Archive for November, 2010

Jester reading a book

Image via Wikipedia

I was reading articles on the BBC website the other day and came across this interesting article: BBC- Does reading a book make us happier?

With all the debate over the future of libraries, you have to question, despite reports saying people use libraries less and less for books, how many people really use them, and how many people enjoy reading a book in a library, the one place where we can safely read a good book for free?

Does reading a book really make us happier? It is no longer a hobby only pursued by the elite rich higher-classes of the past, and now everyone has access to books whether they like it or not. With so many other activities and technologies around us, like TV, the Internet and so on, it is often difficult in our day and age to find time to sit down and read, with most people opting for the easier option of watching TV or surfing the Internet. Printed books seem so detached from the technology that surrounds us, which is why ebooks have started edging their way into this new digital world, in the hope that we will enjoy and benefit from having everything we need in one place.

When i was younger, i was considered to be a right little  “bookworm” and i read pretty much all the time, because it was a necessity to me, like oxygen or food. I don’t want to sound bigheaded but i’m pretty sure i was well ahead of my peers in the reading stages because i had read my way through all the special reading books my school provided, and i was onto the more grown-up books long before anyone else! The thing is that reading came easily and naturally to me, to the point where i was actually writing my own little stories when i wasnt reading. Today, i still find myself all excited when i get a new book and i hurriedly get all my chores and tasks done so i can sit down in a comfy seat (or bed!) and read until i finish the book!

I’m sure everyone has a little routine when it comes to reading a book, and that everyone has some kind of pride and satisfaction when they finish reading a book.

I can say that reading makes me happy, because i can get lost in my own little world and no-one can disturb it. As i read, i see the story unfolding in my mind and it conjures up pictures which no-one else can see, and my brain makes all these links between what i’m reading and my existing knowledge (whether its of events i’ve witnessed similar to ones in the book, or facts that i knew and have just learned a little more about). That makes me happy, being able to connect things, and imagine things, and explore things which i never even imagined before.

Books really make the world go round, but it feels as if the printed book is slowly being phased out.

One thing that makes me sad is that libraries are starting to limit their book supplies because the demand for printed books is less than it used to be, what with ebooks starting to appear on their computer systems.

My university library is trying to get rid of all books which haven’t been checked out in over a year, but is this really a good method of sorting though library books? When i was researching my undergraduate dissertation, i went through stacks and stacks of books, some of which were dusty and hadnt been touched in years! And its these old books which often contained the vital information that i needed to back up my arguments. If all the books which hadnt been checked out in years were thrown out, there’s very little chance that i would have been able to put enough research into my dissertation.

I would be very sad if libraries stopped providing printed books and if shops stop selling real physical printed books. I would probably feel very depressed if i couldnt experience the one truly unique process of reading a book. It would be the end of life as we know it.

How sad would you be if printed books disappeared? Would you miss reading books in libraries? And, most importantly, does reading a book make you happy? I’ll let you decide.

Behold the iPad in All Its Glory

Image via Wikipedia

I was in a restaurant a few nights ago (celebrating my graduation from university, might i add!) with my parents, and my mum spotted a woman on a table behind us who had brought her Ipad with her to dinner.

Now we thought this to be quite an interesting, but odd sight, particularly as it was only the second time i had been in a room with someone who actually owns one of these devices. For some reason she kept wandering round the restaurant with her Ipad, maybe she was showing it off, i don’t know! We thought it was a bit strange to bring such a huge device into a restaurant,  as it barely fitted into her handbag!

My mum pointed out that anyone could see what she was doing on it, what with her waving it around for the whole restaurant to see and the fact the screen was quite bright and therefore stood out in the dimly-lit restaurant.

I wonder how practical these Ipads really are, as they are quite large and cumbersome…. its not like an Iphone which is smaller and more practical.

To be fair, anyone who can afford to buy an Ipad while they are still uncommon in everyday life is bound to show it off, even at the risk of showing everyone what they are doing on this stupidly expensive and large device. And showing off is exactly what this woman was doing, parading it around the restaurant. She was with a fairly big  group of people, so why she had brought it with her i don’t know. I would have thought a restaurant was hardly the sort of place where you need to check on stuff like emails and so on, its more a place where you want to relax and enjoy your dinner without worrying about stuff.

