For Your Consideration – 8

(Although I assume that this sort of thing goes without saying these days, I thought I should nonetheless throw out the typical reminder that linking below does not necessarily imply wholesale endorsement.)

“Loss and Gain, or the Fate of the Book”:

“Whether the book survives or not, I am firmly of the opinion that itought to survive, and nothing will convince me otherwise. The heart has its beliefs that evidence knows not of. For me, to browse in a bookshop, especially a second-hand one, will forever be superior to browsing on the internet precisely because chance plays a much larger part in it. There are few greater delights than entirely by chance to come across something not only fascinating in itself, but that establishes a quite unexpected connection with something else. The imagination is stimulated in a way that the more logical connections of the Internet cannot match; the Internet will make people literal-minded …

To refuse to use the new technology in the hope of preserving old pleasures will not work because to do so would be no more authentic or honest than Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess. The regret is genuine; the refusal is not.”

“Out of Touch: E-reading isn’t reading”:

“New research continues to emphasize the importance of mind wandering for learning. It turns out that not paying attention is one of the best ways of discovering new ideas. Reading books, whether silently or aloud, remains one of the most efficient means of enabling such errant thinking. As our bodies rest, our minds begin to work in a different way. New connections, new pathways, and sharp turns are being made as we meander our way through the book, but also away from it. There is no way to tell if anyone is actually paying attention anymore as I read, including myself. This seems to be one of the great benefits of reading aloud, that you can think of something else while you do it. We may be holding the book together, but our minds are no doubt far apart by now. The fairy tale is the first story of childhood because it tells of such leaving behind (parents and home), of entering the dreamscape of the woods—and the mind. It tells of the crooked path of change. How can one know where reading books ends and dreaming in books begins?”

“Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore”:

“This summer, hackers destroyed my entire digital life in the span of an hour. My Apple, Twitter, and Gmail passwords were all robust—seven, 10, and 19 characters, respectively, all alphanumeric, some with symbols thrown in as well—but the three accounts were linked, so once the hackers had conned their way into one, they had them all. They really just wanted my Twitter handle: @mat. As a three-letter username, it’s considered prestigious. And to delay me from getting it back, they used my Apple account to wipe every one of my devices, my iPhone and iPad and MacBook, deleting all my messages and documents and every picture I’d ever taken of my 18-month-old daughter. Since that awful day, I’ve devoted myself to researching the world of online security. And what I have found is utterly terrifying.”

“Google Now: behind the predictive future of search”:

“In a single app, the company has combined its latest technologies: voice search that understands speech like a human brain, knowledge of real-world entities, a (somewhat creepy) understanding of who and where you are, and most of all its expertise at ranking information. Google has taken all of that and turned it into an interesting and sometimes useful feature, but if you look closely you can see that it’s more than just a feature, it’s a beta test for the future.”

“Gamer’s Paradise: Worshipping At The iOS Altar”:

“Game designer and academic Ian Bogost says the iPhone is a bit like a rosary. I have this way of refreshing my Twitter feed even when it doesn’t need reading, thumbing the touchscreen with a tactile pull-and-release, a sort of nervous lozenging that makes a popping noise when I let go.”

“How to Live Without Irony”:

“The ironic life is certainly a provisional answer to the problems of too much comfort, too much history and too many choices, but it is my firm conviction that this mode of living is not viable and conceals within it many social and political risks.”

“The Science and Art of Listening”:

“Hearing, in short, is easy. You and every other vertebrate that hasn’t suffered some genetic, developmental or environmental accident have been doing it for hundreds of millions of years. It’s your life line, your alarm system, your way to escape danger and pass on your genes. But listening, really listening, is hard when potential distractions are leaping into your ears every fifty-thousandth of a second — and pathways in your brain are just waiting to interrupt your focus to warn you of any potential dangers.

Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.”

“Axe worship”:

“Personally, I just like chopping for its own sake. There’s something warming about the ritual of it and the sense of provision. Place, stand, breathe, swing, cut. Watching the wood. Watching the radial splits out from the centre, marking the place to bring the axe down, waiting for the faint exhalation of scent from the wood as it falls. Like cooking, it provides a sense of sufficiency and delight but, unlike cooking, log-chopping has a particular rhythm to it, like a form of active meditation. You do, very literally, get into the swing of it.”

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