Sorry I haven’t written in a while, I got carried away with my research. You would not believe how deep this discussion about print versus digital reading technology goes. From historical viewpoints to scientific evidence, there is so much to think about. On the one hand, we can see an appreciation for the book in its physical form. However, reading about the history of the book, or codex, and its reception over time leads me to reconsider the e-reader. For example, the physical form of the digital text, and how it too could be appreciated by readers of the digital era. I think digital resources also could be considered inferior to print for reasons related to design or easily changeable features. Even though I love print books, I think we aren’t advocating fairly for the digital. After all, new generations are constantly coming of age and changing society. It could be highly possible that, one day, a person would look upon an e-reader with an appreciative eye and reflect fondly upon the sensational experience. –Clarisse McClellan
Author: Clarisse McClellan
What is keeping print alive?
So I’ve been digging through sources lately in my attempt to prove to everyone that print is better than digital text! I mean it has to be, right? There has to be a reason why it has lasted so long. But after reading one scientific study after another, I realized that personal opinion is the LARGEST factor in determining whether ebooks or print texts are more effective. Ok, so trying not to panic, its just that EVERYTHING I ever considered sacred is now being questioned. So then, if there isn’t that much of an impact or difference, especially in the ways that technology is beginning to imitate print, then what is keeping print alive? -Clarisse McClellan
The essence of a book
Today I decided to crack open a good old fashioned book. Not an e-book, not a PDF, but a tightly bound collection of pages rich with the scent of ink and age. The satisfaction of flipping the pages, seeing the visual progress between the covers as pages shift from right to left, cannot be imitated in a digital copy. There are so many features of physical books that cannot be captured in any other format, including large images, the feel of the book, and pop-outs among other features. So many people are stuck on the latest and greatest, including how we can improve upon current technology. However, I aim over the next few weeks to show my peers and community members the value of the vintage and how to appreciate what already exists without constant efforts to revise and replace. Technology should be able to coexist without the constant threat of obsolescence.–Clarisse McClellan
The Brain Behind the Machine
So I know I was skeptical about the whole “computers being authors” thing right? Well after that patron’s request I decided to do a little bit of research on my own and found out there is a computer-generated literature exposition called NaNoGenMo where writers and programmers alike manipulate existing or new texts via computer programs and share them with the world on an online forum. This means a human mind is behind the program, word possibilities, etc. So the computer is not solely in charge of the text produced, rather the choices of what goes inside of each variable spot. I found out how to access the “source code”, or the message you write to the computer that tells it what to do, and have even been manipulating a few texts of my own, hoping to create something fun and exciting. Maybe computers aren’t so bad, as long as a human mind is in control. –Clarisse McClellan
Computer as an author?!
While working at the library in the afterlife, I have many people come in through the doors and request great works, like Shakespeare or Dickens. But today in particular I had a rather strange request. A gentleman came in today and requested a digital copy of the work “Pride, Prejudice”. I responded, oh yes, we have a few copies of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, not a problem! He responded to this with “oh no, not that one. I want the version that was made online using a computer program that edited out over half of the words. It looks like an interesting work. Computers are going to be the latest and greatest authors!”
Excuse me?! How could computers be able to capture the emotions, the experiences of life that only sentient beings can comprehend? I just don’t see how they could ever have anything interesting to say. However, it’s not like me to be close-minded. This will be difficult, but I think I’m going to check this out for myself, read over a few examples, and see what computer-generated literature has to offer. Who knows, I may like it. –Clarisse McClellan
Physical and Virtual Memories
This week in town has been crazy! Ever since the arrival of famous scientist Stephen Hawking, folks have been running around, making preparations and setting up a new apartment space for him. While I do look forward to chatting with him sometime about his work, I have decided to hold off and let the waves of people pass before approaching Mr. Hawking. In the mean time, I have to report to my job at the library, organizing and archiving the lost pictures, memories, and books that appear. The way it works is that any memories or items that are lost, destroyed or forgotten appear in our facility, and then it is my job to sort through it and archive it in the proper collection.
Today in particular, I reflected a lot about my job and the items we receive. In my hand I hold a few unlabeled CDs, family photos with dates inscribed on the back, and a floppy disk with the words “John and Diana 1994” written on the label. In the past, we received a lot of books and photos, but recently we have received more of these “floppies” and “compact disks” as I heard they were called. Recently we received a few computers that allowed us to access the content on these drives, and the resulting content varies. Some are games, others written documents and family photos. I still receive the satisfaction of seeing their faces and the joy they shared in their lifetime, but there is something off to me about looking at memories on a computer screen.
