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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Does it all Mean?



The first USB memory device I bought I think had a whopping 256 megabyte capacity. At the time it was expensive but a wonder in the computer world because now I didn’t have to copy information to a CD which was always a clumsy format. I just bought a new external hard drive the other day with a 1.5 terabyte capacity. How long before my amazement at this technological leap seems quaint? How long will it be before you can have one small device that contains every movie ever filmed, every song ever recorded, and every book ever published? The more important question is what will this mean for humanity?

With my new eBook reader I no longer have a need for a public library as this new technology serves me better than any public library I have ever visited. I have access to any book I care to read without leaving my desk. I can carry my new library anywhere. I read a lot but I must admit that I don’t plow through as many books as I used to years ago. I lived by a small library in Florida and I’d go there at least once a week and return with a stack of books that I would put on my kitchen table. I’ve never read as much as I did during these years of my life. I had nothing in the way of distractions at home except the occasional movie I’d rent from the local video outlet.

That was before the internet. Now I have quite a few more things vying for my attention. A long time ago I lived in Greece for three years during which time I only talked on the phone to my mother on a handful of occasions. I wrote letters but probably no more than one or two a week, if that many. Today I send at least a half a dozen emails every day, most of them longer (and better written) than my correspondence from yesteryear. I can watch TV series in Spanish, French, and English. I have every movie at my disposal. I still read a hell of a lot but a quiet night at home no longer means only a book.

The good news for gypsies like me is that moving no longer means leaving your books behind or going broke shipping the old technology of paper books. Books are an enormous burden when you move and represent one of the heaviest and bulkiest of household items. I have a houseful of books after eight years in Spain so if I decide to move to the other side of the planet again I won’t be quite as heartbroken to leave behind my library of physical books.

I have to say that my lust for buying paper books is waning very rapidly. In Valencia it takes a true bloodhound to sniff out the best places to buy used books. I still make the rounds of the second hand stores and pawn shops where I find used books but not as much as I did in my pre-eBook reader phase. I have to admit that I now prefer reading on my device; it’s just a lot easier to use than the technology it is quickly replacing.

And to all those screeching about how eBooks are destroying reading I say this. Get stuffed! What are important are the words on the page, not the technology used to deliver them. When the printing pressed rolled in, the ancient scribes howled about that technology as well. Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose.

So what does it all mean? It simply has to mean more than just convenience, that your next move will be easier because all of your media now fit in an area smaller than a pack of cigarettes. It is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility for our own enlightenment and edification by using this glorious new technology instead of just sitting back and watching old episodes of The Brady Bunch or whatever. I don’t think that’s what the minds responsible for this technological leap had in mind.

Too good not to share:

3 comments:

  1. For a very long time, the price of memory was something like the Gold Standard - it was $30 / £30 (don't you love the computer industry's unique and easy-to-use currency conversions) per megabyte. And then the only two chip factories on the planet burnt down. The price shot up. Suddenly every tech company on the planet built chip-making plants, creating massive oversupply and driving prices down to the acceptably insane levels we have today.

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  2. But what does it MEAN? Is this technology good or bad?

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  3. It means this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQHX-SjgQvQ

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