Monday, August 9, 2010

Curling up with technology

Monday, 9 August 2010 -  What is your source for news?  Do you open the newspaper each day over a coffee, or during lunch? Do you listen to the morning broadcasts on radio or television while you get ready for your day, or wait until you get home for the early edition and the evening news?  Do you flip on the news before going to bed?  Maybe you listen to the all news radio on the way in to the office and on the commute home. Or... are you like so many of us, and have really just started reading the news as it is presented to you, embedded in to your search tool, or on the front screen of Sharepoint?

I do seek out a newspaper, but all I really read are the comics and then proceed to hunt out the crossword puzzle. My news is obtained online, and in the last few years, on my iPhone... there is an app for that. News has gone digital, immediate, and collaborative.  Like never before, you can read or watch the news online, then comment along side millions of others, getting to be a part of the news without getting caught in the flashbulbs with blood on your shirt and a ball peen hammer in hand.  There is often more value, or at least more entertainment in the comments than in the news article. Newspapers all over America are folding (not in the middle to fit in a newsbox), but disappearing from the news box all together.  Some have decided that they will only be delivered to your inbox, and in an effort to add value (and justify a subscription fee), are tailoring the news you receive to what you have specified as important. Others provide different content to their electronic posts than they do to the paper version.

I once lived in a small town on an Island that proudly had a local paper.  It printed three issues a week whether there was any news to print or not.  If something happend on a Saturday, it was sure to show up in the following Wednesday's edition. There was nothing immediate about news here.  By the time the photos got to the front page, they were beginning to take on a sepia tone. Even in major centres, the newspapers just can't get the news out to print as fast as they can now. I wonder if children today will have the same appreciation for the delayed news that is the newspaper?

And what of books?  Remember when you waited each week for the Bookmobile to come around to your street so you could swap out the books you borrowed last week and get a whole new pile of words to enjoy? And then when you were old enough, you went to the library... the holy grail of books... where there were stacks upon stacks of fiction, non-fiction, biographies, encyclopedias, magazines and even newspapers.  You would borrow books, and hopefully bring them back in time to not incur late fees.  This was often the first lesson in short term payday loans one often got.  Those who took this lesson to heart probably never needed the Caterpillar.

Today, books are also going the way of the newspaper.  Sure they still print them, and people still buy and read them.  They pass them along when they are done - often several times over.  You can buy your books online. There you are, sitting at home watching yesterdays Oprah on Tivo, when the latest book club selection is discussed.  It is no longer necessary to write the title down and hope you'll have that piece of paper with you when you pass by a Chapters or Barnes & Noble.  Log in to Amazon, purchase it, and wait for your book to come to you.  Still not fast enough?  No problem.  Even the book stores have figured out that readers are just as likely to read electronic books. Now if the Publishers would all get on board.  What difference is it to them if I pay to download a book, read it, and pass the file along? If I pay for the paper version, I'm doing the same thing.  I once registered a book with BookCrossing and that one book passed through 7 readers that I know of, and in 4 different countries. I'm guessing the electronic file is cheaper to publish as well.

Me, I have a Kindle.  I have taken a great shine to the immediacy with which I can not only search for a book, but purchase it (1-click shopping), and have it delivered to my Kindle in about 48.5 seconds.  I am reading the book before the end of the commercial break.  If I don't have my Booklike Thingy with me, I have my iPhone which will let me pick up on the same page I left off on the Kindle or for that matter on my computer.  The book I'm reading follows me.  I may be a book lover, but I'm a newly converted e-book lover.  Today, on Book Lover's Day, I think I'll download a new book.
There.  Downloaded.  Now off to curl up with a good Booklike Thingy.

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