Thursday, October 17, 2013

Paper is Perishing

I've read a lot of books lately, now that I have the time. These have been real, paper books rather than Kindle ones. Since I've been reading so voraciously, I decided to go back to the library rather than spending a fortune on Amazon. Up to this point, I had completely converted to ebooks, loving the convenience of having a whole library on my iPad, not having to deal with the heft of 1000 pages of the latest Game of Thrones novel.  

But now that I've gone back to actual paper books, I've found that there is something special about the turning of a page and the feel of the smooth-rough paper on my finger-tips. The tactile as well as the mental stimulation makes it a different experience. It kind of reminds me of when we switched from dialing type of phones to push button. I miss the elegant movements of "dialing" a phone...letting your finger ride gently back with the dial as it returns to the home position. 

The book I just finished, A Lady Cyclist Guide to Kashgar (recommended), has a map in the front of the book. This is another annoyance when reading on the Kindle. I miss the convenience of been able to flip pages to see something earlier in the book. Or when I'm feeling particularly naughty, flipping to the end and reading the last page.

As I studied the map, it brought back memories of geography class, and creating maps of imaginary places, drawn to reinforce the lessons of what the various geographic symbols meants...little haystacks for mountains, brackets for bridges. Drawing my own little kingdom from my mind. I love maps, but they are also becoming quaint relics of the past. I remember when we'd return to the States each summer, I somehow assumed the job of navigator, reading the road maps as we drove from Pennsylvania to Georgia, or North Carolina. Folding the huge gas station maps so you could read the section where you were, but also unfolding to see the details of the whole route and routes not taken.

GPS systems are convenient, but so limiting. It drives me nuts to see everything through a small screen. There is no way to get a good view of the whole picture when it is shrunk down to a 4"x4" screen. How do we know what fascinating sites we may be missing? I've noticed that if I use the GPS for a route that I know well, it rarely takes me on my preferred path. Makes me wonder, when I use it for routes I'm unfamiliar with, what weird path it might be using. I love it when I decide to go my own way, and disregard the GPS recommendation. It's similar to that feeling when you were young and decided to ignore something your mother said. Even though you knew she was probably right, it made you feel good to make your own decision!  I think they should add a feature where the voice gets annoyed and makes you feel guilty; make it more life-like!

And don't get me started on the fact that there is a whole generation growing up, without the skill of navigating. How will they survive trying to find their way in a city without their iPhones? God, I sound old! Of course, I couldn't give up my Kindle or my GPS. I just hope that the paper industry doesn't completely disappear like Kodak or those phones I miss. 

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