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January, 2008


Traffic Swarm For Writers

Standing On The Digital Platform
Paper-like magic
By  Ben Parris

The reading technology is new and e-books prolific but don't shelve books yet.
Call it my nature to despise being stuck waiting. Thus imbued with a healthy empathy, I hate to keep others waiting. To strike that balance, I like to arrive right on time, and I expect my technology to arrive right on time too. But here I am looking at my watch and wondering when the digital text platform will replace most books on paper.
 
It will happen just as surely as the index card catalogue made its way to little-drawer heaven. Many of us bibliophiles adore our books made of paper, though they be hard, soft, glossy, matte, and sometimes yellow. That's why their transition to electronics may proceed in the manner of radio giving way to television without ever disappearing altogether, and possibly enjoying a special-purpose renaissance. It could also go the way vinyl gradually lost all its shelf space to digital recordings, existing now only for the rarity collector. For the next decade or two, the book you hold in your hands may be somewhere in between.
 
As you noodle on this, beware the radicals, my friend. Pundits that lived in a hollow tree in the 1990's predicted that by the year 2005, no bookstore or library of paper books would exist. Their first reason was that all the baby boomers were spoiled by television. Furthermore, everyone alive was at least exposed to moving pictures in their childhood, and thus knows that it's better than reading. New writers, so it goes, had best restrict themselves to devising dialogue and camera angles. I don't know about you, but I have never seen a Stephen King story that was not vastly more delightful on the printed page than it was on the silver screen.
 
Indeed there has been a kind of decline in the status of books. We were reminded on the death of Norman Mailer that he bemoaned the change in his lifetime. More and more people are having books read to them on audio systems as they commute. These versions are sometimes a bit simplified. But in my neighbourhood, the already large Barnes & Noble just quadrupled in size, mostly filled with books made of paper for people who want their gaze to caress the page.
 
The second time pundits tried driving a stake in the pulpy heart of our reading material, they reasoned that everyone would be reading their books on the Internet by 2005. They failed to take into account the small matter of how the human eyeball works. The difficulty has to do with backlighting, and little dots, and none of that ever having been part of our natural selection in eons of evolution. I work on my computer almost all day, and as night falls, I feel like I've been punched in both eyes.

A pilot program forcing this kind of e-book into at least one Dayton, Ohio school in 1999 crashed and burned. The electronic reader involved was revealed to be nothing more than a poor man's laptop.

We needed more than small devices and self-lit screens to make e-books practical. That's why it's 2007 and the "digital text platform," as Amazon dubs it in their generic contract, is only now making its debut. Amazon's Kindle™ seems to be the market leader, with a cutting edge screen that some say is slightly easier to read from than a book, certainly no harder. Sony puts out a product called Portable Reader System™, also using spanking new technology with a paper-like screen. Both price them like new game systems with Amazon at the high end, and Sony lower (but close because Sony pushes a costly warranty). Both are sold out at the moment. I wouldn't cart away my bookshelves just yet, but I am putting one of my precious eggs in the digital text platform basket.


Ben Parris is a writer and public speaker based out of New York. He has contributed to such diverse publications as Scholastic Administrator, Long Island Science News, Apex Digest and Dollar Stretcher. His heavily researched historical-speculative fiction novel, Wade of Aquitaine, is available now on Amazon. Email: benparris@hotmail.com

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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

Poetry
The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

Pegasus
It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

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A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

Re-Verse
The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

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