Still searching for paths through a digital world
I begin with an expression of deep affection and enjoyment of the all the wonderful computer technology that now fills so much of our lives. I follow that by saying that if it all went away, I’m not sure I would mind a bit. As I move forward in my life and continue to enjoy things I’ve always enjoyed, there are still dilemmas facing me in regard to how to participate in these things. Three activities stand out as the most difficult — readin’, writin’ and shootin’ (photos, that is).
Starting with reading, there were times when I told myself it would always be books first. I thought I would never be able to read on screens.
I tried to work it out and find settings that made it more like the reading I was used to but it just wouldn’t stick. But little did I realize that my brain was hard at work while my mind sat around unable to figure things out.
The first thing I remember noticing was wishing that I could perform a search while staring at the inadequate index of some book. All those pages to turn and still not finding what I was looking for — couldn’t I just type in a couple of words and press a button? All those pages and so much information, I knew what I needed was in there somewhere, but where?
Things changed even more when I got Julie’s old MacBook. Now I could sit in one of my comfy chairs and use the computer. What had I been thinking? It was obvious that my brain was way ahead of me as usual and had already gotten things figured out and made plans. There’s pdfs, there’s a kindle app, there’s websites. I could be practically anywhere — certainly pretty much anywhere I ever go — and have anything that was possible to access on my computer right there with me! Sure there are plenty of smaller devices out there, but this thing is great. It’s compact, it’s comfortable and I’ve held and read many larger and heavier books. Plus all that other computer stuff is also right at my fingertips.
Although still in limbo somewhat, I’m beginning to get my mind around it pretty well. I recently bought my first ebook versions of a couple of computer books (thanks for the great deals, O’Reilly
) and realize that is the way go from now on. These are a great example of the kind of books where it is helpful to be able to search. I don’t see any reason to ever buy a print copy of a computer book again. Oddly, now that I’ve made that leap, I spend more time reading novels, short stories and plays in print. It’s like the use of new technology for one thing has brought about the return of another — the joy of curling up with a good book.
For now I’m happy with this compromise and will continue this way until I find a really high quality musty old book scent to spray on my laptop. That’s out there somewhere, right?
Next Sunday: The pen versus the keyboard.