The problem with e-readers

1 05 2010

A dark and gritty future ruled by giant corporations?  Cyberpunk didn’t know the half of it.

When I was playing role-playing games like Cyberpunk or Shadowrun back in college, tech implants and data feeds didn’t have compatibility issues.  You never had to worry about getting a data chip in a particular format because your reader wouldn’t handle a rival format.  Corps owned everything and everyone, but somehow the corp wars were restricted to the big picture, not to the stuff we carried around in our pockets every day, or implanted in our heads and wrists.  Of course, it was a game, and any game that rendered half of your cool equipment inoperable because of compatibility issues would cease being fun pretty quickly.

That’s kind of my point here.  I continue to look forward to a future a little like the one I role-played in college.  No, not the ruling mega-corps, or the totalitarian control  (I’m happy not to be living in Arizona just now), or the rampant poverty and inequity.  I long for the day when they make an e-reader that will work with e-books.  ANY e-books.  I don’t want to have to worry about my Kindle not talking to my Overdrive account.  I don’t want to be denied a particular title because the publisher doesn’t offer it in the format I use.  I want a reader that will load e-books.  Any e-book I want, from whatever source I want, regardless of format.  I want to keep my reading private when I want to, and I want to be able to show off the cover of what I’m reading to anyone who cares to glance over at me.  And I want to KEEP it– I don’t want it disappearing from my reader because the e-book provider decided to yank that edition.  I want to be able to share it, and loan it, and donate it, and pass it on to my heirs.  Why has OWNING a book turned into such an impossible concept?

Am I dreaming of an impossible future?  Probably.  Definitely, as long as we let the big corps set the terms of how it’ll be, since they seem determined to turn book ownership into book leasing.  Why don’t I own an e-reader yet?  Because e-books aren’t where they should be.  Because e-readers, for all their “convenience,” still aren’t convenient to ME; they don’t serve my needs.  Because an old-fashioned library still offers me a lot more choices than any e-reader in existence.


Refreshing my digital presence

1 05 2010

My, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?  I’ve allowed my digital presence to get dusty… or at least this corner of it.  Of course, I think half the reason I’m posting right now is that it’s in the mid-70s and I have a serious amount of digging to look forward to, to put in my bee bed (by which I mean flowerbed featuring plants that attract bees, not a… well… do bees sleep? (No.))

I’ve been thinking about that a great deal recently… the increasingly fractured “presence” we have in the world.  One of the celebrities I follow on Twitter recently announced that he was going to be dropping his Twitter presence in favor of Tumblr, the latest in microblogging, because it would allow him to share more with an equally easy-to-access format.

It got me thinking about how much of a sprawl my own “presence” is turning into.  There’s my physical presence, of course– me, my office, my home, my car.  Then we start moving into less personal presences– my phone (land and cel), my mailing address.  But things really blow up when we move into virtual presences: my email addresses (3 that I use regularly, and more that I don’t), my blogs (4 and counting), Facebook, Twitter, chat, IRC (yes, I’m old-fashioned that way), Flickr, YouTube, wishlist, multiple gaming accounts (some with multiple avatars), multiple forum and wiki accounts, online store accounts, online bank accounts… and that’s not even going into the big, muddy digital footprints I leave all over the place when I search the web, both for library and personal use.  (I suspect Amazon has my personal preferences down as “highly eclectic” at this point.)

I’m supposed to manage all of this somehow?  The more I list, the more daunting it seems.  I can understand the desire to move to a site that promises to consolidate at least some of that, but.. I go (online) where my work and my friends are.  I know I’m not likely to abandon Twitter or any of my blogs just because I’ve added something else.  All I’ll be doing is fracturing myself a little bit more.  Help, I want my virtual integrity back!