How Technology Changed Reading

You’re thinking this will be a post about reading on a device?

Wrong.

It’s not about that at all. It’s about how technology, social media, and computers have changed the way we interact with the book world. Authors are everywhere. Social media, newsletters, Goodreads.

If I have a question for an author, I can post it on GR and it will get answered. Or I can Tweet to that author. Once, I Tweeted to a beloved author (Teresa Medeiros) that I was recklessly in love with one of her heroes. I don’t normally crush on fictional heroes (except Captain America), but no matter how many times I read that book or others, I just plain love him. (I said all this in 140 characters or less) and she responded that of all her heroes, she has a soft spot for him as well. Swoon! So, like any good fan, I said to her, if you had to cast him in a movie, who would play him? Not that I was interested, but even though he was described in the book, I had a picture of him in my mind and I wanted to know what he looked like to HER, his creator. Very shortly, she replied. Christian Kane! No kidding. My favorite book hero ever and she thinks my favorite celebrity should play him? Oh my. I think I may have passed out. But now that I’ve fully recovered, I view that book and that author differently. My love for them is a bit deeper having interacted with her.

Another author (Sarina Bowen) I like let me join a behind the scenes team that gets the opportunity to talk about her books in advance of their publication. That just makes me feel cool.

An author (Jeff Zentner) I recently discovered published his second novel. Before it came out he Tweeted a link to the first three chapters. I got to read a preview. When I thanked him online, he responded. It made me feel valuable. There is a connection that had never before been present and it enhances my reading life.

Let’s scoot forward to today. If you know me, you know I am a crazy emailer. Pretty quick response time. But I don’t often check email on weekends. And weekends that include my birthday? Not even a bit. So when I saw this email this morning, in the form of a newsletter from an author I enjoy, I read it.

It included a short blurb about 20 free copies of one of her books being available on iBooks. you just had to be one of the first 20 people to respond to this email. Normally I am all over this sort of thing. I am ready to be one of the first 20. But this email came out on Saturday. I didn’t see it until today. That is DAYS later. I figure there is ZERO chance that there are any free copies left.

But, never one to leave a stone unturned, I respond back, regardless. I said “bad weekend to be off email for my birthday, I’m guessing, but is there any chance I’m the 20th person to respond?” Again, I figured zero chance and didn’t even figure on a response. I cannot imagine that at least 20 people didn’t want a free book, especially if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter

Imagine my surprise, when, a couple hours later, I get a response from the author. She wrote, “the 20 were gone days ago, but I just contacted them now and got another free code, for you. Happy birthday, here’s to being the 21st!”

No kidding, she did that for me. Eve Silver is her name and I’ve been reading her books for years. I was so touched. I mean, she did not have to do that, I totally did not expect it, but by doing so, she made me a fan for life. I probably already was, but this cemented it for sure. Now I have the book and gratitude for her kindness. This is something that couldn’t have happened before technology put us in touch with people we will never meet.

Thank you, Eve Silver. I’m super excited to read your book, it was an amazing birthday gift.

(For anyone wondering the book is Sins of the Heart by Eve Silver)

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Out of Control

Anyone else feel like technology is getting out of control?

I mean, really, who actually NEEDS this much technology?

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Yep, I have three iPads. That is my desk, just a few minutes ago, at precisely 2:43 pm. The one on the right, bearing the handsome face of Christian Kane, that is my personal iPad, the iPad 4. The one on the left, with the beach photo is my old work iPad, the iPad 2. The one in the center, with the mountain and stars, is my new work iPad, the iPad Air 2. Our old work iPads were out of date and not as current as the students I am teaching, so we got the newest tech.

The new one arrived today and that is how I found myself with not one, not two, but three iPads on my desk at the same time. All mine. Oh, and I took the photo with my iPhone.

Yeppers, this tech is out of control!

Letting Go

Do you still remember your childhood phone number?

Do you still remember when people only had one phone number?

Do you remember when you had to remember phone numbers?

Do you still remember when there wasn’t call waiting and caller ID?

