Nooks and Books

There is a commercial on TV right now for the Nook. It really gets under my skin. I guess I’m old fashioned.

What aggravates me is that I think all of the arguments for the book over the nook are perfectly legitimate. Even, and I could almost say especially, the argument that the book is better because you can actually turn the corner down.

On the commercial that’s the point where the girl thinks that she is starting to sound ridiculous and asks to see the Nook.

Maybe I sound hypocritical as I write this on a blog, but the internet is stretching it for me. I’ve got to keep up I suppose, but I do not see how reading something virtually is going to help me keep up. Whether I read it on paper or on a tiny little screen, I’m still getting the same information.

The fact is that I like seeing my books on a shelf. I like knowing where everything is. I like seeing things spacially and I guess I just haven’t figured how to transfer that over to the virtual space. I don’t think I ever will.

My opposition to this new technology reminded me of a discussion in my class on the political economy. My professor was talking about the iPod- how it changes the way society experiences music. With iPods, or any generic MP3 player, people plug in their headphones and listen on their own. Very isolated. It used to be that people gathered around the radio to listen to the music. And before that they gathered at opera halls, or community halls, or in churches. Music was a luxury. And before that people listended to music around a campfire. Together. Society certainly has changed.

It is a very strong image, however: sitting around a fire in the middle of a village, listening to tales of wit and glory. Music and stories really aren’t so different, after all.

I wonder what the minstrels said when people developed written language. Did they realize they would soon be needing to find a new profession. Did they argue that books would be the end of society? Or was it further down the road when the printing press made the distribution of books cheap and efficient? That each person reading on their own would destroy the sense of community they worked so hard to maintain.

How long has the ‘end of society as we know it’ argument been going on?

Are we just one step further along the sliding scale of individual vs. community or will our sense of community transform right along with the modern technology?

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