will be very collectible while most things will be common and not worth the price of on-line used books.) In the long run human descendants will unearth the by-products of our civilization in the age of the late Anthropocene. The artifacts and upper stratigraphic layers will consist of many kinds of non-biodegradable plastic. My world my have lost its relevance and meaning before its end, and that was but a few short decades ago, but at least I can promise in good faith that this essay was not produced by a modern artificial intelligence application.

In short summary, it seems as if the demise of conventional literacy as a diagonalized form of cultural transmission of information is signaled by the final passing of the last generation of humans who were born and raised before the advent of the Internet and digital information systems. Never again in the history of humankind will the hard-bound book be the centerpiece and fulcrum of our human-made world. Future post-digital generations will know and accept as natural and given increasingly and near-totally horizontalized forms of cultural transmission, and hence, kinds and degrees of change in the world that perhaps humankind in the long run was not evolutionarily developed to cope with—perhaps at the end of the Anthropocene Era a new kind of Homo sapiens digital will arise as the dominant subspecies.



Societies founded in traditional vertical “oral” transmission of culture found the outside world threatening as a potentially disruptive yet all pervasive source of uncontrollable change. Indeed, the basic theory of social movements and structural transformation of systems rises out of these basic “traditional” considerations of religious based, inherently conservative worlds.

Societies founded upon the rise of diagonal “broadcast” transmission of culture from one or a few to a great many, are societies that substituted tradition with convention, and essentially replaced religion with socio-structural ideologies framed mostly in terms of the super-organic “nation-state.”

In these societies, the threat of change arose not only from patterns of deviance leading to radicalization from within in the competition for authority and power derived from so many different multiple sources, but also from the geo-politically competitive threats of other nation-states often sharing a common unsettled border or competing within a larger world system for finite resource pools and reservoirs.

Now, in a post-historical, posit-ideological global world order in which socio-structural interdependencies within a global system renders state and non-state operators and competitors increasingly aware of their ties of mutual interdependence and common stakes in a concept of the global commons as a worldwide resource ocean, the threat in a globally horizontalized society comes not from the break down of national identities directly, but from the competition of infinite alternative virtualized realities and alternative plausible worlds that arise in a structurally open global society.

Ideologies become flipped on their heads in which what matters most are the party and partisan policies and platforms that control elections and determine the reigns of control of government in a global context. The competition is for credibility, control over global change and development, and in the context of increasing finite resource scarcity and rising human resource demand, the reemergence of a “survival of the fittest” collective sense of virtual reality running into the absolute wall of actual world limitations.

With rising social-global environmental circumscription, we will come back full circle to a world not dominated by a single modern dictator or political-economic tyrant or demagogue, but rather by the increasing rise of the war of all against all played out daily on the Internet and in the World Wide Web with false promises of utopian enrapturing and salvation and future unlimited prosperities.

The rise of these virtualized alternative worlds—half real and half make-believe—will challenge basic identity and socialization processes that venture to radical extremes beyond the normal boundaries of the self in traditional or conventional identity processes.

Sense of solidarity and belonging to traditional or conventional constructs may become increasingly challenged by new forms of identity and socialization processes that hold for the individual equivalent in-dubious or non-discrepant subjective inevitability and sense of plausibility of social reality.

Traditional and conventional forms of solidarity and authority will thus yield itself to the contagion of crowds and the narcissism of individual ego among like-minded people who may come from around the world.



We may becry the general loss of fundamental literacy skills, in referencing, research, critical writing and critical reading, that seems to be occurring as a result of the global digital transformation of human knowledge transmission and storage systems.

The movement away from books to hard-drives linked by software into systems of translative articulation, has necessarily entailed a substitution and displacement of emphasis away from critical conventional literacy skills toward greater Internet and computer technical skills.

But the move away from conventional forms of print-based literacy to forms of computer literacy linked to gaming, word processing, web-surfing and technical computer literacy seems as inevitable as it is probably historically and developmentally irreversible.

We can reference in the more gradual former transformation from oral-based primitive systems, which nonetheless provided frameworks for cultivation of unusual cognitive skills and styles relating to long-term memory for “singers of epic tails” and perhaps forms of cognitive integration not found but rarely in the modern world, toward increasingly “book-wormish” orientations of the lonely-writer in his writing garret.

We are moving from a print based erudition and mastery of a language like English (or any of the other world dominant languages) that largely defined a style pattern of a world civilization connected with its knowledge contexts in traditional forms of literature and oral tradition, toward a mastery of landscapes of a virtual world that is dynamically growing and changing from minute to minute and that is virtually unlimited and which only coincidentally maps to the real world.

But there remains perhaps another level of cognitive functioning in which different forms of literacy may come to play a critical part, and this relates to the reality testing or critical function to distinguish truth from the untrue, and the actual reality from the virtual reality. This is a kind of critical cognitive capacity that does not belong alone and only to digital literacy, but which has been evident in the influence of important tests upon the believe and behavior of many people.

It is the inability in such contexts to not be able to distinguish truth from fiction in the symbolic mediation function of means and alternative modalities of information transmission. There may be occurring in advanced digital literacy the critical incapacity to distinguish what is actual in the world unmediated by computing knowledge systems, and what is virtual and made real only through the mediation of such computing systems.

The rise of literacy of whatever functional forms and transformational effects of its embedding cognitively in the personality of the literate individual, has been the foundation in our shared history for the rise of public knowledge as a global secular worldview in which scientific factuality and rationality has played a critical role in the transformation of human systems.

