Mixed Media

I’m consuming media all wrong these days.

I get my television, movies and video from my laptop. I get my music from my phone. I get my books through my car stereo. And I’m playing games on basically everything. I’m pretty sure my SoniCare toothbrush has Angry Birds on it. It’s bizarro world out there these days.

Over the past two weeks I’ve cancelled two services that once seemed absolutely essential. After years with the company, I packed up my DirecTV HD receiver in a cardboard box and said goodbye to satellite television and, by extension, all conventional broadcasts. Even more monumental, I took a similar opportunity to get rid of my phone land line, moving entirely to my cell phone — is “cell phone” even a relevant term anymore? — for communicating with the outside world.

These were hard decisions that were considered in great detail and, I must admit, met with great reticence from my wife. I’m sure for some people the idea of still having a house phone is as anachronistic as having dial-up or a television without HD capabilities, but they are familiar, proven technologies, and who knows what life might be like without them?

Calling to put in the cancellation felt like a Here-There-Be-Dragons kind of moment. Our ship has yet to sail off the edge of the Earth — and I doubt we will — but I still find myself staring back at the receding shore.

The truth is, we’ve barely noticed that the landline and TV signal are gone. The world has turned several times, apparently, since the sun set on their ilk. Thinking on it, I’m not sure I’ve placed a call on my home phone this year, and both Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant were already well established fixtures on the television.

Besides, for the most part the television hasn’t been something I’ve paid much attention to for a couple of years now. Netflix has become a delivery system for my kids to occasionally watch cartoons. Prior to the recent change in Netflix that allowed for multiple profiles, the service was a wasteland to me, because unless I was hankering for a good, solid episode of Bob the Builder, its recommendations to me were not age appropriate.

I have almost completely moved to watching content through my laptop, and usually that isn’t even Netflix. It’s far more likely to be content on Youtube, or streams of gaming tournaments or people playing on Twitch.tv. Where once there existed things like Must See TV and HBO, now there are guitar lessons, let’s play episodes and content from Felicia Day and The Nerdist.

It’s not just that I got rid of my satellite provider. It’s that I had entirely stopped watching the content they offered months ago, if not years ago, and only just now had accepted that the game had permanently changed.

But the shift in my habits doesn’t stop there. No, I’ve also become a listener of audio books. Throughout the first half of the year, the entire Game of Thrones series was my constant companion to and from work. Since then, I’ve been chewing through Audible.com content at a healthy pace. Oh, look at this. David Sedaris reading his own short essays? Yes please.

I do realize that by absorbing books in this way, I’ve inadvertently wandered into a semantic and syntactic debate, where frankly I don’t know where I land. Can I now say that I’ve read the Game of Thrones series, or is the listening experience somehow fundamentally different? One could argue, of course, that the art of storytelling began far earlier with the spoken word than with the written word, but frankly that’s an academic exercise at best and lit.-major snobbery at worst.

However, like the experience of watching video on streaming services, it does change the nature of the experience in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. There is a certain feel that comes from stretching out on the couch and lazily surfing channels on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it’s a feeling that doesn’t really translate to the intentionality of browsing a Youtube catalog. And of course the feeling of listening to a story is meaningfully different from the feeling of getting lost in a book and entering that almost trance-like state of not even seeing the words or the page anymore — just existing in the story as it unfolds in your head. This is not an advisable state to enter when, for example, listening to a book in busy traffic.

The other day I was browsing a local Best Buy and wondering to myself, “Who goes to Best Buy anymore? What am I doing here?!” In this self-critical state I wandered past a refrigerator that had an LCD screen built in where, unbelievably, you could load in and use a variety of apps. I’m speaking here, people, of a refrigerator where you can check Twitter or stream Pandora. I stopped and just gawked at the thing for a full fifteen seconds, imagining what kind of state I would have to be in to simply embrace that my need to check the latest Tweets was so great, so dire, so imperative that I couldn’t lose those precious seconds between the fridge and the phone or computer or Xbox or any of the dozens of devices in my home that allow me constant and interminable access.

Honestly, I don’t actually know if I’m embracing the exponential functionality available and the diversity of experiences I can enjoy, or if I’m grousing about the unnecessary complexity and constant connectivity that has become almost universal. Standing in line at Chipotle the other day, my weakness for chicken burritos having victimized my waistline yet again, I noticed that every person in front of me was glaring down at one device or another. This was a line of ten or so people, and every single one who wasn’t in the process of ordering was either playing a game, checking email, browsing the web or probably tweeting.