No-one else seemed to need gadgets at the dinner table (there was the odd person on their mobile but that’s fairly common these days), and it seemed like the woman was distracted and a bit distant from her group because of this device which made her stand out. This doesnt seem like a good thing, and i for one would be annoyed if someone i was dining with decided to bring their Ipad and fiddle with it all through the meal, when i want to talk to them with their full attention focused on our conversation.

I really hope that Ipads don’t start to invade our lives too much, as they are only isolating people from real life, and at the moment they are so expensive that very few can afford one comfortably, and once people have got used to them, i’m sure the novelty will wear off.

I am quite divided because Ipads do seem more practical and less cumbersome than a laptop, but less practical than a mobile phone. I think its ok if you want to use it purely for working or whatever while travelling, but they shouldnt really be used in restaurants and other places where you don’t really need them.

What does everyone else think of this?

iPad Display Item

Image via Wikipedia

Is going digital all its cracked up to be?

Like everything else, digital does has its downsides, and although the following are more speculation than anything else, they are things to think about if we carry on down this path.

How empty is our world going to be in the future, if we no longer have books cluttering up our bookshelves?? If books are replaced by Ebooks, the world will seem very strange.

Maybe one day every human will have one machine that does and has everything:

  • Able to read any book in existence as an Ebook, whether its the Bible or the latest bestseller.
  • Able to watch videos of anything in any place
  • Able to listen to music from anywhere in the world
  • Able to access TV channels and programmes from anywhere in the world
  • Aable to order stuff from anywhere
  • Able to access news and information from anywhere about anything

and the list goes on!

Interestingly, the mobile phone started as a huge brick-like contraption (just like the first computer was huge too), and has gradually shrunk over the years as technology has improved. However, now touchscreens are the big thing and seem to be getting bigger and bigger in size! The Iphone is pretty big as it is, but then we have been introduced to the Ipad and the other copycat devices, all with large touchscreens. Maybe one day there will be a touchscreen which is the size of a wall!

The possibilities seem to be endless.

But one wonders if we are spending too much time and effort on these technologies.

For one thing, we are losing out in other areas, for example music records, LPs, and CDs are being phased out….we are losing the actual physical object which we can hold and have signed by the artist. The same thing is happening with books, with each Ebook that is released, we are losing the physical object.

Another worry is that we are becoming increasingly dependant on devices which need a whole lot of energy, and that energy isnt all coming from green sources. I can’t imagine how much fuel is needed to make the electricity to charge these devices. Poor Mother Nature must hate us for our greedy sucking-the-Earth-dry approach to living. What happens when the fuel sources run out? What happens when there’s long term powercuts and we will no longer be able to access all this information on our phones and various other devices?

Something else to consider is that with all this technology, we are slowly losing our ability to think creatively, and losing our imagination. I think that maybe digital technology could destroy the creative mind and not allow the brain to construct mental images as you read a book.

Is our evolution as a species being prevented by this abundance of technology which we rely on? We humans haven’t changed or evolved in thousands of years!

There is also the worry that our ability to interaction with other people in real time is being affected because we can find out so much about people from their online profile, such as Facebook, and the use of email and IM means we don’t see each other’s reactions. The way we interact with our children is different now, with mobiles and computers taking us away from each other, and computer games and so on making us less inclined to sit and chat properly with each other.

It could be that the introduction of special enhanced Ebooks for children – with features such as being able to record the parent/grandparent/carer’s voice reading the story and pictures and games – could destroy the vital bonding between the parent and child,  especially if the parents just leaves the child with the ebook to read by themself, while the parent goes off to bed or work (obviously the child won’t be fully abandoned, i just mean, that the interaction will be much less).

I’m not saying that these things are definite, but it is important to consider the implications and potential consequences of our actions now.

It’s something to think about, certainly, and i wonder what others think of these, and if you have any issues to add to the list.