Sunday, July 29, 2012

Living in a digital world

Much as I love writing ebooks, I have to admit – the digital world’s hard to navigate through at times. I get overwhelmed by the deluge of email, the dizzying number of sites to visit, and yes, even the avalanche of ebooks. My kindle now holds more than 320 ebooks, and the simple act of scrolling through the pages of titles takes more time than I care to spend.

Illegal downloads depress me, especially now that a company has decided to sell “used” digital products,including ebooks sometime in the future.  Really? Seriously? These people have no clue what it means to labor over something for months, sometimes years. Their brazenness astounds me.

The vehemence of Kindle boards against hard-working authors keeps me away entirely. It’s entirely too easy for anyone these days to spew hurtful words, and Facebook is becoming a real turn-off for not only this reason, but now that it’s limiting other people’s views of your posts and offering to sell you a deal for all the people who used to be able to see your posts to be able to see one – once only, unless you’re willing to shell out the $5.00 fee on an unlimited basis.

The tools that sites put up for readers to use have been made meaningless, sometimes by other authors attempting to demean works I suppose in order to make theirs more attractive (kind of a crazy notion, don’t you think? but it happens) and recently, an author said pirates have been leaving one-star, terrible reviews for her work. Why? If they want unscrupulous people to download from their sites, why make that book less than desirable? I can’t fathom much of the thinking behind these practices.

I suppose I’m old-fashioned sometimes. I don’t like being digitally connected 24/7, and I have a hard enough time without the Internet rewiring my brain, as this article claims. And this Newsweek article is even scarier, with evidence some people are actually suffering new forms of mental illness as a result.

If I ever leaned toward obsessive compulsiveness, it’s with checking email. And Facebook. And blogs. And about a dozen other sites. I get caught in a loop of circling from one to the other. It’s a frustrating cycle.

Not to mention that I could probably construct a web page faster than my computer can load them these days. Blogger has updated again, but this version doesn't "like" Firefox (the browser I use, of course) so error messages abound. Gotta love technology.

Don’t get me wrong, I love convenience of the Internet. Doing research is so easy using Google, but it’s not the same as, say, visiting a foreign place to absorb all its newness through your senses. But I honestly believe my brain’s already deficient, because I can’t use Twitter. Yes, I know how it works in theory, but when I try to actually use it, it’s instant overload and my brain shuts down.

It makes me sad to think, too, that future readers won’t know the joy of buying old books. I don’t mean used books, I mean old as in 50 or 100 years old. I suppose I’m a dweeb, but when I found a copy of Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad from 1906, I had to have it, and still get excited when I open it and think he might have actually touched it, too (it’s from a Connecticut library).

Several other antique books sit on my top shelf, out of reach of little hands. In large boxes I’ve never unpacked since we moved six years ago, all the LPs of my youth are crammed together, probably too warped to ever play again, but I can’t get rid of them. I love them. Some are rare, including The Beatles Rarities, and a white vinyl White Album. I have yet to switch to digital music, though I suppose it’s inevitable at some point.

Maybe I’m just upset I couldn’t write this weekend. As many times as I sat down at the laptop, I got up again. I had “monkey mind,” as Natalie Goldberg (and Buddhists) call it, and my thoughts were swinging from neuron to neuron, screeching with laughter at my attempts to lure them down.

Maybe it was just one of those weekends. Sometimes, I can tear up the keyboard from Friday night through Sunday night and rack up a word count of 12k or so. This wasn’t one of those weekends. But there will be others. That monkey's going down.


DMS said...

I feel much the same as you. I love the convenience of having so much at my fingertips- but at the same time there is so much to do! It can be dauntng at times.

I love the feel of a print book- so I hope that they will still play an important role in the future. You certainly have a lot of books on your Kindle! Wow! I have a lot of books to read- but they are all in print. :)

I hope the monkeys settle down!

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Jess. It's good to know others feel the same! I do have lots of print books to read, too, unfortunately. Stacks in my office, and by my bed. Sometimes I wish I could absorb them by osmosis!

Lorrie said...

Cate, I could never write these feelings as well as you, but you tell it like it is. You get on this mad loop of digests to read, FB,Kindle news, blogs, Book Blogs, LinkedIn, Good Reads. When is there time to write?
I love old books and I have a Kindle with many downloads I can't find the time to read.
I finally had a good day today. I managed a few pages. But truly, we just can't catch up, or do everything. And like you, I'd rather write. But, we do the best we can to boost friends, etc.

Great article.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We are a little more connected than we want to be sometimes. Shame about those who'd sell used eBooks. I use Firefox and so far haven't had a problem.
I admit I've contributed to the digital age, as I only buy eBooks now and I've downloaded music from iTunes for years. Once in a while I still buy the actual album though. And we still have a huge collection of LPs. Kids today probably have no idea what a 'record' is.

Cate Masters said...

Aw you're too sweet, Lorrie. It's actually good to hear others feel the same. I don't want to end up one of the statistics in that article, though sometimes I worry, lol

It might be my computer, too, Alex. It's getting old and tired. I have nothing against the digital age, it's just nice to escape occasionally.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It's like you're reading my mind. For the past week, I've been trying to just write. with only an hour in the morning and an hour at night to be online.
Book pirates are too digusting to thing about.

Cate Masters said...

That's a good strategy, Susan. I deliberately didn't connect my laptop to the Internet so I'd focus on writing, but this weekend it didn't help. Hope you're more disciplined than me, lol

Maria Zannini said...

I've been trying to extrapolate where all this digital re-selling and piracy will take us. So far, I'm not liking my conclusions.

The more I hear about people abusing and stealing our work, the more disgruntled I become.

As a famous computer once said: (from War Games)

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

We have not yet reached the technology necessary to protect ourselves and our work. Maybe we never will.

Cate Masters said...

Illegal downloading merchants (calling them pirates only romanticizes them) are disheartening and frustrating. I've heard of a few authors who simply gave up because too many downloaded their work rather than bought it. I'm hoping if we educate readers about how much it hurts authors, they'll at least think twice!