Totes gonna get a burrito #hungry #Chipotle.

Now, mind you I had to look up from my own device to notice this event, but the realization somehow horrified me. I could not in good conscience go back to my phablet, and instead tried for a moment to simply take in and experience the surroundings I found myself in. I was instantly bored, and wished I hadn’t been compelled to feel so high and mighty, because I just remembered something I had wanted to check on Reddit.

The long and short is that I’m torn, but I’m also committed. There’s a part of me that misses the old ways of consuming media, and frankly the way you could get away from it. Now I have everything available to me all the time, and as a result I’m both compelled to use it and repulsed by the compulsion. As I lay in bed even now, finishing this article on a cloud-based service where my entire library and catalog of writing are both at my fingertips and entirely virtual, I realize how science-fictiony this would have been to my younger self, excited at owning his first electric typewriter.

My sons will grow up only knowing of the internet, and video, music, media and entertainment as digital content, accessible every-where and every-when. I honestly don’t know if that’s a better or worse way to grow up. My guess is that it’s just a different way to grow up, rather than having an inherent qualitative difference. But for me it’s a weird and occasionally wonderful change, one I’m committed to as I slough off the last remaining vestiges of an analog world, but one that I can’t help being just a little bit suspicious of as well.

Comments

sheared wrote:

I could not do without sports. With the exception of just a couple of shows, it's the only thing I use my cable for.

How about that Colts-Titans game on NFL Network last night? SEC on ESPN. Avalanche on ALT. NBA on TNT. Plus... where I live, over the air means two channels: ABC and PBS. Broncos on Sunday night NBC? I could stream a lot of media, but until I have a viable alternative for live sports, I just could not do it.

TheGameguru wrote:

Sports and Athletes have become that much more valuable in this new world of time and place shifted content. I've argued that athletes aren't paid enough and I think fairly soon we will see the big players jockey strongly to lock up live sports as exclusives.

I stay with my DirecTV solely for the NFL. I am willing to bet that the inability to get NFL games streamed on the internet is the only thing keeping cable and satellite companies from losing hordes of customers. I know I would leave in a second if I had the equivalent to MLB TV for the NFL.

On behalf of those of us who ditched their landline and cable service some time ago (aside from a six month cable stint after moving because it was so cheap), I offer you a hearty welcome. I do miss the access to sporting events at times, but other than that, it's actually not nearly as dire as you'd think. The vast majority of tv is wretched, and the few things (other than live sports) that are worth watching can be had via other means, legally for the most part. When my Seahawks or Huskies are playing a football game I need to see, I either head to the local watering hole or to a buddy's place, which actually works at pretty well since viewing sports is more fun in a social environment anyways. And as far as the landline goes...whattaya want that for anyways, you can't check your twitter/facebook/email on that old corded rotary antique thing! Step into the '90s, man!

We ditched our cable a few years ago as well and we haven't had a landline since the early 2000s. Luckily our house has a functioning antenna and we can get most of the sporting events we want to watch. Also, there's Aereo for watching live broadcast TV if you don't have an antenna, don't have cable but do have Internet.

Have to chime in:
Reading (sighted or braille) inserts nothing between the author and the reader. All images and thoughts and mental pictures and memories are created from the words of the author.
Audio books (which are excellent, I love them) are performances. The performer is translating the words (even if just reading aloud) and introducing his/her own stresses and biases that influence the product. The impact on the reader/listener has to be different.

Of course, I just realized that if the author reads his own words then that adds a completely new wrinkle into my well-thought-out argument that I am not ready to comment on at this time.

drphil wrote:

By what means are you all without phone or cable service getting internet service and how much does it cost per month?

We dropped from the "premium" cable package with Comcast down to the "basic" package, and still have the mid-tier internet package.

When I went to completely drop cable, it netted out to $5 cheaper to keep "any" TV line in addition to the internet line with Comcast. With that being said, we have nothing hooked up to our TV that isn't getting its programming from the internets.

For hard numbers, we pay $66/month for "internet".

Bzzz wrote:

Have to chime in:
Reading (sighted or braille) inserts nothing between the author and the reader. All images and thoughts and mental pictures and memories are created from the words of the author.
Audio books (which are excellent, I love them) are performances. The performer is translating the words (even if just reading aloud) and introducing his/her own stresses and biases that influence the product. The impact on the reader/listener has to be different.

