Writing around the world mccool e-books

Excerpt from Ship's Librarian, Mr.

Writing around the world mccool e-books

It is a deeply human enterprise. The e-book is in the way. I mean that our love of books has led us to create digital objects that severely limit what we can do with them.

In making electronic books look and act like books—in being guided by a notion of simulation rather than reinvention—we have constrained ourselves from taking advantage of the potential of electronic reading.

Long live the book. Most debates about the future of reading have turned around the question of whether or not to go electronic. Books good, Internet bad. Internet free, books bulky. But that debate is over. We have gone electronic, whether we like it or not.

What we have not done is take advantage of this shift. Books are like containers, full of ideas and memorabilia. E-books are like little gated communities. Consider all the ways that e-books fall short of printed books.

They are harder to navigate quickly, and they come with distracting bells and whistles when we want to pay attention. They are visually and tactilely impoverished compared to the history of illustrated and ornate books.

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They are harder to share than printed books and harder to hold onto—preserving e-books for future generations, well good luck with that. Skimming, holding, sharing, annotating, and focusing—these are just some of the many ways that e-books diminish our interactions with books.

And yet they remain the default way we have thought about reading in an electronic environment. We have fallen for formats that look like books without asking what we can actually do with them. Imagine if we insisted that computers had to keep looking like calculators. Escaping this rut will require not only a better understanding of history—all the ways reading has functioned in the past that have yet to be adequately re-created in an electronic world—but also a richer imagination of what lies beyond the book, the new textual structures or infrastructures that will facilitate our electronic reading other than the bound, contained, and pictorial objects that we have so far made available.

Instead of preserving the sanctity of the book, whether in electronic or printed form, we need to think beyond the page and into that all too often derided thing called the data set: This is the future of electronic reading. To support such a shift, we need to do a better job of bringing into relief the nonbookish things we can do with words and how this will add value to our lives as readers.

We need a clearer sense of what reading computationally means beyond the host of names used to describe it today text mining, distant reading, social network analysis.

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It was clear from her writing that some sort of severe cognitive decline had set in before the end of her life. It can also be used to understand ourselves. It is part of what Rufus Pollock calls the revolution in small data, where we use these kinds of tools to better understand ourselves.

We are all writers today. Whether it is in the form of email, Facebook, Twitter, texting, or more formal writing like word documents, we generate a great deal of writing over the course of our lives.

writing around the world mccool e-books

It is easy to imagine a potential screening device that tracks the same measures Lancashire used to examine Christie to study our own language habits in order to anticipate warning signs of mental decline.

By the time most cognitive diseases are diagnosed, they are often well advanced and thus more difficult to treat. An app that monitors our written speech could give us indications of our mental health.

writing around the world mccool e-books

It feels creepy, but also potentially useful at the same time. Indeed, such apps already exist. There is a depression tracker called Ginger. It also tracks the range of your mobility using GPS. The onset of depression is often marked by increasing social isolation, so communicating and moving around less are very strong indicators that something might be wrong.

If you opt in, these devices can communicate with your doctor, providing more diagnostic material and perhaps even prompting you to come in for an appointment.

It, too, feels creepy and potentially useful. Other tools are focusing on populations rather than individuals. Google Flu Trendswhich monitors social media for disease-related words, has proven remarkably successful in monitoring the spread of outbreaks, something that the CDC has traditionally done using biological sampling, creating a significant time lag between diffusion and diagnosis.

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