Let’s not buy the coffin just yet…

The book is dead, or so I have heard. Write a blog entry describing your habits of reading words both on screen and in print. Do you feel that there is any need for people to go on cutting down trees in order to print information that could be made available online?


Firstly let me just preface with I am a big supporter of environmental conservation, I mean, I sleep in a “Sea-Sheppard’ t-shirt, I was the idiot who shut down an entire household at 7:55pm on the 29th March for Earth Hour and then peaked through the curtains to see who’s lights were out in the neighborhood, I carry green bags around with me everywhere and my showers are mercilessly short, however I cannot extend my fanaticism to include the end of book production to save the trees.

Being a student of humanities subjects, I am required to do many hours of reading a week, and this reading is made so much easier when the unit provides a handbook with all the readings it, now I’m no optometrist but it can’t be hard to recognize that reading a book is much healthier for the eyes than starting at a computer screen for hours on end, it is also so much easier to retain information as you can write in the margins and highlight the parts you deem to be important. Many University students will be familiar with the ‘highlighter osmosis’ theory, that by highlighting something that information immediately gets sucked up through the pen and into your brain. This osmosis is difficult to achieve on through a computer screen, and personally once I am on the internet the likely hood of me doing the reading is slim, therefore I say more readers less digitized reading.

I don’t deny that with the increased availability of multimedia on the internet and iPod with Video capacities, many young people since the end of Generation X, often dubbed the MTV generation, Generation Y and the new technology immersed Generation Z, young people will continue to instinctively turn to the internet or television for entertainment, however I fear that this is draining young people’s ability to imagine, and constructively use their minds, instead of being told what to think and feel through the use of multi-media. As Lisa Simpson so comically commented “We are the MTV generation, we feel neither highs nor lows.” Is this the continued way for the future? In 15 years the Youth Summit is going to be very bleak!  I was telling a friend the other day about a book I am currently reading. The book is about a teenage girl who falls in love with a Vampire, I proceeded to explain to my friend that vampires are apparently extremely good looking, she shocked me by asking how I knew this and did the book have pictures. Apparently the vivid images words can create in our minds are no longer enough for my generation, we need full multimedia proof.

As I’m writing this entry on my blog I don’t pretend that I am not invested in this multi-media culture, I believe that the availability of information online is impressive, and makes necessary information easily accessible, but there is something so lovely about being able to select a book off a bookshelf and sit down and immerse yourself in it for an afternoon, or as a ritual before you go to sleep. Technology cannot offer something that’s richly steeped in history such as an old classic that has been on your book self for years, and becomes a comforting item to come back to and re-read.

What I personally enjoy about reading books is the portability of the practice, with a good book in your bag you will never be caught out waiting for a delayed train or filling in time in a waiting room. All my life I have been surrounded by books, and I was taught very earlier on ‘if you can read it, you can spell it’, it seems a shame that many young children are not getting this incidental form of education. I know for a fact that the 8 year old I babysit can spell ‘Nintendo Ds’ however I would not be surprised if I presented her with a list of words I could spell in when I was 8  and she had trouble grasping the context of words unfamiliar to her multi-media savvy vocabulary, let alone trying to spell them.

I read that Jeff Jarvis believes that books are dead because ‘they are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected.’ This is untrue, I recently discovered that a book series I used to read, Sweet Valley High, has recently had a facelift and references which could date the story lines have been replaced by more ‘relatable’ references, for instance, outfits that were once outlined in detail (clearly describing 80’s fashion trends) have now been watered down so that readers today will not date the plot lines and pass the characters off as old fashioned. Whilst it is debatable whether absence of identifiable detail has made the stories better, it is an example of how books of the past have become ‘unfrozen’.

Ultimately I guess it depends on how much you enjoy reading a good book and to a certain extent how much emphasis was placed on reading when you were young, but I implore people to look beyond the shallow view that the continued production of books equates to the avoidable demise of the environment. I’m signing off the internet now to curl up and continue reading my vampire book!



~ by caitlin08 on April 19, 2008.

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