As both an editor and a trained scholar of textual creation, composition and socialization, I think there's a lot more that goes on in the creation of a published text than what you're giving credit to. The words don't spring directly from the author's mind and into the reader's, or even from the author's mind to the page. The process is heavily mediated, and the text is thoroughly edited and revised (and not always intentionally) even after it leaves the author's control.

tboon wrote:
Floomi wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:

"Reading" on Audible doesn't count.

Doesn't that depend on what you're trying to "count"?

Yeah, this - it's purely a matter of semantics. If "reading" is the act of processing textual information with your eyes, then no, audiobooks don't count. (Presumably then, people who consume Braille books are also not readers.) If it's mentally processing the words of a piece of literature, and the sense you use as input doesn't matter, then one can "read" a book via audio.

Or is it interacting with a thing made of paper? In which case do eBooks count?

Or is it about how much attention is required to progress the storyline? If you don't pay attention to a book, the story doesn't "go on" in the background without you. Which I guess rules out skimreading, where you're not paying "enough" attention to what's going on.

I have to admit I am baffled by the assertion.

No, it's not semantics at all. Reading is a learned cognitive skill used to derive meaning from symbols, usually, but not necessarily, printed or otherwise written (and I am sure there will be quibbles about what that means too, oh well). Of course e-books can be read. Of course reading Braille is reading. Skim reading too. I am liberal in my definition of what reading is.

On the other hand, listening to an audiobook is just that: listening. Doesn't mean it is lesser, there is no value judgment in my assertion. My assertion is that listening is not reading.

Does watching a movie also mean one is reading?

"Semantics" (that is, "a semantic argument") is a discussion over a definition. The reason it's important to have a clear definition is because it's otherwise unclear whether the disagreement is over the definition or over the application of that definition. In this instance, the "just semantics" is trying to figure out whether this is about a definition of "reading" or if it's about what it is about reading that has merit or value. My guess is that you're not really interested in arguing what is and isn't "reading," but more about what you think fits the values you tend to associate with the act of reading.

But yeah, there is an expanded definition of "literacy" (and thus of "reading") that includes being able to parse films and understand the "language" of cinematography as a set of symbols that convey meaning. That expanded definition also extends to "digital literacy."

wordsmythe wrote:

...

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/ndyEk8O.png)

The only reason my roommate have TV is because he works for Comcast and he gets enough of a discount to justify it. Otherwise, we were ready to cut live TV out of the equation. My other friend moved in, however, and he tends to use television as a sort of "white noise" while also actively watching whatever car shows and sports stuff he can.

So to someone there's at least some use.

In response to Minarchist and Clockwork:

Sometimes having a cellphone is an advantage in social situations. I've brought up my IMDB app several times when we were trying to figure out information about actors or films, and have frequently done a Google search on the fly to settle a debate (and then either get to stand triumphant in victory or shamefully eat my hat).

But I've seen people sitting there, on their phones, in situations like what Minarchist described. There's no real sense of interaction, and no sense of...well, anything. It's as Minarchist says, where it really seems as if people have no interest in who they are spending time with. However, I've also noted similar pairs of people that are simply silent for the most part, barely talking, and don't have their phones out.

Now, sometimes when spending time with my roommate, we've been in each other's presence so much that we just exhaust all conversation. But we're also comfortable enough with each other we don't give a damn. We've known each other since high school, and there's a statute of limitations on the whole "uncomfortable silence" thing. But at my previous job, I had people I went to lunch with and tried to engage with in conversation that simply wouldn't say many words, and also offered no interest in engagement. This isn't "a person of few words", this is someone, someone that snowboards and such as recreation, that is boring. "Oh, so tell me about your trip!" Shrug. "It was cold."

It wasn't for a dislike of me, either. He was that way with just about everyone.

The point of my digression is that sometimes, people are just f*cking boring, at least in terms of conversation. They may be a great activity partner for things like going to the movies, going bowling, or even snowboarding, but when it comes time to sit down and have a chat, there's absolutely nothing of substance they have to offer.

Whether this is good or bad isn't up to me (though I'd be lying if I said I weren't biased to viewing it as a negative). However, jumping back to how social media comes into play, I think it could actually lend to people being uninteresting, but encouraging them to think that their plain everyday activities are, in fact, awesome.

