Today I was reading a real live book at a café. Normally I only read books available on the kindle but I was reading the “Evolution of God” by Robert Wright (because the book itself does not come out officially until next week). Great book.
But the point is that two random people came up to me in the café and asked me about the book and we had a conversation about religion, good books, and more. Now I frequently get people asking me about the kindle … but that is a more common technology conversation. Here we had a real conversation about real ideas.
I did that the other day when I saw someone reading Atlas Shrugged on an airplane. But as we all move to reading books on our devices, we wont know what people in our proximity are reading anymore and conversations between strangers will go down. (maybe this is happening anyway as you’re much less likely to talk to someone with headphones in their ear).
This past winter I was walking down Market St. in San Francisco. I remember seeing sooo many people with earbuds in and no one made eye contact with anyone else.
I remember being jolted by the thought “Great. iPods. Yet another way to avoid each other.”
I contrast that with visiting Ukraine – every day we had genuine conversations, and over dinner there was always great fun and deep thought. One of their great worries? The distractions that technology is bringing to their culture.
Although I can relate to the point and generally I agree, I think we need to ask ourselves if this will always stay true? What will happen if the kindle has the ability to see what other people with kindles around you are reading? What would happen if we could see that on other devices. For years we heard that technology will create barriers for communication between people. My personal experience is, that it just changes the way we communicate. Sometimes, for people like me, it actually allows better ways to communicate with people, whom I probably never would have communicated with before. Would I be able to write this comment without technology? Or even read this post? We need to think on what we are gaining it might be different, but it is not necessarily wrong.
The Kindle simply needs a screen on the back to display the cover art for the book you are currently reading. Or some other book 🙂
Dan (in the comment above) has already said what I had in mind. :). Perhaps the next gen kindle can have the cover displayed on the backside screen! That said, its probably upto us as to how we let technology affect the way we lead our lives!
Excellent observation. This is one of those unintended consequences of technology. Who would have guessed that the Kindle would reduce conversations about ideas?
You mentioned Atlas Shrugged and conversations about ideas in the same post — not sure how that combination could possibly work.