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Nov 28, 2013

Technology Changes Everything, Including How You Read

Posted by in categories: information science, media & arts

Each new technology revolutionizes how we approach life and what we do in it. Take my new Kindle Fire HD for example. Before, I simply picked up a book – whether it be hardback or paperback – and start reading. Usually if there was a busy day ahead of me, each time I picked up a book I’d simply read a chapter, bookmark it – a lot of the cases being “dog ears,” unfortunately – and place it to the side, ready for another chapter to be read for another time.

This was a relatively comfortable motion of life that I adhered to. I read a lot. Though of course there were the slight annoyances that could be made known, but were fortunately tolerable. For example, if you don’t have a real bookmark, you then have to ruin the pages by flapping down a top corner of the page you were last reading from. That was a slight nuisance. Another example being, given I had a busy day and thus in need of scheduling, the fact that I had no clue as to how long it would take me to read the chapter, then placed me in a unfortunate position of not knowing how my day will be handled. At times, though rare, I couldn’t even finish a chapter because it was taking too long and I had to get things done.

So back to my Kindle Fire, these slight annoyances as an avid reader have been completely expropriated! Most MOBI-formatted books are well organized and easily readable. So when I’m reading, the Kindle Fire allows me to simply tap the top right corner and instantly bookmarks the page I’m reading. No “dog ears,” no unnecessary pieces of paper needing to be bought to be used as one. If I’m curious as to how long the chapter I’m reading will take, I simply tap the bottom left corner and it not only gives me the # of minutes left in reading the chapter, but the number of hours it’ll take for me to read the entire book. It detects my reading pattern via its sensors and calculates an estimation of how long each page is read, each chapter, the entire book. I also quite enjoy the fact that it provides a % of how much the book I’ve read so far.

This changes a lot for me as a reader. And really, while I’ve labeled them as slight annoyances, thinking back, I’m not sure how I could’ve tolerated such things. Then again, my love for reading always dominated my desire for perfection. But before the Kindle, there were still such a thing as digital books, which were formatted as PDFs (Portable Document Format). I’ve got a LOT of PDFs on my laptop! But then PDFs are incapable of creating bookmarks, and they weren’t exactly mobile-oriented like a normal hardback/paperback book was. That was an even greater nuisance to reading than normal books provided.

Kindle, however, destroyed those annoyances. Completely. It’s really easy to carry around. It doesn’t take up much space at all. It carries thousands of books, and much more when accessing its cloud server. Its battery life is top notch. It detects and learns your reading pattern. It connects to your online accounts. It integrates itself into your life in mere minutes!

When it comes to a reader, it changes everything. And that is revolutionary!

The article above was originally published as a blog post on The Proactionary Transhumanist.

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Comments — comments are now closed.

  • Franco Cortese on November 28, 2013 11:50 pm

    Oh would you just pick one, Picard?!

  • B.J. Murphy on November 29, 2013 12:14 am

    I wonder how many GBs those tablets run in the Star Trek universe. You’d think it wouldn’t be GBs, or even TBs, but much, much larger, but then there’d be no need of having to operate several different tablets for different operations at one time.

    Oh, Picard, how you delude us with such mysterious — albeit shrewd — swagger.

  • Kevin J. Anderson on November 29, 2013 1:51 pm

    And let’s not forget the books we used to have around *for information only*. To my annoyance, I keep receiving bulky phone books dropped on my driveway…who looks anything up in a phone BOOK anymore? Or my printed 27-volume World Book Encyclopedia? I can Google search any topic I like and get a plethora of articles, rather than flipping through pages in a volume to get one specific article.

    Note, though, that there are plenty of other eReaders out there in addition to Kindles…Kobos, Nooks, Sony eReaders, tablets, smartphones with eReader apps.

  • Walter Hehl on November 30, 2013 5:59 am

    How we read is really changing: Gadgetwise, it is visible and well understood. And even hard (wooden) paper fans agree to the advantages.
    I think the soft difference how we read is also important: A book is per definition a long rolled-out piece of work and info (if not just a collection). I assume many people prefer shorter pieces to digest — with higher information density and connectivity. Internet, hyperlinks and the Zeitgeist support this.
    I heard this is also thought to be a major gender difference (more female readers for long novels :-) )

  • B.J. Murphy on November 30, 2013 8:37 am

    I like long novels, too. So long it has a good story behind it, well thought-out characters, and a plot that keeps you thinking and questioning throughout the entire time period reading it. :)

  • Marcus Barber on December 1, 2013 2:48 am

    Of course to a larger extent it depends on the type of books you read and the purpose for doing so.

    Novels are, by and large, passive and one way — the reader follows along with the quality of their readership based on the quality of the authorship.

    But what about books for learning, or those items more geared around prompting some alternative thinking. I often make many notes in my books, writing down thought bubbles as they pop up, noting to go and check out some additional information. My notation style allows me to quickly re-read and entire book in mere minutes, picking up those key factors I’d discovered as being important.

    Maybe these electronic versions can do that, maybe not and as a futurist, I’m technology agnostic. I can hand a book over to a colleague or friend. I’m less likely to do that to a Kindle or their alternatives. And saying to some one ‘here, read this’ seems significantly different from saying ‘hey you should go online and buy this book’.

    And finally one thing I really like about books — their batteries never seem to run out…

    Marcus Barber :-)

  • B.J. Murphy on December 1, 2013 12:35 pm

    Hey Marcus,

    I definitely hear what you’re saying. And thankfully Kindle devices, among other devices as well, do allow you to take notes on your pages.

    Using my Kindle Fire HD as an example, I’m able to highlight a section of whatever page, then include a note as to the highlighted section’s importance. Not only that, if I find a mistake in doing so, I can easily edit said note, or even de-highlight any section I no longer find useful, diminishing any damage done to the book — which isn’t the case for normal books, seeing as how once highlighted or written on, no changing that.

    So, again, I find that digital tablets, like the Kindle, are far superior than hardback and paperback books. As a reader, writer, researcher, etc., this digital transition in books is a very useful tool and definitely helps me more than any other kind of book could thus far.

  • Marcus Barber on December 2, 2013 2:39 am

    Delighted that they’re working for you :-) Arguably the two biggest selling factors for me are likely to be storage minimisation and less weight when I’m travelling.
    Marcus :-)