At the same time, we can see in the symbolic reification of religious systems of belief and practice, expressed and justified primarily through religious texts, many of which are treated as sacred and thus above the world of humankind and beyond their capacity to adjudicate for veracity and superstition.

As a new form of digital electronic literacy may arise, particularly what we might call a form of long-distance “conversational” secondary literacy, there may be occasion to worry whether or not there are third party interests involved in the impersonal manipulation and systematic distortion of computer-based information to foster credibility and suspend systematically critical faculty.

We have only to look at the widespread influence of untestable and unproven conspiracy theories, largely the product of wild imaginations, to foster, encourage and thus create a widespread band-wagon movement that can become armed and dangerous as a mechanism of manipulation and narcissistic control.

Such a world can even take scientific worldview and received truth and distort it and discredit it to create plausible alternative counter-scientific versions of reality that are in the final analysis anti-scientific and ideologically closed and self-fulfilling.



My life has been defined by books, and now as I approach my senior years I find books no longer serving the main purpose or values (of print-literacy, knowledge storage and transmission) that they did sixty years ago. Well can I call myself a bibliophile ever since I was a young child. A trip to the local public library to browse the shelves and borrow some interesting titles was the major event of my week, far more fulfilling than an evening spent watching a black and white television set.

There will still always continue to be books printed and published for special purposes, fulfilling niche markets or even regular best-seller bandwagons, but the book as a primary agency of literacy and knowledge transmission has fallen by the wayside as a niche publishing industry, displaced and supplanted more and more by the lucrative, boundless market of the personal computing system connected to the Internet.

Volunteering a decade ago at the friends of the library, in the back sorting room bringing in all the donations, my main job was to haul out several times each evening in a couple of shopping carts all the books selected for culling out in the public dumpster at the rear of the county library.

Old encyclopedias now may become collector’s items, but few people if any are still using them consistently as a source of valid or reliable information on some esoteric topic, while any information they may need is but a click or two away on the worldwide web. My old dictionaries now serve the main purpose of being bookends on bookshelves rather than as a first reference at my writer’s desk.

Book publishing itself has undergone a critical transformation in which anyone can now print a book out or even have a computer-based “chat robot” create a book that can be printed “shake and bake” on demand, with next to no formal copy-editing or proofing, and readily put on a global book market within a matter of minutes or hours rather than an old-fashioned of days, months or years for snail mail based services to catch up with dynamic book markets.

I have been a cultural anthropologist who has focused on the esoteric field of the so-called “anthropology of knowledge,” and so in witnessing the tragedy of the books it seems appropriate that I should seek to more objectively understand the anthropological background to this global transformation of human systems.

Through all of human prehistory and throughout much of early human protohistory, the main mechanism of cultural transmission, upon which all human systems originally (and aboriginally) have depended for their successful survival, adaptation, reproduction, and integration, has been the oral-based vertical “folk” transmission that occurred inter-generationally from parent to child. In such a world, parents held absolute authority. Such a form of oral transmission is called vertical, being passed “down” from one parent to one child, or one to a few, through the generations.

Human history has largely been the written, recorded history of writing systems, from early pictographic and logo-graphic systems, through the invention of syllabaries, and then alphabets. Transmission and cultural transformation which depended primarily on vertical inter-generational transmission, could then become increasingly diagonalized from one to many, or a few to a great many.

This process increased in diagonalization of the exchange process with increasing rates of cultural transmission and change that became ten or a hundred times more rapid than was possible with oral based systems.

With the advent of computer-based literacy, with the rise of systems of information and knowledge communication and transmission that is increasingly horizontalized (one to all and all to one instantaneously), rates of transformational change have increased exponentially and is now rapidly approaching a global singularity of relatively infinite information instantaneous processed and transmitted and stored, within a single generation.

Oral vertical transmission systems still happen throughout the world, but they have become radically modified in their functional purposes and style within an historical era dominated by print literacy and printed records and literature, just as now print literacy remains embedded in all societies the world over, just only now encompassed and engulf within the “anthropo-cybersphere” of digital, wireless information communication and storage, albeit rapidly undergoing radical transformation from the former function of books to inform and record—functions now mainly served and taken over by interconnected computing systems the world over.

I remain wedded to my conventional, increasingly old-fashioned and anachronistic, if now quite obsolete, books. I love my books with interesting covers and titles without regret. As a digital migrant I remain a stranger in a strange new world. No one today refers on a regular basis to a hard-copy encyclopedia, even if some may still collect sets of encyclopedias. It has been a long time since I’ve looked a word up in a conventional bound hard-printed dictionary rather than on the worldwide web, and now my set of dictionaries primarily serve as oversized book-ends on my shelves.

My wife chides me that when I pass she will give Viking send-off on a raft with my body burning on top of all my piled up books. I have been a writer for most of my adult life—a fairly lonely life, but now I have accumulated a large number of mostly digitized manuscripts that I don’t know what to do with.

Since getting into new forms of “on-demand” self-publishing with a global marketplace, I’ve come to the realization that I am casting published texts and titles into a bottom-less digital black-hole. They will be most probably self-published, the majority of my lonely literary oeuvre, but will mostly remain unread and even unrecognized as such in a digitally transformed world. (And I would rather they be cast into such an all consuming digital blackhole than be burnt or thrown out as a part of my estate and my wake.)

Facing in a personal way of my own life-time bibliography and biography the global tragedy of the books, I will in my passing remain content and satisfied that I’ve been a lover of books that will sooner or later become burnt or recycled, knowing full well that I was part of a book-based world never to happen again.