Tag Archives: trees

e-books vs p-books

Standard

I have just had a print version of my book Five Lives One Day in Bahrain placed in the country’s popular bookstore Jashanmal’s. The response with friends going out and buying them has once again surprised me. Obviously there seems to still be a hankering for good old fashioned ‘paper’ books. So, I thought I’d release an old piece wherein I had thought that e-books were about to dethrone books of paper…

E-books vs P-books

There’s always that edge between the new and the old, more like a shoreline than a knife. A kind of gradual taking over of one way of doing things from another. An inexorable tide. And as anyone who’s played catch with an in-coming tide will tell you, if you stand pat the next wave could knock you off your feet.

The decision then, is yours whether to retreat, to hold onto the old ways and never leave these shores and therefore never discover a new world, or see the old one from a new perspective. The trouble with ‘the new wave’ is that it is only an incoming tide; it never recedes.

What is it about books, Paper books that we love? Some will tell you it’s holding it in your hands that makes a difference. The tactile connection between the written word and your senses. The feeling that because one touches it, there may be an osmotic transference of knowledge, a story, a thought. By touching the pages, flicking through them they enter the blood stream directly.

More, a p-book, if you’ll excuse the play on the letter, carries with it a smell. There are, I understand, a growing number of confessors to the subtle and swift act of sniffing a p-book. In fact, I believe, there’s been a study on what causes that unique, euphoric, some would say mind-expanding smell of a book. It’s caused by chemicals termed Volatile Organic Compounds or, in the case of old books a combination of “the gradual breakdown of cellulose and Lignin – in the paper – binding adhesive or glue and printing ink”. Interesting that what attracts us to the old paper books is decay. A prescient intimation that the form itself is telling us to move on.

And e-books?

More than a new wave, they represent a sea change and if we refuse to adapt and accustom ourselves to reading them then a time may come when all new information, thought, ways of expressing ourselves, will be lost to us. For those who have never been exposed to the form, sentences like: ‘d trbl w u is dat u unliked me, dat’s y m leaving’ could well be the e-book’s farewell to the p-book.

E-books offer us a myriad other options. Knowledge at our fingertips, no need for osmosis and retention in our hippocampus just Google it while you’re reading. No need to get up in search of a dictionary, some e-books have one embedded in them, easily accessible – right click and voila, it’s there.

From Gutenberg to a number of e-book inventors (including Bob Brown, Roberto Busa,Angela Ruiz Robies, Doug Engelbert and Andries van Dam and Michael S Hart) the motivation and holy grail has been the wider dissemination of knowledge. But, whether information and access to it equates to knowledge is another discussion altogether.

The other, less celebrated aim is convenience. And the e-book supplies that in spades. Increase the font, reduce or enhance the backlighting, adjust contrast, things you can’t do with a p-book. Agreed, the bookmarks aren’t as pretty.

In the end we are torn between nostalgia for yesterday and the thirst for the knowledge that tomorrow promises. Like Eve we reach out, pluck an e-book out of cyberspace and confess to downloading it. After the first time, like all sins, it becomes easier.

We find ourselves drawn away from paper, trees and roots. Anchor-less we float towards the stars and in free-fall we find that we can dance.

 

FOR MORE NEWS & VIEWS, Click Here and see what Paulo Coelho has to say on this subject.

Advertisements

Twig & Leaf

Standard

All I need is a compliment… I posted a fragment from this piece on Facebook and one person’s reaction prompted me to reproduce this dramatic little dialogue that I wrote many moons ago when there were fewer high rise buildings in Bahrain, when our apartment in Muharraq looked out to the sea where dhows lounged on the beach and the causeway to the Diplomatic area was a quiet passageway and the country was asleep by ten at night.

A TWIG AND A LEAF

A bird introduced the story. It twittered: “This is the story of leaf and twig. Of self and self. Which destiny is yours dear listener? Which road to dusty death would you take?”

Twig:   “The wind blows and I move.”