Do you remember life before cell phones?

I do, but it gets harder every day. I remember my childhood phone number. I also remember Kelly’s childhood phone number, but that’s the number I called more than any other, even my own, so it makes sense. I wonder if she remembers mine?

At any rate, when I was in the sixth grade, my parents moved us out of the city, to the suburbs. This meant a new address, new phone number and many other “new” things. It was transitory, but not terrible. Kelly and I devised a system to scam the USPS in order to send each other letters. (Do you remember writing letters?) In time, the new became the regular and it was another step toward realizing that change happens and we always adapt.

Technology has changed a great many things in life, many for the good. One of the most startling changes, I think, is the telephone system. Fewer and fewer people have landlines now. Cell phones are everywhere. No more “I wasn’t home”, it doesn’t matter, your phone goes where you are. When I bought my house, it never even crossed my mind to get a land line. It would have been great to get my “own” home phone number, but I guess that is what my cell number is for.

Still, my parents had a phone. It was the second of my childhood numbers. I remember the third, the second line my parents put in. The “kids'” line. My friends could call me there, but they didn’t call the “parents” line, that was for the adults, their friends, and, I suppose, the bills and crap that come with kids and a house. When we got the second line, I thought we were rich. People on television had two phone lines…not us. I always felt cool telling my friends, this is my line–not my parents’ line.

Eventually, the second line went away. I don’t know if it was financial or just unnecessary, but eventually it was gone. Then, from that day on, the number from home was just the one. My second childhood number. To this day my parents still have that number. It is number one on my favorites list on my cell phone. It is far and away my most called number.

My parents, like most people, have gotten cell phones. My dad only a couple years ago, he was a stubborn hold out. Not only did he get one, he actually uses it. He calls me from it all the time. He said he likes that the numbers are stored in it, so he doesn’t have to remember anyone’s phone number.

Today, I got an email from my mom. She and dad are canceling the land line and living off their cell phones alone, like many of the rest of us. It wasn’t a surprise, I’ve been encouraging it for some time. It seems ridiculous for two people to pay for three phones. But, the email came and announced that the cancellation is happening tomorrow. Just one more day. I was seized with the sudden urge to call the number several times, just because I won’t be able to anymore. Mere moments after digesting that info, my mom called me at work. From the soon-to-be discarded land line. I had a moment of “oh, this will be the last time this number shows up on my work caller ID” and it was.

It seems ridiculous to obsess over losing a phone number (“It’s just a number” – Mom) but it seems sad. Like letting go of another piece of childhood, of youth, of my past. I also received the renewal notice for my license, it is coming up at my birthday. I’ll finally be changing my address–it’ll no longer have my “home” address, it will instead carry the address of where I live. (Yes, it has been over a year in my house and my license still shows the old address, get over it).

They are bits and pieces, tiny moments we take for granted. You probably never think about a phone number, until you’re smacked in the face with it being gone. With all due respect to my mother, I think numbers are more than just that, they are connections, ways of keeping us in touch with the ones we love. I’ll still be able to call my parents, I’m not losing them, or losing touch, but the thought of never calling that number again is sad. It is a piece of my history and it is time to let go.

Technology has replaced the staid practices of my youth, and that’s okay. I’ll always have the memories and one day I’ll be playing one of those silly games with my grandkids and I’ll rattle off my “landline” and I’ll have to explain what that was. The same way my parents told me about party lines. Maybe this is just a rite of passage.

Technological Thank You

A retired Hamline professor just called for some help. He needed to access an article to reference during a speech he will be giving to 4,000 people next month.

I guess that makes it a big deal.

He’s been trying and trying and could not find the full text of the article.

I helped him and we found it in like three minutes.

Once he had downloaded the full article, he was giddy with joy.

He said to me, “oh, thankyou thankyou thankyou, you have no idea what you’ve done for me. I wish we were on Skype so you could see how big my smile is.”

I guess that’s technology speak for “I appreciate the help.”

Sometimes, people really make me laugh.