You Can’t Cuddle Up with a Computer »

[an addendum to the Paperless Chronicles] [don't miss Part III posted below]

A simple sentence that communicates precisely why I sometimes feel stuck in the split-personality-netherlands between Techno-Geek and Complete-Luddite. While I push toward a paperless office / school environment, I am the first to admit that you will only see me give up a good made-with-real-paper book when you “pry it from my dead cold hands” (thankyou, Mr. Heston, for that mind-picture).

Like Mr. Bicknell, I appreciate a “real” book. There’s something about holding a book that seems alive. It’s not just the characters that live within the pages, it’s the fact that a real book was once a living thing. Imagine a tree that once stood tall in a forest somewhere but has now changed form into pages that carry the words of Hemingway. Somehow, I like to think the tree didn’t mind changing form and places.

Like Mr. Bicknell, I like the smell and feel of a real book. And I dogear the hound out of my books. I have my puppy-ear-bends…little, barely detectable folds. (I use them to hold my place in the book.) Then I have my giant Rottweiler-ear-bends…where I fold 1/2 the page over. (I use these to mark a page with a really great point or idea I want to reference again later.) I also comment in the margins. I stick Post-It notes in books all the time. About the only thing I NEVER do is bend the spine of a book until it breaks…that always seemed cruel to me. I still cringe when I see people in the airport or at the beach with the cover of their book bent all the way back. My rule is: you need to be able to see both pages…if you are bending the cover to a point where you’re looking at just one page, you’re hurting the book - stop it.

But let’s be honest. The true reason that computers will never replace books is that they are no fun to cuddle up with. You can’t fall asleep with an open laptop across your belly, chest, or face like you can with a paperback. And on those cold, rainy days when you’re sitting back in the recliner reading, you KNOW the shape of a real book fits your hands better than a laptop.

I’ll keep pushing for a paperless office, but this coming Sunday afternoon around 2:00, I guarantee I’ll be asleep with a REAL paper book with a fabric cover and cotton string binding open across my chest instead of a cold, plastic laptop.

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