Reading in a Whole New Way

Kevin Kelly, an author I’ve long enjoyed reading (see Out of Control, a book that had a profound impact on my thinking about technology back in the mid-90’s) has written an interesting piece on the future of reading for Smithsonian’s 40th anniversary issue titled Reading in a Whole New Way. He makes a lot of very interesting and, I think, prescient points. He talks about the ubiquity of screens and that they will soon be watching us in turn. He says that reading will become a much more physical activity much like Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report. These days, I read more and more on my iPhone using the Amazon Kindle app, iBooks, GoodReader, Stanza, and the Borders eBooks App. I have been having fun locating free books in pdf or epub format and getting them onto my iPhone to read. I am, for all intents and purposes, an advocate for eReaders. That said, I do not believe that the physical book is going to go away anytime soon. There is something about the feel and smell of a real book, the permanence of the physical object, and the simple fact that there are just some places you can’t or at least don’t want to bring a book (the beach comes to mind). As this next generation grows up into the digital world we inhabit and as their kids grows up, this will certainly shift more and more to screens from paper but I don’t think we’ll see the paper book go away. Not within my lifetime anyway. Perhaps when the technology is advanced enough, we’ll see objects that look and feel just like real books (pages and all) but that display digital content beautifully. Whatever your thoughts, Kelly’s article is a great read (especially online, using the new “Reader” capability of the latest Safari.) (Found via The Technium)


I woke up early this morning and sat down to write. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time but never set aside the time or space to do it. Instead, my early mornings and late evenings have been dealing with tending farm, working on my frontier land and cabin, building new and updated buildings in my kingdom, and fighting dragons. Yesterday, I stopped and realized that what little free time I have when I am not at work or doing things with my son were being eaten up by what I always called “Stupid Facebook Games.” So, I quit. Just like that. I removed all of the apps, their permissions, unsubscribed from their mailing lists, and blocked them from showing up on my wall. It was liberating.

So, I woke up early as I always do and sat down to write. Alas, I only wrote a single paragraph today and not a very good one, but it was a start and I’m glad I did it and look forward to continuing tomorrow. If you want to write, write every day, they say. And so I will. Before this, I only ever wrote daily during NaNoWriMo and the three years I have done that have always been wonderful. However, NaNoWriMo is a different sort of writing. There, you write with reckless abandon. You plough forward, never looking back, never editing, never questioning. Your goal is word count, not art. And it is liberating but it also has given me an incorrect view of what writing is. As I began working on this short story idea I have wanted to play with for some time, I realized that I can’t write like that anymore. I need to structure. I need to plan. I need to balance expository dialogue with action and description. I need to care whether my characters sound and feel real. I need the world I am crafting to be fully realized (at least enough for a short story). I could probably write the story in one marathon session and then go back and edit it but that somehow feels like the wrong approach. So, I am stepping back and working out the outline. I want to know where my story is going before I try to go too far into it.

I want to read more, especially paying attention to the craft as much as the story itself. I want to look for a writing class somewhere locally. I want to learn from other writers what works and doesn’t work for how they work and begin to find a process that works for me. So, that is the journey I am undertaking now. And it feels wonderful and exciting.