Hank Jordan's Blog
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E-motions — an essay

August 8th, 2010 by Hank

We now live in the world of “E” – Email, E-books, Social mEdia, twttEr. facEbook, googlE, myspacE, linkEd-in, you name it. Wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that E is the most used letter of the alphabet?

It’s easy to see how the Internet has helped to fan the flames of this bold new world of communication. It’s a ME world as well as a WE world. Just about everyone wants to interact and communicate with others. It’s an emotional thing. If they can’t do it face to face, electronic nearness will suffice. They just want to keep in touch.

The new electronic and digital miracle products make it possible and even easy to extend ME to WE. Call it the herding instinct. It’s present in all animal species. Can you think of one single living thing that really wants to be alone all the time? Bears cuddle all winter long, snugly keeping each other warm, bees swarm together, fish swim in schools, birds fly in formations. These days even avid mountain climbers carry a cell phone along, so they will know they are really in touch with others, and not alone in Nature’s universe. Hermits are few and far between, an anomaly of life.

So what does this have to do with reading and writing (my world)? Everything. Mankind first used drawings on cave walls and rocks to get its thoughts across. Even though people could grunt at each other, and eventually talk to other people, they still wanted to communicate to many others what was on their minds. They wanted to interface with strangers so to speak.

Most of the cave and rock paintings show animals, but some reveal man-made mechanical objects, including space ships. I have some colorful rubbings framed and hanging on my wall at home that are images many thousands of years old, taken from rocks in the wilds of western Australia. They show some easily identified animals, but they also show several creatures that look more like thin steel framework bridges standing erect with a human head on top and very long legs and arms. Imaginary? Perhaps, but drawings from all around the world depict people and ships from outer space, clear to all but the most narrow-minded doubting minds. Many of these “people” are wearing space helmets, and some are shown arriving in chariots belching fire.

As civilization slowly progressed, men and women started carving messages in stone in the written word format, not just pictures. Later, priest scribes and others used inks to put thoughts on skin and other substances, to leave behind for others to read. Local tribes developed different languages (both written and verbal) but all wanted other people to know what they were thinking about.

Nothing has changed in substance, only in the details of the media. People want to be in touch with other people and they want others, both now and in posterity, to “read” what’s on their minds.

Scrolls and hand made single-copy volumes changed to printed books after Gutenberg made his movable type contribution to society. Printed books ruled for a long time. Nowadays, however, E-books are rapidly climbing in popularity. Texting is commonplace. It won’t be too long before traditional printed books will fade into near-obscurity. Who knows how long, but the trend is obvious and inevitable.

Already, most authors are now publishing in E-book format. Many are also publishing simultaneously in printed format – hard cover books, paperback books, and pamphlets.

Folks with an E-book reader can now take thousands of books along with them wherever they go, stored in a device about the size of a cell phone. Dozens of different models of E-books are already available. New ones are being announced weekly.

The tides of publishing and communicating are changing rapidly. Its time for all of us to pay attention.

Posted in E-Books, Internet, Philosophy

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