When you hold a photo, as I am doing now, and you see the creases of years handling and sharing a memory, a mother kissing her laughing baby, with the words “Baby Lily and Kate 1957” inscribed on the back, ridges in the photo paper from the pressure of a pen, you feel a connection with the picture. Holding a tangible item that others once did means more to me than seeing an image on a screen. But that’s just me. I know others don’t care as much about these sentimental things, but I guess that’s why I have this job. For now, I will be grateful for the tangible relics we do receive on occasion, and record my narratives in a journal that I can reread later. –Clarisse McClellan
Nature is Brilliant
After spending so much time and effort pursuing Mr. Zampanó, I decided to take a break from my sleuthing. I have an eternity to have adventures, so a little downtime shouldn’t hurt. I get up early in the morning, pack a lunch, and go for a long walk. I stroll slowly down the sidewalk, sprigs of grass pushing their way up through cracks in the concrete. Small trees line my path down the street as I head away from downtown, away from the hustle of the city. Remember, this is the afterlife, so I pretty much have my pick of lovely destinations to visit. Over time, the sidewalk fades and I find myself strolling through a serene forest. The sunshine reaches through the branches and leaves, scattering light and seemingly suspending time. A cardinal and a mockingbird compete for center stage as they both whistle for their lives, and a tender fawn nibbles on the leaves of a crate myrtle. This must have been how Guy Montag felt, the first time he made it out of town. Peace and reality altering silence.
After a while of strolling through the forest, I finally made it to the clearing, the sound of roaring water overbearing the birdsongs behind me. It was there I set up my picnic lunch: pb&j, an apple, and a big sugar cookie. Why do we lock ourselves in concrete cells and hold ourselves hostage in manmade dungeons? Nature is brilliant. –Clarisse McClellan
So after about a week of patiently waiting, passing by his apartment door and cats still lurking around the courtyard, I notice the note I left on the door vanished. For around a day there was nothing there. The next morning, as I walked past Zampanó’s house, I noticed another note, looking disheveled, posted hastily on the door. I trotted over and was met with a composite of a post card, old receipt and library card all taped together. The message was in a spiral around a blue square he drew in the middle. The note read as follows.
“Dear Ms. McClellan,
I received your message, although I must decline your offer. Everything in this world is not quite as it seems^1.
- I Acquired My kNack Of Transparency Recently, Especially After Losing my mind.”
I noticed that his door was cracked open, and I pushed it slightly, only to reveal emptiness with scattered papers covering every square inch of floor. About that time a cat slipped past me, I took one final look, and shut the door. Maybe he’s right. One thing is for sure, whoever he is certainly doesn’t want to be found.
A note for now
So I decided today would be the day I tried my gentle and easy approach on Mr. Zampanó. Since he used to be a writer, I figured writing him a note would be the most appealing method of contact. My letter reads as follows
“Dear Mr. Zampanó, my name is Clarisse McClellan, I was 17 years old when I passed away and choose to spend my afterlife hearing the stories of others who lived colorful, adventurous lives. Where I came from, we weren’t allowed to have books, so we always told oral stories to entertain ourselves. My uncle told the best stories of all. His secret? He has a brilliant mind and committed his favorite books to memory. Anyways, I heard you were a writer once, and since you found the inspiration to put pen to paper you must have had an interesting topic to write about. If at all possible, I was wondering if we could meet up sometime in the near future and talk about your work? The courtyard works fine as a meeting place for me. Sincerely, Clarisse McClellan.”
-I stuck the note on the door using a single piece of scotch tape, took a step back to admire my work, and went on my way towards the diner for breakfast. Now all we do is wait… -Clarisse McClellan
Easy does it
Last evening right before dusk I made my first attempt at approaching Mr. Zampanó, who was still pensively pacing around the courtyard, mumbling in hushed tones. I tried to be direct, calling out his name and waving, but I was met with a less than pleasant response. He appeared startled, glaring at me with distrust and quickly scurrying back into his apartment before I made my way over. He slammed the door behind him. Must be a little shy. Today, I watched him from far away, trying to decide the best approach to engaging Mr. Zampanó in a discussion. While watching him this morning, I noticed some neighborhood cats began appearing from every direction, coming towards the mysterious man and rubbing his legs. He softly smiled at the felines, patting them gently in response. My uncle used to say that animals were a better judge of character than people, so there must be more to his story. I think the cats are my clue: my approach needs to be subtle and gentle. I need to show him I mean no harm. –Clarisse McClellan