I’m over on Lee Mather‘s journal today, being interviewed regarding Brutal Light and other writerly topics. I’m covering some ground here not covered anywhere else, so be sure to check it out!
Over this past year, I’ve been working at the whole social media thing. You know, the whole interconnected mess of blogs, journals, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and the rest, through which I howl into the wires? I’ve had the pieces lying around for quite a while, but it hasn’t been until this year that I had to put them all together. And that was… and is… a lot of work. Even though things are far more advanced than they were when I first created an Internet journal.
Back in 1998, it was a lot simpler. I coded my first website by hand, and started up my journal with it. Whenever I wanted to do an update, I’d create a new page, write the update, and then would update the archive page, and also previous page to include a ‘next’ link. Then I’d FTP those three pages to my web space, and it was done. Easy peasy!
How would my readers, of whom I eventually had two digits worth, find out I’d written something new? Get this–they’d check my site. No RSS feeds or Networked Blogs then. They’d have long lists of journals in their browser favorites, and they’d visit each site one by one, just to see the updates. Every day. We had a lot more time back then. Also, there were something like twelve journals on the whole Internet.
I gave it up after maybe a year and a half. It took too much time. I was running out of things to say.
Then a friend introduced me to Blogger. It was cutting edge in 2001. You’d just type your words into the square, click a button, and Blogger would update your site for you. It was awesome!
I think I lasted two years with that. Once again, I’d run out of things to say.
Then came LiveJournal, which I joined in 2004. This time, instead of a web interface that updated my site, they kept all the updates on theirs. Even better, I could read the journals of many different people all in one place. I didn’t have to trawl through my favorites list hoping to see updates from people. Those who updated, I’d see right away.
I think it was this that kept me from getting tired of LiveJournal as well. Even when I went through periods when I felt like I had nothing to say, I always had plenty to read. I could go to one place, read it, and get on with my day.
Ever since then, I haven’t dropped any of my social networks. I just seem to collect them, like baseball cards or irritating rashes. Orkut fizzled, but Facebook caught and held me, and Twitter affixed itself to my succulent flesh soon after. I added Dreamwidth mostly as a backup for LiveJournal, on account of all The Drama that was going on about the Russians taking over. I got onto Tumblr because a few friends got on and because it had lots of neat stuff being easily shared. I added Google+ because… because it was there, I think. I don’t know, it was all a blur–see, there were these open bottles, and a shot glass that said ‘drink me,’ and next thing I know there was Lawrence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves, only they were wearing leather bustiers and showing me pictures of funny cats and then I woke up and was on Google+.
(That sort of thing happens far more often than you’d think.)
These days, there are all manner of people who will tell you how to use social media. But, I ask you… where are the people who will tell you how social media is using you? Do you know what will happen if you unfriend someone and that someone turns out to be Skynet? DO YOU???
(Sigh.) Never mind. I’m sure it’s just a little paranoia. I have to go ask the computer to schedule my updates and tweets now, so that they appear when the most people will see them. Very kindly, it tells me the best times.
Then I have to check Twitter. Someone called ‘Colossus’ started following me, and I don’t think it’s the X-Men character…
When I tried reading a book on my smartphone for the first time, I knew I would face some tough hurdles in getting to like this new (to me, at least) way of reading. As a longtime reader, I had come to enjoy the feel of books, and the feel of turning pages, and could not see how the experience of reading a story on a screen could be as immersive as the ‘real thing.’ I’d tried reading books on computers before, but sitting in a chair and reading words on a monitor was not an appealing experience. I was ready to resist this new, paper-free reading experience… and it took all of five minutes for it to win me over.
Of course, I had to make a few tweaks–I discovered that white letters on a black background was much easier on my eyes than the other way around–but once done, I discovered I liked reading this way a lot. I could read what I wanted, where I wanted, without having to carry a large brick of paper around. They are, for the most part, less expensive than paper books (though some big publishers are trying to keep their ‘traditional’ model alive by switching that around) I could save shelf space, and never have to work out what parts of my collection I’d have to pack into boxes and squirrel away to make room for new stuff–which may not sound exciting to you, but having had to box up and move my collection multiple times through the years, it sounds great to me.
Of course, I’m hardly alone in discovering that e-books can be just as good an experience as the paper kind. Kindle and Nook readers have brought e-books to millions, and the apps (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and more) on wide varieties of smartphones. E-book sales are outstripping paper book sales on Amazon.com. It seems the long-anticipated death of the book as a physical object is finally at hand.
Or is it?
There are plenty of people still out there who love books as they are. Friends and family members who either have not tried e-books, for many of the same reasons I once hesitated, and those who have and found them wanting. And there are those, such as myself, for whom enjoyment of e-books does not mean abandonment of paper books, who will continue purchasing both kinds into the foreseeable future.
The sad, sad example of the death of the Borders bookstore chain is often cited as evidence that e-books have
Edit 1/3/2017: Not sure what happened to the text after this point. But whatever I wrote has vanished, and I don’t have it in me to figure out what I was thinking then. I’m sure it consisted of words.