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The importance of books and the complete experience

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Being a purist in many ways, I have resisted the convenience of e-readers and tablets as the medium I prefer to consume books.  Certainly toting around Ken Follett’s latest tome Winter of the World around has its downsides–falling asleep being crushed beneath a massive hard cover is not a pleasurable experience.  However, reading an a book and the whole tactile experience that goes along with it is something not matched in screen form.

While reading a recent post on Mindful Stew, I was reminded of a The Globe and Mail article I read which recounted Margaret Atwood having defended the internet and social media as “a great driver of literacy” as it caused people to read and thereby stimulate their brain in a variety of ways.  The point of the article, however, was that the brain of screen readers develops in a vastly different way; the neurological networks of an “expert reader” are vastly different and more developed than those of an over stimulated screen reader.  The article went on to say that the kind of reading done in a hyper linked, hyper stimulating environment fosters a brain that is unable to focus in a deep and meaningful way, something that they termed “Twitter brain”, causing the mind to work in an infantilized mode.

Likewise, a recent article in The Toronto Star points out that old fashioned text books are more effective at conveying information than e-books.  It points out that the physical cues that trigger links to memories and information simply aren’t the same in the e-reader, and thus the pathway to those memories is less likely to be located.  Also the ability to fan through pages of a textbook to find the information you’re looking for is no longer possible.  Now one must laboriously scroll to find their spot.

There are lots of students who would gladly not lug their back breaking Science and Math textbooks home at the end of the day, but it seems that replacing books with virtual copies has its drawbacks too.

Certainly a book has never run out of batteries in the middle of a canoe trip, and for that I will gladly haul them over many portages on my back.

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Words

January 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Unlike the French language, which has a committee of protectorates that decide which new words are included in the dictionary, the English language continues to evolve based solely on common usage.  While this approach does seem to adhere to common sense, it has one glaring flaw.  Common usage and correct usage are often two completely different things.  As an teacher of the language, I recognise that considering one’s self as one of the few remaining bastions of the language is not a view that every body shares. But seriously, we all have to draw the line of tolerance somewhere.

Perhaps my most hated of words, due to the fact that it is emblematic of an increasingly illiterate and illogical population, is IRREGARDLESS. It does appear in the dictionary*, but take a moment and think about it.  We all understand the way responsible and irresponsible correspond; likewise the way thoughtful and thoughtless relate.  This blemish on the language, however, takes things to a whole new level.

Remember kids, double negatives just don’t not make any sense! 

*Note: in the hard copy English Dictionary that I own the
definition of Irregardless actually reads See Regardless

Blinding Cold

January 14, 2009 5 comments

Coldest morning yet
Frigid wind chills my face, damn
Left eye frozen shut

Categories: Words

The Morning After

January 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Tip toe
Bleary eyed
Walk in line
Too deprived
To recognize
These cigarettes
Aren’t mine

Categories: Words
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