We make fun of people taking photos of their food on Instagram, but right now on Twitter there are people sharing photos of themselves getting their PS4, having their PS4 strapped into a seat belt, or something else. "I have a PS4!" they exclaim. There's some sense of excitement, and I can understand why it might be fun to announce to select friends that shall care (say, your friends on a forum for gamers that happen to have jobs (or are on economy induced vacation)). However, to announce such trivial things to the world?

What's worse is that corporations encourage this. "Hashtag tweet pic yourself partying with Mountain Dew and we'll retweet!" and so on, and then people do it. Corporate allegiance is no longer as deep as Ford/Chevy confrontations (the Sony/Microsoft before them, and Sega/Nintendo even earlier!), but as simple as "Hey, I like drinking Pepsi and eating McDonalds! Let me whore my consumerism out as free marketing for their benefit!"

But it's like a wolf in sheep's clothing. You don't feel like you're marketing something, you feel as if you're showcasing your life, and aren't you this interesting, wonderful person? Look at me! I'm at a restaurant that serves interesting food! Don't you want to be a part of my life? Don't you wish to share in it?

Granted, assuming this is what anyone is doing at all times on their phone is silly. There's also the Angry Birds and Peggle going on, as I witness quite often during my commute to and from work (and honestly has me pondering just what mental blocks or preferences are preventing those very same hands from holding a 3DS or Vita, spending time in a mechanically deeper and potentially narrative rich game), which has nothing to do with technology driven narcissism or a lack of interest in physical company.

I am afraid, however, that I may have started with a single train of thought, it has proceeded to fly off the rails and crashed into jet planes, jabberwockies and oversized SUV's of thought. So I'm just going to stop here lest my comment become even larger.

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m0y7ecNlSo1qgx4b2o2_500.gif)

wordsmythe wrote:

IMAGE(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m0y7ecNlSo1qgx4b2o2_500.gif)

Yes, I feel like that lady all the damn time.

I'd say welcome to the club, but to my shame I'm not really a member anymore. We haven't had a land line in years, and for the last two years we only had internet service through Time Warner. I have the living room, office and two bedrooms wired with cat 5, and through a combination of xbox, PS3 and Roku boxes, all TVs had Netflix and Amazon IW. We got local broadcasts & DVR on the living room TV also, via Windows Media Center on the xbox, networked to a laptop/HD antenna/tuner. It worked great & was super cheap.

Then came sweet, sweet Google Fiber. Since then, I've recorded 8 shows at once, not because I'll ever watch any of them but just because I can. Netflix SuperHD (Fiber TV app) is awesome. But while my wife does enjoy watching Bravo shows as they air, and I like the fact that the TV boxes are also wifi repeaters, in general I'm not sold on it. The programming is 99% crap, just like with any bundled cable TV package. We'll probably drop the TV portion & go back to internet/OTA only.

Totally with you on the audiobooks. I commute 2 hours/day, and I've listened to a ton of books over the years. I still remember having to pull over after hearing Roy Dotrice's performance of the Red Wedding (I listened to that book before reading it).

tboon wrote:

Yes, I feel like that lady all the damn time.

I just came across it on the internet, and I felt that it had to be shared.

MisterStatic wrote:
sheared wrote:

I could not do without sports. With the exception of just a couple of shows, it's the only thing I use my cable for.

How about that Colts-Titans game on NFL Network last night? SEC on ESPN. Avalanche on ALT. NBA on TNT. Plus... where I live, over the air means two channels: ABC and PBS. Broncos on Sunday night NBC? I could stream a lot of media, but until I have a viable alternative for live sports, I just could not do it.

TheGameguru wrote:

Sports and Athletes have become that much more valuable in this new world of time and place shifted content. I've argued that athletes aren't paid enough and I think fairly soon we will see the big players jockey strongly to lock up live sports as exclusives.

I stay with my DirecTV solely for the NFL. I am willing to bet that the inability to get NFL games streamed on the internet is the only thing keeping cable and satellite companies from losing hordes of customers. I know I would leave in a second if I had the equivalent to MLB TV for the NFL.

Their are other options for watching sporting events. They are frowned up, but the cost of cable doesn't justify having it just for sports, for me. I only watch NFL, and I only care about the 49ers. Since I live in Atlanta, I would have to purchase the Sunday Ticket package, and that is definitely not worth it. DirectTV should wise up and let me buy access to all of one teams games, and let me stream them.

