Archives for the month of: June, 2010

Weird title is weird. Chalk it up to one of my Cream-O highs.

Lately I’ve been on an ebook download spree. I’ve acquired a good number of books which would probably take me years to read. It’s a hoarder habit, I know, but I would like to imagine that I have a full ‘virtual library’. I have a book shelf full of books right here at home, but while some of them are my favorites, most in the selection aren’t of my choosing. My ‘virtual library’, on the other hand, mostly has fantasy books (fantasy being my favorite fiction genre) with the occasional English grammar-related book thrown in. Hey, you never know when the prepositions really matter.

Books

Unappetizing - for some

After getting my certainly-more-than-one-hundred collection and reading a couple of them blessed PDFs, I came to this conclusion:

Real-life, honest-to-goodness books are still better.

Yes, yes, I know that going digital has probably saved a fair swath of our forests. I acknowledge that, I love trees (give them a hug – they have less issues than you). Seriously now, going ‘paperless’ – digitizing your documents, books and notes – has lots of advantages. For starters, you save trees, which by itself is one of the coolest things you could do. Second, you can be assured that termites won’t be gnawing them to produce their communal housing (or whatever they do with paper anyway). I can attest how heartbreaking it is to see your beloved books eaten by those pesky creatures. In a sense,  you can be assured that your books would be preserved for a long time because they’re online and therefore, aren’t in the same plane of existence with the termites, yellow-page-phenomena, rats and accidental spilling. Third, it facilitates easy sharing – and you don’t even have to worry the ink smudging your fingertips. Lenin’s book NOT in the library (and you have recitation on Tuesday)? Don’t worry, I’ve downloaded it and would gladly share it with you! As a nice bonus, said book doesn’t even weigh a feather, because it’s online.

But still.

It must seem to be purely aesthetic and ‘tradition’, but books still have an edge over their digital counterparts. A PDF version of ‘A Storm of Swords’ will be sweet for a back-up copy, but I still cherish my real-life, almost-two-inch-thick paperback.   For one thing, my paperback ‘Storm of Swords’ weigh considerably less than my laptop, making it easier to carry around. While my book will probably succumb to yellowing and – heaven forbid – termites, it doesn’t require electricity to read. If I don’t have a laptop or a Kindle, then it’s fine. Moreover, I’ve seen unofficial ebook versions which are formatted poorly and are a pain to read. At the very least, real-life published books aren’t like that (or has less chances of looking like that).

During my OJT, my boss once told me that while reading news online is convenient, there’s something ‘different’ in reading newspapers. She told me that unlike online articles, newspapers are ‘real’, in the sense that they exist physically. If you keep it somewhere and decide to look at it again, you can retrieve it and affirm that yes, it did exist – it’s in your hand, after all. I think it’s the same with books. There’s a surge of excitement when you peel away the plastic and open it for the first time. There’s something satisfying in turning the pages, of feeling the paper between your fingers. It has a very old-school but very physical presence. It’s real, and you have it.

In the end though, I think ebooks are winning. Last year’s Christmas season saw the rise of ebook sales over published books. Publishers release ebook versions of their books, perhaps with a lower price. I’m fine with the transition, but I guess it will take some time before I truly forget the old-school charms of a heavy tome in your hands.

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Title shamelessly ripped off a LOLcat picture. No, I haven’t turned jejemon. Heaven forbid.
The fact that this writing can be read online instead on a piece of paper somewhere just proves the pervasive power of the Internet. Years ago schoolwork like this would be found handwritten or printed, but definitely not in a blog. Indeed, the Internet is now integrated to the needs and lifestyle of this generation. From news, entertainment, time-wasters, information – if you thought about it, Google it and chances are, there’s a page somewhere in the vastness of the Internet devoted to that idea of yours. And if it doesn’t? Nowadays it’s very easy to create your own little niche in the online world, so no problem there.
This particular wonder called the Internet has made the world smaller and communication easier. Life has become more comfortable. The Internet brought us closer to our friends and loved ones, but it also made you rub shoulders (so to speak) with strangers. And the fact is, we’re rubbing shoulders with many, many strangers. The idea of 100 or even 1000 miles has become less daunting thanks to the fact that all it takes is Yahoo messenger, Facebook or Skype to bridge that gap, not an airplane, ship or a car trip. Our overseas friends are now a click away. So are troublemakers, hackers, trolls and other people we wouldn’t want knowing our passwords. And why would we have so many passwords to many sites and services in the first place? It’s because we have come to depend on the Internet for various comforts. Now, it’s not something to be strictly categorized as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing, but it does expose us and our personal information to the online predators. On the flip side, the Internet has allowed us to enjoy some guilty pleasures, like piracy. Let’s face it, we like free things. I believe this is the biggest reason why piracy has the tenacity of a cockroach. The anonymous geniuses of cyberspace hand out free games and applications, which people download with a smile and the occasional ‘thank you’ comment (hey, politeness does exist online).
Okay, I know it looks like we’re standing on the edge of the downhill slide to pessimism now.
Mr. Gates nicely pointed out the Internet isn’t always rainbows and roses. True enough and I agree with that. And to disagree with Mr. Gates, I believe that the Internet’s ‘Wild West’ reputation isn’t completely unjustified, not when it’s free for anyone who has the means to use it. Moreover, people have a million different reasons to be online, and it doesn’t matter if people are online for kicks or for crime – no one can stop them from joining the cyber crowd. This freedom made the Internet flourish, but it also allowed for people of all stripes and hides to proliferate online. While there are talks of ‘Internet security’ and restrictions, trying to keep up with the unchecked growth and number of people already present online – which is a place of no formal authority – is a colossal task. If they ever come up with these rules, I think the online community would not take these ‘safety harnesses’ kindly.
And no, despite the apparent pessimism of my words, I don’t believe that the Internet is the herald of the end of the world, or anything less dramatic but still evil. Exaggerations aside, my belief is that as the Internet grows, so are its benefits and its headaches. It’s just that the Internet is a tool for everyone regardless of intent. Being optimistic is fine and dandy, but it would be a long time before our cyber-utopia happens.

(Bill Gates’ essay can be found here.)

Okay, here are the formalities.

My name is Precious and you can call me Precky. Or Perks. Or Franze, that’s part of my first name anyway. Or Precious, if you find the aforementioned names too strange. Anyways, I’m a 4th year Organizational Communication student from the University of the Philippines Manila. And unlike the majority of blogs out there made to share views, angst, stories and other personal stuff, this blog is made for a school subject (ORCOM 152 – Communication Trends and Styles). Well, that and to try out blogging that’s not about spleen-venting rants, manga/anime fan-gushing or plain random entries. I already have a feeling that it’s going to be a mite difficult, but hey, at least this blog will be more intelligent than my LJ one. Hopefully it would be worth the read.

Alright, let’s get the ball rolling.