Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A World That's Touch and Go?

I love when three seemingly random occurrences suddenly gel as an aha! moment. The theme today is tangibility, as in “that which can be discerned by touch.”

Here are the occurrences that started me on the tangibility tangent.

  • My musician friend Tim just self-released a CD and my copy arrived in the mail last week. I held it in my hand and thought, “Wow. This is for friggin’ real.” I put it in my car CD player and whoa, there’s Tim playing guitar and singing his heart out.
  • A work colleague sent me some black and white photos of spectacular scenery at Dinosaur National Park in Colorado. They were Ansel Adams quality works. I found out that he lugs around tons of camera equipment and still uses FILM. That’s right – no digital camera for Mark. He even has his own darkroom.
  • I bought my nephew Hunter a Kindle for helping me with some home improvement projects this summer. We had an interesting talk on printed books versus e-books – particularly what will it be like for him to teach comparative literature one day at the university level. Will his students even use printed books?

My next thought was “I sure hope my first book gets published before print books go the way of the dinosaurs and become museum oddities.”

That gut-level reaction spoke to the need (desire?) to hold something solid in hands so I could shout, “Here’s my book! Lookie! I’m published!” Wouldn’t I still be published if the book was only available electronically?

Most of the books I read now are e-books. I rarely buy CDs because I download most of my music to an iPod nano. I use a digital camera for all my photography and “store” photographs on the computer instead of in albums or boxes in the closet.

I have no doubt that Tim’s music would have been just as amazing as a download, or that Mark could use a fancy digital camera to take the same breath-taking photos.

We live in the digital age and most of us are pretty comfortable with that notion on a day to day basis. And my “aha” moment is that I’m okay with e-publishing if that’s what’s meant to be. I’m curious what you think. Is our world becoming less tangible bit by bit, or will our notion of tangibility just need to morph?


  1. I'm SO with you... Recently started getting back into vinyl LP's, and it was NOT just my imagination-- there really IS something magical about poring over the liner notes and holding that jacket (gatefold, preferably) in my hands as I listen to the needle drop. Not trying to sound like a hipster... it's just tastier than the downloads, for me. Now if I could put out the latest cd on ALBUM... then I'd REALLY feel real...

  2. I feel like our world is becoming less tangible and find myself doing things that oppose the digital "reality"- writing and mailing real letters for instance, gives me real pleasure. I don't have an e reader and love to choose from the stack of books and magazines in my bedside table. I print out long articles from the web so I can read them while camping without a computer or phone nearby. I I guess I am old fashioned.

  3. I think it's already starting to morph at this point. I text message people like crazy to talk to them, and to me it's an acceptable form of communication, but to my parents it's just another annoyance of life and when I visit them, the texting is banned in the household.

    That said though, I really don't like e-readers. I prefer to hold a solid book in my hands to curl up with on a cold night. I love the smell and feel of them, and that's something an e-reader can't recreate.