I'm pretty sure, "It costs too much," has never been an acceptable excuse to steal what one wants.

Because I can't afford Sunday Ticket, I patronize a local sports bar that shows all of the games in order to watch the Chiefs.

Jayhawker wrote:

I'm pretty sure, "It costs too much," has never been an acceptable excuse to steal what one wants.

Because I can't afford Sunday Ticket, I patronize a local sports bar that shows all of the games in order to watch the Chiefs.

I have thought of that as an option but I am betting I would spend more at the Sports Bar over the course of the season...but then again I am feeding and drinking. 1st world problems.

Its not bad for football. But it can be really inconvenient for the NHL, MLB, and college basketball.

I went two years without cable, and it wasn't bad. Sports is the killer, but otherwise we were good. My wife was more resistant to going back than she was to dropping it. But DirecTV had a nice offer that was worth going back. The deal is up in July, so we may cut the cord again.

We'll see.

Twitter -- or something like it should be what the cable companies and satellite companies embrace to the nth degree. I know networks put the little hash-tag up on the screen during shows, but they should be working with TV manufacturers to get twitter integrated into the sets in the very best possible way. As Guru said, with sports being such a communal event best experienced live, the only real way I see "live" tv outside of sports staying relevant is if they can make it more of a communal experience.

Jayhawker wrote:

I'm pretty sure, "It costs too much," has never been an acceptable excuse to steal what one wants.

Because I can't afford Sunday Ticket, I patronize a local sports bar that shows all of the games in order to watch the Chiefs.

I have two choices. Stream them however I can, or pay DirectTV $60 a month, plus w/e the cost of Sunday Ticket is. If I had an option that was reasonable, I would give them my monies. Until they find a model that is not archaic, I'm not.

If my third option is to hang around a bunch of sports bar people, I'll stop watching.

Hooked an old PC to our TV 18 months ago, used a wireless Logitech mouse and KB for the remotes, and told the cable TV company we were saying "adios". Total monthly entertainment bill went from $169.00 a month to $28. (19.99 for 35MB cable and $7.99 for Netflix.)

Have never missed it...

Started doing audiobooks in the car back in... 2003?

Life is better when you decide WHAT you want to consume, and where and when.

EverythingsTentative wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

I'm pretty sure, "It costs too much," has never been an acceptable excuse to steal what one wants.

Because I can't afford Sunday Ticket, I patronize a local sports bar that shows all of the games in order to watch the Chiefs.

I have two choices. Stream them however I can, or pay DirectTV $60 a month, plus w/e the cost of Sunday Ticket is. If I had an option that was reasonable, I would give them my monies. Until they find a model that is not archaic, I'm not.

If my third option is to hang around a bunch of sports bar people, I'll stop watching.

This past year, I did seriously consider getting the MLB streaming package. Which is great, as long as you don't live in the home market of your favorite team, because then you're subject to blackout restrictions. Once I started factoring in the price for a proxy service to "move" my IP-based location to get in-market games, I said "yeah, I don't really need this".

wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:
Floomi wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:

"Reading" on Audible doesn't count.

Doesn't that depend on what you're trying to "count"?

Yeah, this - it's purely a matter of semantics. If "reading" is the act of processing textual information with your eyes, then no, audiobooks don't count. (Presumably then, people who consume Braille books are also not readers.) If it's mentally processing the words of a piece of literature, and the sense you use as input doesn't matter, then one can "read" a book via audio.

Or is it interacting with a thing made of paper? In which case do eBooks count?

Or is it about how much attention is required to progress the storyline? If you don't pay attention to a book, the story doesn't "go on" in the background without you. Which I guess rules out skimreading, where you're not paying "enough" attention to what's going on.

I have to admit I am baffled by the assertion.

No, it's not semantics at all. Reading is a learned cognitive skill used to derive meaning from symbols, usually, but not necessarily, printed or otherwise written (and I am sure there will be quibbles about what that means too, oh well). Of course e-books can be read. Of course reading Braille is reading. Skim reading too. I am liberal in my definition of what reading is.

On the other hand, listening to an audiobook is just that: listening. Doesn't mean it is lesser, there is no value judgment in my assertion. My assertion is that listening is not reading.

Does watching a movie also mean one is reading?

