Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I don't use an eReader--and hopefully never will

There are several technologies that have changed my life.  The move to CCDs and digital photography revolutionized the photo business and enabled companies like Corbis, where I spent 8 years scanning film and building the huge digital collection.  Electrophotographic print devices like HP Indigo, Xerox iGen, and Canon CLC proved that you didn't have to use silver halide materials to create one-off image-intensive prints and paved the way for the mass personalization that is so prevalent today. The Internet changed forever how we do business, and the smartphone changed the style in which that business is done.

If I had tried to imagine what my work life today would be like back when I was running a professional photo lab in the 80's I don't think I would have come close.  Keeping an eye on Blurb's global print network means that I'm at various parts of the country and the world at any given time, and the sun never sets on places where we do business.  Questions and issues don't wait for regular business hours and have to be managed in real time.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the business I'm in could not exist in it's current form without the free-flowing communication that mobile devices bring.

But there is a downside of course.  Since I am remote from Blurb's headquarters I'm on the phone a lot.  Always.  Every day.  And because of this I've lost my ability to have a non-business phone conversation without trying to figure out how to end it quickly.  Talking on the phone has become synonymous with work.

It's very much the same with things I read.  During the week I take all of my news on-line, but on the weekends I crave my paper New York Times.  I even save some parts of the Sunday times to read during the week so I can savor it a bit.

Reading anything on a screen puts me into "work mode".  It's a sickness that I can't kick, the bit of OCD that serves me well when dealing with business but puts me in exactly the wrong space if I want to read for pleasure.  That's why I don't have a Kindle or a Nook.  I do have an iPad but I use it for "consumable" reading and to keep the weight of what I carry from town to town at a minimum.

I know that eBooks are what most folks talk about and I'm excited to see the possibilities that exist to new authors that did not in the past when publishers held all of the cards.  But to me a "transmissive" experience equals work or research and a "reflective" one equates to reading on my own terms.

Technology has indeed changed my life quite a bit.  But I'm determined to not allow it to completely run my life.  And reading books with ink on paper is my small rejection of a completely digital world.

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