Posted tagged ‘web’


September 2, 2008

There were a few other things I was planning to write about today, but then Google went ahead and made its next move in the quest for global domination by releasing its long rumored browser.

It’s going to take a lot to make a Firefox junkie like yours truly abandon the competition, but the first impressions I got from it are promising.  The showy features (dynamic tabs, a task manager, and the privacy mode) are both impressive and potentially very useful.  I also like the streamlined design quite a bit, although it’s going to take some time to adjust to the location of the pop up blocker messages.  And being who I am, hiring Scott McLeod to create a tutorial comic certainly got my attention.

I’m not entirely set on migrating over from Firefox yet, but Google has managed to place the thought in my mind.  This is a nice package, and once third party developers start working on a few add-ons Chrome could prove a viable threat to both Firefox and IE

The Fate of Reading

July 28, 2008

I’ve been thinking a bit about the current state of literacy in the wake of reading the Times article I posted yesterday, and I’m very troubled.  On one level I’m perfectly fine with the idea of on-line reading skills replacing the previous printed page paradigm for some people.  They are two totally different skill sets and I don’t believe one is necessarily superior to the other, and if the end result is more people reading then that’s great.

But I am worried that what’s going to get lost eventually are our current ideas of narrative and story.  On-line reading is great at promoting critical thinking and research skills, but I find it also tends to distribute a person’s focus in ways that are anathema to the ways one traditional reads.  And maybe this is something harmful in the long run.

One of the ongoing theories to come out of Readercon is the idea that storytelling is something ingrained in the wiring of our brains.  Cold facts cannot convince a person of a new idea nearly as well as a good story can (yes this is the faith vs. science argument).  For another example just try to tell someone about your day by merely listing your itinerary without embellishing it a little.  Those little details change your life into a story, and are the only way to really hold another person’s interest.

We need narrative in our lives, and that is what gets stripped out when we bounce around like we do while web surfing.  And if the theory about stories and how we think is true then maybe this way of reading could prove to be outright harmful.