"Semantics" (that is, "a semantic argument") is a discussion over a definition. The reason it's important to have a clear definition is because it's otherwise unclear whether the disagreement is over the definition or over the application of that definition. In this instance, the "just semantics" is trying to figure out whether this is about a definition of "reading" or if it's about what it is about reading that has merit or value. My guess is that you're not really interested in arguing what is and isn't "reading," but more about what you think fits the values you tend to associate with the act of reading.

But yeah, there is an expanded definition of "literacy" (and thus of "reading") that includes being able to parse films and understand the "language" of cinematography as a set of symbols that convey meaning. That expanded definition also extends to "digital literacy."

Having agreed with tboon throughout this thread, no, I'm definitely talking about the meaning of "reading" and I think he is too; listening is different. Is there a neuroscientist in the house? I can definitely feel a difference in how I read vs how I hear. Anyone ever try to solve a problem on paper and have the answer spring to you as soon as you formulate the sentence required to ask for help from someone else? It's like the problem just enters through a whole different pathway into the cognitive area, and for part of the journey at least, it is a physically different pathway. Also, there is the matter of the placement and intensity of attention during the time of input.

The theory of multiple intelligences posits that there are 8 spheres of intelligence differentiated into different modalities. There are criticisms of the theory, but it's an interesting model to think about when describing modes of learning or experience.

It is important to note that the theory appears not to be scientific - it's a mental model meant to be viewed in a way that is different from a scientific theory.

I think we need to separate the stigma and action of reading from its purpose. I understand why it is preferred, but in a lot of ways, it is not always helpful.

For example, in school, there are a lot of teachers and parents that are happy that anything "gets kids to read". The problem is, will children continue to read? This was our issue with Harry Potter. Yes, they're reading this series of books, but will it urge them forward to read more challenging material?

I suppose what more challenging material is would be subjective. Would the Hunger Games series be more challenging as it involves things like politics and...um...kids killing each other? (I haven't read the books or seen the movie yet, so all I know is second-hand knowledge) More so, are the books actually better written? While I find J. K. Rowling to be an excellent story-teller, after reading a variety of books like Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, the Deathgate Cycle and Starship Troopers, I found her writing to be rather poor.

Now consider how much "reading" gets done on the Internet, through texts, all unfiltered, unedited, communicating using horrific prose, syntax, and improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. The more that stuff is being read, the more it is communicated not only as normal, but how it should be.

I'd say the value isn't necessarily in the act of reading, but what you read. In that case, what is the purpose of what you are reading? In the case of Game of Thrones, it is to tell a story. And while you may not be drawing meaning out of words on a page, you're certainly imagining and visualizing characters and events as they are spoken to you.

Similarly, if I read an in-depth game analysis and watch a YouTube video on the same game with similar ideas, they're both informing me and driving me to think more about that game.

Never underestimate how much the brain is doing while partaking in various forms of media. While I wouldn't say reading is unnecessary (far from it, it is an absolute necessity), I think we put too much weight on the action of "reading books" as a thing smart and educated people do and should do. Sometimes I don't want to read. Sometimes, quite frankly, more academic writings bore the Hell out of me. Even reading a D&D book feels like studying to me.

But I still try to challenge myself when I can. But if I'm reading for leisure, then I don't think those that would prefer an audio book are really losing anything from the experience except their own interpretation of events. In which case, it is 100% subjective. After all, you could be reading it wrong, or hearing Wil Wheaton or, *sigh* Graham Rowat *swoon*, read a book could be better than your own in-head narration.

I don't have an in-head narration when I'm "into" a book. When I'm in the groove with reading a book, the paper and the words disappear. My mind conjures images and scenes just as I read them off the page. It's quite cinematic. I don't get this same experience listening to an audio book, which is why I haven't really jumped on that.

For what it's worth, I prefer to read an honest-to-goodness paper book over any other form of reading.
I do want to mention, however, that I have completely tuned out the narrator while listening to a book and had the very same sensation of experiencing the story without a filter, inside my own head.
I wonder if there's something to be said for how easily an individual is able to fantasize. I can fantasize pretty hard

RolandofGilead wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:
Floomi wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:

"Reading" on Audible doesn't count.

Doesn't that depend on what you're trying to "count"?

