From iPods, to smartphones, to the Kindle, we can see the progression of technology escalating, attracting the eyes of customers for the multiple conveniences it offers. The most obvious convenience is that of transportation. The once chunky cellular gadget has transformed into a slim device that glides quickly into one’s pocket, leaving no trace of its existence until it is taken back out. The bulky cassette players and walkmans that required you to constantly transfer tapes or CD’s have now been replaced with iPods that possess the capability to play thousands of songs on demand. And now, thousands of books fit into singular, miniature tablet. However technology transformations have had more aspects emphasized than just transportability.
In my last post, “Lingerie with Less to Say”, I pointed out our generation’s innate desire to rapidly click through content. We want to experience as many things as we can as quickly as possible. Ours desire challenges manufacturers to create products that satisfy this yearn for speed paired with a magnitude of content. When examining the Kindle features, one may notice that the electronic book is accompanied by buttons along the side of it when, upon clicking, move the user onto the next page.
We have developed an addition to click. The Amazon Kindle press conference held in September 2011 can be watched on You Tube. The footage opens with users expressing their delight with the product. One user states, “when I’m reading a regular book now I find myself, you know, stabbing at the pages assuming that they are going to turn”. We have been conditioned by technology to tap and click. We have been trained by the web to mindlessly click through numerous documents and pictures and news and every other for of content. However, providing a similar feature on a product made to read books strikes me as an area for concern. In my own personal opinion, this advancement, which will replace hard copies of books with just a single screen, could be detrimental to our society. I believe it will slowly deteriorate the ability for us to fully analyze and understand the content of a book that we have already begun to do with content found online.
As I have said, we possess a tendency to unconsciously hover over our fingers over the computer mouse, unexplainably anxious to quickly view the screens content and click onto whatever is next. Because we have become so familiar with this routine, I fear that we unintentionally carry this habit into anything that offers a similar clicking related feature. Think about when you hold a digital camera. You don’t stare at the picture on the screen, analyzing the detail and what may be occurring in it and how everyone in it may be feeling etc etc etc. We thumb through the images, clicking the forward button while rapidly viewing each photo in a matter of seconds. The kindle may be the next victim to receive this unobservant attitude from its users. It’s not our fault, it’s simply what we are have become adapted to doing in this day and age, we hover and we click.
So, why do I say that it will ruin our ability to deeply analyze and understand content? I think the buttons will act as a temptation for readers, internally pressuring them to replicate the clicking motion we are already over-accustomed to from the Internet. We know clicking the forward button will take us to our destination faster, to the end of the book in this case. Therefore, we will leave our finger upon the button, knowing that, in one, swift press, the page will turn and take us closer to the finish line. It lures us to race through content, offering us a speedy solution to what would otherwise be time consuming. Because of this, we will be more enticed to hurriedly read through the text presented on the screen, maybe even end up skimming it, resulting in a lack of fully taking in and appreciating the words of the author. We will be so restless to click that button and move forward that we wont embrace the nostalgic detail story. If you disagree, think about my digital camera example again. We neglect the specific elements of an individual picture because, with the click of a button, we are able to view a vast quantity of them in short period of time. In the same way, we will soon overlook elements of a novel, controlled by our finger coaxing us to tap onward. We can’t help it, and we may not know it, but clicking has become second nature to us.
We have developed a longing to get through tasks quickly, and we know that clicking grants us that ability. Pairing clicking and reading will simply distract us from fully comprehending what we are reading. The capability to click onto the next page will increase the speed of which we are reading due to our instinctive associations between the two. Taking time to interpret and understand text will be long gone.
I do not feel this way because I don’t want technology to change. I love my Droid, I love my Macbook, I love my iPod, I love searching the appstore… so on and so forth. The fear I have resides in the fact that, inadvertently, these technologies have created new unnoticed and unbeneficial habits. They have led us to abandon old tendencies and replace them with ones characterized by mindlessness. More so, it’s the fact that we are not even aware of these newfound tendencies, they have formed within us without our knowledge and now continue to innately impact our actions, thriving within us as if we had acted in such a way all along.