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  • A Kindle Christmas?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    kindle.jpg I wonder how many of our American customers will get a Kindle from Father Christmas tomorrow!? I'm sure they have been selling like hot mince pies, but I have been pondering -- musing, if you will! -- that if I was based in the States would I have put a Kindle on my list for Santa? And, you know, I don't think I would have done. Why don't I want a Kindle, then? Well, for starters, as a lot of commenters have mentioned, I don't like the use of proprietary software. You can't read, say, a Sony PRS book on a Kindle and vice versa. Indeed, with the Kindle you are completely tied into Amazon to buy all your e-books and e-zines. I really don't like the way that this limits your choice as a customer. This is the iTunes/iPod model and I don't think it is going to work for the e-book. Actually, I think the e-book may well simply fast forward certain technologies (e-ink display, backlit screens fully readable in any light conditions, mobile connectivity) that will then be re-imported back into laptop computers. I'd much prefer a lap/palmtop that was easy to read, and had e-book functionality coupled with my computing needs, than add another electronic device to my growing pile. And, regardless of any of this, I've not even mentioned just how great the comparatively cheap and robust portable technology of an ordinary book really is. The codex book is perfect at being a book! The Kindle, to me, is neither a very good book nor a very good computer. Father Christmas can keep his Kindle. And, hopefully, if he thinks I've been a good boy, he will bring me lots and lots of real
  • On the 27th December 1796 the Indian poet Mirza Ghalib was born. On the same day a hundred years later Carl Zuckmayer the German author and dramatist came into this world, as did the American writer Louis Bromfield. On the 27th December 1910 Charles Olson, the American poet, was born. I "know" all of these facts about this day in history because of the wonder that is wikipedia. Trivia-maniac that I am, I love wikipedia. I look at the site most days and I'd be lost without it. The same goes for Google, of course. Everyday, and many times during the day, I google for something. But is there a danger on this reliance of mine? Certainly Siva Vaidhyanathan thinks so. His The Googlization of Everything website is a work in progress subtitled How One Company Is Disrupting Culture, Commerce, and Community ... And Why We Should Worry. It's a rather apocalyptic note, isn't it? But Siva is certainly onto something ... His blog is "the result of a collaboration between [Siva] and the Institute for the Future of the Book" and "is dedicated to exploring the process of writing a critical interpretation of the actions and intentions behind the cultural behemoth that is Google, Inc." It is an important website, and Siva's ideas need to be engaged with and debated. For sure, the idea
  • Candy-coated atheism

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

  • Will Beedle out?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    deathlyhallows.jpgdeathlyhallowsadult.jpg News arrived last week (via the BBC) that J.K. Rowling has penned a set of further Potter-world fairy-stories. However, The Tales of Beedle the Bard are not to be made available to Potter fans. Rowling has hand-written and personally illustrated just seven books, one will be auctioned for charity (proceeds going to The Children's Voice), the others will be given as gifts. The question must surely be, however, how long will it be before she makes these stories available to her fans? Surely, she has to publish them in an accessible format? She doesn't need the cash, so why doesn't she just put the stories up at her official website? The books would remain the unique gifts she wants them to be, but the stories would be in the public domain where her fans want them.
  • Is Blogging Good for the Soul?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    acquinas.jpg Some good fun over at the Talking Philosophy blog, where they ask: is blogging good for the soul?
    1. Blogging gives everyone a chance to write and publish, without having to pass muster with editors and publishers. Self-expression is good for the soul. 2. Blogging brings together people from all over the globe for debate and conversation. Global communication is good for the soul. 3. Blogging stimulates people to spend more time thinking, arguing, learning—all of which is good for the soul.
    However, it isn't all good news! Blogging pilgrims need to be cautious:
    Blogging distracts the soul from its higher calling—it destroys the calm that is needed for true contemplation. It is only seemingly sociable, but not actually. It draws human beings away from real friends and family toward connection with virtual people. It fosters clever, barbed speech instead of thoughtfulness or tact.
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