Yeah, this - it's purely a matter of semantics. If "reading" is the act of processing textual information with your eyes, then no, audiobooks don't count. (Presumably then, people who consume Braille books are also not readers.) If it's mentally processing the words of a piece of literature, and the sense you use as input doesn't matter, then one can "read" a book via audio.

Or is it interacting with a thing made of paper? In which case do eBooks count?

Or is it about how much attention is required to progress the storyline? If you don't pay attention to a book, the story doesn't "go on" in the background without you. Which I guess rules out skimreading, where you're not paying "enough" attention to what's going on.

I have to admit I am baffled by the assertion.

No, it's not semantics at all. Reading is a learned cognitive skill used to derive meaning from symbols, usually, but not necessarily, printed or otherwise written (and I am sure there will be quibbles about what that means too, oh well). Of course e-books can be read. Of course reading Braille is reading. Skim reading too. I am liberal in my definition of what reading is.

On the other hand, listening to an audiobook is just that: listening. Doesn't mean it is lesser, there is no value judgment in my assertion. My assertion is that listening is not reading.

Does watching a movie also mean one is reading?

"Semantics" (that is, "a semantic argument") is a discussion over a definition. The reason it's important to have a clear definition is because it's otherwise unclear whether the disagreement is over the definition or over the application of that definition. In this instance, the "just semantics" is trying to figure out whether this is about a definition of "reading" or if it's about what it is about reading that has merit or value. My guess is that you're not really interested in arguing what is and isn't "reading," but more about what you think fits the values you tend to associate with the act of reading.

But yeah, there is an expanded definition of "literacy" (and thus of "reading") that includes being able to parse films and understand the "language" of cinematography as a set of symbols that convey meaning. That expanded definition also extends to "digital literacy."

Having agreed with tboon throughout this thread, no, I'm definitely talking about the meaning of "reading" and I think he is too; listening is different. Is there a neuroscientist in the house? I can definitely feel a difference in how I read vs how I hear. Anyone ever try to solve a problem on paper and have the answer spring to you as soon as you formulate the sentence required to ask for help from someone else? It's like the problem just enters through a whole different pathway into the cognitive area, and for part of the journey at least, it is a physically different pathway. Also, there is the matter of the placement and intensity of attention during the time of input.

I agree that there can be a difference between the pathways of processing information. But then how is reading braille still "reading" by the more limited definition?

I think this is still about a value that we give to "reading," however we define it. As Cesarano said, there's definitely a difference in value depending on what content is being read. The act of interpreting printed letters into words is not the sole source of the value we're talking about when we say that something does or doesn't "count" as reading.

Minarchist wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

And now how do people handle phone calls during conversations? It seems like most of the time, people check the caller ID and then silence their phone or apologize for having to answer it.

Right, which is why I started that paragraph with "Maybe the issue here is that the technology is still new enough that etiquette hasn't been codified." and then went on to use that as an example.

I get the feeling texting and the like will find a way to normalize as people sort out what's appropriate and what isn't, most likely by resolving to not do the stuff that pisses them off when other people do it.

I hope so, but this time I am not so sure. There are so many tiny little dopamine hits on a modern phone (liked on facebook! RT'd! Reposted my Pin!) that it seems a lot more seductive than past distractions. Purely anecdotally, at least, as I have a few friends who have gotten worse and worse with their phones over time, despite repeated pleadings, warnings, beatings, and even having their phones taken away. (Again, that guy.)

My brother tries to be "that guy" too, but interestingly enough he's the worst offender in our family when it comes to getting distracted by our phones.

ccesarano wrote:

But I've seen people sitting there, on their phones, in situations like what Minarchist described. There's no real sense of interaction, and no sense of...well, anything. It's as Minarchist says, where it really seems as if people have no interest in who they are spending time with. However, I've also noted similar pairs of people that are simply silent for the most part, barely talking, and don't have their phones out.

Now, sometimes when spending time with my roommate, we've been in each other's presence so much that we just exhaust all conversation. But we're also comfortable enough with each other we don't give a damn. We've known each other since high school, and there's a statute of limitations on the whole "uncomfortable silence" thing. But at my previous job, I had people I went to lunch with and tried to engage with in conversation that simply wouldn't say many words, and also offered no interest in engagement. This isn't "a person of few words", this is someone, someone that snowboards and such as recreation, that is boring. "Oh, so tell me about your trip!" Shrug. "It was cold."

It wasn't for a dislike of me, either. He was that way with just about everyone.

