Saturday, January 4, 2014

Author Mohsin Hamid muses on technology, solitude and e-books

A recent piece in The New York Times poses the question "How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?"

In it, authors Mohsin Hamid and Anna Holmes give their respective takes on this topic.

You should take the time to read the whole article, but I wanted to share a short excerpt of what Hamid says, because it's especially thought-provoking:
"I crave technology, connectivity. But I crave solitude too. As we enter the cyborg era, as we begin the physical shift to human-machine hybrid, there will be those who embrace this epochal change, happily swapping cranial space for built-in processors. There will be others who reject the new ways entirely, perhaps even waging holy war against them, with little chance — in the face of drones that operate autonomously while unconcerned shareholding populations post selfies and status updates — of success. And there will be people like me, with our powered exoskeletons left often in the closet, able to leap over buildings when the mood strikes us, but also prone to wandering naked and feeling the sand of a beach between our puny toes.

"In a world of intrusive technology, we must engage in a kind of struggle if we wish to sustain moments of solitude. E-reading opens the door to distraction. It invites connectivity and clicking and purchasing. The closed network of a printed book, on the other hand, seems to offer greater serenity."

When I have extolled the virtues of printed books in the past, Hamid's reasoning wasn't something that immediately sprang to mind. But it's a terrific and logical point. And one to add to the arsenal as we defend the value and beauty of printed books in the years ahead.

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