Paper and Glass

Let's Talk about Tech“I don’t do the Internet! I read.” Yes, it’s true. A real person really did say that. To her, reading means books. Newspapers. Magazines. You know, words on paper. I said nothing at the time. But I thought about it.

Modern-day reading is still paper. My daughter is growing up with bookshelves overflowing with her own books. She knows how to find the movie section in the local newspaper, and scan the descriptions for the G and PG films. She looks forward to the next issues of Spider, Your Big Backyard, and Nick Magazine.

But modern-day reading is more than paper. Reading for my daughter is also glass. A small glass on her Nintendo DS, where voices speak nonsense words, so she has to read the cartoon balloons to find out her next quest. And that Nintendo game has tough parts, so she also reads a paperback “strategy guide” to get herself through.

Reading is also a medium-sized glass on her computer monitor, where Word Girl, a favorite pint-sized superhero, vanquishes villains with her superior vocabulary. And a big glass television screen, where winning the Wii game requires reading and spacial akills.

So far, reading doesn’t include the Kindle at our house. It’d be great for taking lots of reading material on vacation. But it’s one more thing with a battery. And I wouldn’t want to drop it on the sand by a hammock or the concrete by the pool deck. No, I’ll stick with paper for some things. Or I’m stuck with it, depending on your point of view.

But I’ve digressed.

The point is not that the speaker perceived the Internet and reading to be mutually exclusive. Reading is just a technology. Made of paper or made of glass, reading and writing are just tools for sharing ideas and bringing people together.

The point is that she didn’t know what was being written on the Internet. She wasn’t being told what was happening to solve a problem that she cares deeply about solving. And that, dear reader, cannot stand. Today’s written communication must be glass AND paper. AND. Not OR.

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