The point of my digression is that sometimes, people are just f*cking boring, at least in terms of conversation. They may be a great activity partner for things like going to the movies, going bowling, or even snowboarding, but when it comes time to sit down and have a chat, there's absolutely nothing of substance they have to offer.

If I had to guess, I'd say he was just an introvert, not necessarily boring. I know I've given responses like he did about his vacation, usually because I wanted to go back to the "awkward" silence I was enjoying. It's usually given to co-workers too, especially if I felt they were trying to pry further into my personal life than I wanted them. If I'm in the mood for it (which is going to depend quite a bit on how good my relationship is with the person) and know that the other person is genuinely interested in the subject and not just trying to make small talk, I can talk their ear off (and have).

Corporate allegiance is no longer as deep as Ford/Chevy confrontations (the Sony/Microsoft before them, and Sega/Nintendo even earlier!),

The GM/Ford war has been going on for much longer than any version of the console wars have.

wordsmythe wrote:
RolandofGilead wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:
Floomi wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
tboon wrote:

"Reading" on Audible doesn't count.

Doesn't that depend on what you're trying to "count"?

Yeah, this - it's purely a matter of semantics. If "reading" is the act of processing textual information with your eyes, then no, audiobooks don't count. (Presumably then, people who consume Braille books are also not readers.) If it's mentally processing the words of a piece of literature, and the sense you use as input doesn't matter, then one can "read" a book via audio.

Or is it interacting with a thing made of paper? In which case do eBooks count?

Or is it about how much attention is required to progress the storyline? If you don't pay attention to a book, the story doesn't "go on" in the background without you. Which I guess rules out skimreading, where you're not paying "enough" attention to what's going on.

I have to admit I am baffled by the assertion.

No, it's not semantics at all. Reading is a learned cognitive skill used to derive meaning from symbols, usually, but not necessarily, printed or otherwise written (and I am sure there will be quibbles about what that means too, oh well). Of course e-books can be read. Of course reading Braille is reading. Skim reading too. I am liberal in my definition of what reading is.

On the other hand, listening to an audiobook is just that: listening. Doesn't mean it is lesser, there is no value judgment in my assertion. My assertion is that listening is not reading.

Does watching a movie also mean one is reading?

"Semantics" (that is, "a semantic argument") is a discussion over a definition. The reason it's important to have a clear definition is because it's otherwise unclear whether the disagreement is over the definition or over the application of that definition. In this instance, the "just semantics" is trying to figure out whether this is about a definition of "reading" or if it's about what it is about reading that has merit or value. My guess is that you're not really interested in arguing what is and isn't "reading," but more about what you think fits the values you tend to associate with the act of reading.

But yeah, there is an expanded definition of "literacy" (and thus of "reading") that includes being able to parse films and understand the "language" of cinematography as a set of symbols that convey meaning. That expanded definition also extends to "digital literacy."

Having agreed with tboon throughout this thread, no, I'm definitely talking about the meaning of "reading" and I think he is too; listening is different. Is there a neuroscientist in the house? I can definitely feel a difference in how I read vs how I hear. Anyone ever try to solve a problem on paper and have the answer spring to you as soon as you formulate the sentence required to ask for help from someone else? It's like the problem just enters through a whole different pathway into the cognitive area, and for part of the journey at least, it is a physically different pathway. Also, there is the matter of the placement and intensity of attention during the time of input.

I agree that there can be a difference between the pathways of processing information. But then how is reading braille still "reading" by the more limited definition?

I think this is still about a value that we give to "reading," however we define it. As Cesarano said, there's definitely a difference in value depending on what content is being read. The act of interpreting printed letters into words is not the sole source of the value we're talking about when we say that something does or doesn't "count" as reading.

IMAGE(http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d133/Salvaje1/WP_20131116_001_zps9b49a062.jpg)

HOW CAN YOU EVEN BE READING THIS

wordsmythe wrote:

I agree that there can be a difference between the pathways of processing information. But then how is reading braille still "reading" by the more limited definition?

Good point, and not being able to read braille, I can't provide a definitive answer, yet the neurological difference isn't merely in the physical pathway.
My own view only, and perhaps being a wordsmith, you'll appreciate the subtlety in the differences I'm about to describe:
one extracts symbols from a movie,
one connects symbols from audio,
one transforms symbols from a book, whether printed flat or raised.