Month: May 2010

Reading’s Future

Behind, somewhat, on working my way through my reading pile, I came across an iPad article from the April 5th Newsweek, “What’s So Great About The iPad?” (Anna Quindlen). I’ve been fond of her writing for awhile, so this was a must read, especially considering the synergy between writer and the subject. She isn’t as focused on the iPad, rather the state of reading and the impact (iMpact?) of e-readers on the book and reading. I’ve been wondering for awhile how the iPad, or any of these devices, will change the market…much less reading. Perhaps, just maybe, this could be a more productive way to manage my reading?

Is the book dead? No. Transforming? Yes. She points out a few key statistics. First, it’s not youth that are driving the new market. Rather, it is middle-aged men (her statement was that specific). I don’t know if her assertion that this might be due to adjustable font sizes is the driver, or that simply they’re the ones who can afford the devices? Another thing that middle-aged men (especially those with significant discretionary income) tend to travel a great deal. They would be a major beneficiary of the ebook’s prime benefit: one device with hundreds of books. Besides, the changes in other sectors (CDs and MP3 for music; tv, vhs and dvd’s for video), well, the ones that result in major demographic transitions, get driven by youth first and then flow up to the other age groups (think Facebook). Additionally, she points out a significant up-tick in the number of people currently reading a book “currently” (18% in 1952, 47% in 2005). So, I don’t expect that the electronic reader will displace the paper book anytime soon. Not until the cost comes down dramatically, at least. And the gee-whizz app comes onboard.

As I consider the subject, I’m reminded of vinyl records. CDs were going to kill them. And, actually, they had…at least to the naked eye. Turns out there’s still demand (and companies selling), and a debate about the superiority of the CD. I love Ms. Quindlen’s statement, “Americans, however, tend to bring an either-or mentality to most things…”. We do love hyperbolic drama…look at politics and political speech. Anyway, I’m reminded of all the discussion, back in the 90s mostly, about the demise of Apple, Inc. as they didn’t have the largest market share. Microsoft had the largest market share, so everyone else is dying. No consideration of the profitability of the company. Now look at things. The prognosticators and now, of course, predicting the demise of MSFT. Much like the immortals in Highlander, they feel there can be only one. I find the notion laughable. There is room for more than one technology. One can exist without being dominant in the market. And, shocking from me I’m sure, new isn’t always better.

I’ve wondered if having all my materials in one place, i.e.: a Kindle or iPad, would enable me to work through the pile quicker. If nothing else, having it with me “all the time” would provide more chances to read through the pile at odd moments. Perhaps, though, I benefit from not fitting every moment with productivity. I feel pressure to fill every moment with productivity…what I have I completed today? How many items on my task list have I checked off? Quiet and calm have value. Just like paper books. They may not be the most efficient, or most dazzling, but they work. We need to remember that the can be more than one medium, more than one platform, more than one way of doing things. We’re better for the diversity.

Early Morning Recollections

Suddenly, at this insane hour, I remember being in Asia as a boy. I'm
not exactly sure where we where; probably Singapore. I remember a
series of figurines depicting some battle. What stuck me most
powerfully was the graphicness. Blood everywhere, heads missing;
grotesque. I was disturbed and frightened. Enough so that I remember
it clearly more than thirty years later.

Why now? Such an odd moment for such a memory to burst from the murk
of personal history. Randomness from the human brain, especially THIS
collection of personal synapses, is hardly unusual. I've learned that
these memories have triggers. Answers will come with time, with

My "now" has been filled with self-analysis, diving deeper into who I
am and what I do. Career had been at the forefront. The rest of me has
been, somewhat, neglected in this. Perhaps a piece of this is a hint
to expand past one narrow piece of my life, regardless of how much of
my time is taken up by career. Perhaps…

Yet, there's more. A few weeks back, the house across from my parents
burned. 30 years ago, this month, my best friend's family lived there.
Well, 30 years ago was when that came to an abrupt end. Coming home
from school, a coroner's car in the driveway, the picture on the front
page of the local paper: "Murder/Suicide" screamed. Memories of a
husband and wife who maybe bickered at times, broken against horror. A
friend's psyche fragmented.

All these years later, I still struggle with this. This clearly holds
a defining place in my personality. Yet my memories are weak, vague.
Perhaps, pulling this other horror from my past, more innocuous,
safer, I'm trying to frame this other moment. Perhaps….

A Design Career

As cool as another web design class sounds, I’m thinking of getting a copy of CS5 and exploring “manually”. In particular, I haven’t had a chance to mess with InDesign for several iterations. I believe that the last version I explored was prior to the CS Suite bundling. I’ve never used InDesign in a professional setting. The last product I used with Quark, and I’m not sure the version. So I’m really interested in bringing my desktop publishing skills current. Well, at least production environment software-wise. I am up-to-date with MS Publisher. Anyway, I could try and get CS4, as with CS5’s release, I should be able to get CS4 at a huge discount. And, from what I’ve been reading, getting my skills up-to-date with CS4 might work well.

NYTimes: Seven Children Killed in School Attack in China

Yet again, another frightening attack on children. The NYTimes does a
good job here exploring some if the possible causes of this string of
attacks. Questions are raised, though some of the hypothesis are
simplistic. It will be telling if the Chinese government finally
decides to deal with the issue versus simply hiding it.

From The New York Times:

Seven Children Killed in School Attack in China

The children and a teacher were stabbed to death at a kindergarten in
China in the latest in a bizarre series of attacks on children.

Career? Pain in the Rear?

Still wondering about my career next steps. I’ve been an admin so long, it’s hard to envision some other role. I like to picture myself in some creative function, whether writer, web designer, or such. Yet I wonder whether I’m gifted creatively. Am I pursuing something I have no talent in?

When I consider what people tell me I’m gifted at, it isn’t art. I’m a talented organizer, manager, even a good analyst. There is so very much more to learn to be excellent in those roles.

Perhaps these views are due to limited exposure of my creative efforts? I don’t show my work much. I’m a bit self-concious, still. Perhaps a residual of my suburban upbringing? Maybe that should be a focus of mine in the near-term?

As my contract at Microsoft creeps upon it’s end date, these discussions take on an added urgency. Yet answers aren’t easily forthcoming.


I’ve been exploring’s offerings. Particularly their iPhone app. Though not surprised by the number of calories I consume, I am stunned by the amount of fat and just blown away by the amount of sodium. Eating fewer calories won’t be the real challenge. Getting my sodium intake to a healthy level, though, will require wholesale lifestyle rework.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone