Ebooks, odd metaphors, and a free lecture series

Didn’t get enough of odd, ominous metaphors in my last ebooks post? Here’s one from Wired contributor Art Brodsky:

Imagine walking into a library or bookstore and needing three or four pairs of different glasses to read different books manufactured to specific viewing equipment. Or buying a book and then having to arbitrarily destroy it after say, two weeks. That’s just nuts. But it’s the current situation we’re in with ebooks.

The whole article is worth reading, particularly if, like me, you like to brood about the subtle, pernicious aspects of the digital revolution in reading hidden behind the shining possibilities.

And hey, if you like to brood in a group (as a brood?) I’ve planned a series of lectures on publishing and libraries in the digital age happening this October and November in Chicago. Details here.

Making things difficult

I used to be so impressed by the ability to tap a word while reading on my phone for a definition. It seemed both a brilliant and a natural design decision: collapse the act of referring to the dictionary and get the reader back into the text as quickly as possible. But just yesterday, reading on paper, I came across a word I didn’t know and I relished it. I didn’t get up and get the dictionary. I thought about what that word might mean, enjoyed the sentence changing as I swapped out different meanings, and then continued on, happy in my ignorance. I got more out of it than if I had known the word.

I know of computer programs that disable one’s internet connection for a certain period of time. I’ve read about someone who locks their router and cell phone in a safe during the weekends. I wonder — so many design decisions facilitating absorption and creation are about making the process faster, more efficient. Maybe the future will be about intelligently slowing things down, purposefully and subtly making things a little more difficult. Gently forcing people to play and reach.