July 8, 2015
The next book I will read is The Martian: A Novel.
The only reason that I purchased and will read The Martian is a review by Anthony Helm on MediaMixED. In Educational Technology and “The Martian”, Anthony connects his experience reading the novel to his work driving postsecondary learning innovation.
The fact that this review in MediaMixED caused me to immediately purchase the Kindle and accompanying Audible version of the book says some things, at least for me, about how we choose our books.
1. Desperation: For some reason that I can’t understand or explain, I’m desperate to connect with my learning technology colleagues through the books that we all read. Perhaps this is some vestige of a traditional academic path not taken - or maybe even one that no longer exists. At some point in the misty past their was a time when colleagues in the same discipline read the same books. Information was scarce enough that a common set of ideas, and of texts, were shared by the entire community. Academics are the 2nd people of The Book.
When I learn about a book that you are reading, I want to read that book also. Then I want to talk to you about the book that we both read. I want to hear how that book impacted your thinking about the common work that we both do. The book can become a shared part of our mental machinery. Books are much better building blocks than tweets or blogs or webinars. Books have personalities and backstories and heroic journeys. The world that I want to live in is populated by people who spend lots of time reading and discussing books.
2. Trust: We know that we are more likely to read a book that is recommended by someone that we trust. But trust can also work the other way. If I read a great book that you have recommended then my trust in you builds.
Our higher education profession is one built on relationships. The learning technology field that Anthony and I share is a particularly small and close-knit community. Sharing the books that we are reading binds us together. Our books help us understand who we are.
3. Digital: From Anthony’s review in MediaMixED, to having the e-book and audiobook in my pocket (on my iPhone), took a few clicks and a few seconds. This was a frictionless purchase. The path from book discovery to book owning has gotten much easier. This week I will read the Martian with my eyes and with my ears, switching seamlessly back and forth between the formats. I will read while walking to and from back from work. I will read at night in my bed. I will read while folding laundry. I will read as I sit on the comfortable couch in my home that overlooks the backyard.
Our world has changed in how we discover, acquire, and read our books. It is in fashion to worry about the death of print media.Why? In my life I have experienced the shift from the printed to the digital book, and this shift has enabled me to read more and better books.
With total internal inconsistency, I do also worry that a single company so completely controls the technology infrastructure that this new digital book buying and reading experience rests. Vertically integrated monopolies have been historically poor champions of innovation.
What is to be done?
What are you reading?
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