Ah, the first Monday in January when the holidays are over, hubby is back at work, and daughter is sleeping late before her first day back at school tomorrow. Ah, the silence, the peace, the solitude, and the joy of sitting in bed, warm and cozy but awake, and having a quiet hour to read and reflect.
I wish all of you could read the excellent essays I've just finished which were published in the Winter Edition of Authors Guild Bulletin. The first is by Roy Blount Jr., President of the Authors Guild, and the latter is The Internet vs. Books by Beau Friedlander, founder of Context Books who is currently Editor in Chief of AirAmerica.com, are the kind of writing that speaks to writers, for different reasons.
From the President
Blount's quarterly remarks were an amusing statement about the writer's condition: we'll never be rich but we're smart enough to make some bucks doing what we love. In his inimitable style, he espouses the joy of taking care of his money investments the old-fashioned way: living in his real estate and banking any excess bucks.
The Internet vs. Books
Friedlander's essay which originally was published in 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, mirrors my own thoughts about this subject. Yes, the Internet and search engines have made research much easier, but in doing so, people rely more and more on Google, et al, exclusively rather than doing independent research to verify or dispute what they find online.
Yes, it's great to easily find maps of migratory patterns of birds, but users should be suspect when a subject they research turn up the same blog entries as source material. Information is only as accurate as the person who inputs it into a blog or other application.
Yes, books can be published in less than two months from concept to publication using any of the instant publishing vehicles available, but does that mean the book is an accurate source of information or, in some cases, is the book even edited well and free of common grammatical errors?
I was forced to agree with every point Friedlander made as well as the counterpoints made by people he quoted as well as the popular opinion of steadfast printed material defenders.
Paradigm Shift or Rift
Sometimes, I do fear that our culture is collapsing. Everything we have is built on thousands of years of knowledge. Suddenly, we're in a world where young people don't know how to spell common names. My first name is usually written JONE any time I give it to a kid in a fast food establishment. Last week when this happened, and when, at the same time, the kid waiting on us was so confused by my giving her a $20.00 bill and a quarter for the $14.75 tab, I was convinced that our society was doomed.
Of course, once I'd eaten, my gloomy outlook vanished, but there's a lot of truth in the fear that our thousands of years of learning will vanish too in this paradigm shift. I've discovered it's easy to fascinate young people with my breadth of knowledge because they no longer are taught history, geography, and grammar as I was in school, and I don't mean in college.
Like Friedlander, I want to believe that there can be a ceasefire with printed matter and the Internet symbiotically coexisting.