Leaf:   “The breeze breathes and I dance. I quiver with its tiniest breath. Silver. Golden green. The sunlight warms me and I glory in its warmth. The moonlight shimmers on me and I play a dainty game with moonbeams. But you, you are stiff and angular. Your movements are scratchy. Scritching. And scratching. And squeaky.”

Twig:   “Just because I am more firmly set it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the wind or the sun. Or that the silver moonlight does not make dramatic patterns with me. I am strong. And you are weak. Too emotional. Too full of movement. Too light. You dance today. But all too soon that loving sun will make you wilt and you will fall and be crushed.”

Leaf:     “Drop I shall some day. But not before the sun and the wind have caressed me into the most exciting hues of green and yellow and russet, a russet that would rival a sunset. Colours that have made poets sing. What poets have sung of you, Twig?”

Twig:     “No. That is true. No poets sing of me. I am the coarse, unlovely of the world. The bark grows hard around me. It shelters me from the sun and the wind of life. But it constrains me too. Confines the sap that flows within. Warm sap that longs to leaf sometimes. That aches to dance.

And, yet I know that if I were a leaf, I would dread the day when I should fall. Having metamor­phosed from glorious green and yellow on to russet and hectic red. Fall and be crushed. Stamped out. And forgotten. No. I would rather be a twig. And never live or love so much, so close to life that some day I shall, I must be turned to dust, ignominiously…under the foot of some uncaring, unthinking, unloving passerby.”

Leaf: “Perhaps. But twig, dear twig, to love is all. Why should it matter how you leave this world? We must all be crushed and torn some day. So live. Live and love and laugh and dance today!”

Twig:   “No. No. I cannot… And yet, should I? No. I must not. For I support the leaves.”

Of Woods & A Woodpecker

Standard

E-mail exchanges give rise to some goofing around for me. Here’s a little joke that is perhaps doing the rounds,

Two Woodpeckers

Mail Attachment10This Mexican woodpecker and a Canadian woodpecker were in Mexico arguing about which country had the toughest trees.
The Mexican woodpecker claimed Mexico had a tree that no woodpecker could peck.

The Canadian woodpecker accepted his challenge and promptly pecked a hole in the tree with no problem.

The Mexican woodpecker was amazed.

The Canadian woodpecker then challenged the Mexican woodpecker to peck a tree in Canada that was absolutely ‘impeccable’ (a term frequently used by woodpeckers).

The Mexican woodpecker expressed confidence that he could do it and accepted the challenge.

The two of them flew to Canada where the Mexican woodpecker successfully pecked
the so-called ‘impeccable’ tree almost without breaking a sweat…

Both woodpeckers were now terribly confused.

How is it that the Canadian woodpecker was able to peck the Mexican tree, and the Mexican woodpecker was able to peck the Canadian tree, yet neither was able to peck the tree in their own country?

After much woodpecker pondering, they both came to the same conclusion:
Apparently, Tiger Woods and Shane Warne were right, when they said,
“your pecker gets harder when you’re away from home”.

This resulted in the following rhyme from yours truly:

Mail Attachment9How much wood, would a woodpecker peck
When a woodpecker pecks a tree?
As much wood as Tiger Woods would
When Tiger Woods drives off from a tee!
And the ball, as happens to many a ball,
Goes whizzing into a tree.
And knocks out a piece as big as yer fist
While Woods, of course is pissed!
So is our woodpecker pecking the tree
For he’s been struck in the head like a tee
And his pecker’s been put out of joint
So he screams at the top of his voice and says
“Yer s’posed to get to the pin ya git!
Don’t you know that that’s the point?”
“I know,” says Woods who’s in a bit of a dither
“But my iron’s not as hard as my pecker.”

Halifax Streets

Standard

From a place called Leeds Street

You can see the ocean

Behind an institute of technology

That spawned engineers and builders

The kind that mauled the hillsides with roads

And marshalled the trees

Into soldierly rows

Gouging out in a mere two centuries

What Nature had husbanded

Soil on rock, soil on soil, layer upon layer

Too thin a soil belt to hold a redwood tree

It bravely sustained pines and hemlock,

Birch, maple, elm and cedar

Too few to people the hills with now

They have become mere street names.