Kindle My Faith (Book Pitch 2.0)

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/02/06

I’m not working as of yesterday and I have a Kindle on backorder — which is kinda funny when you think about it.

I’d been debating ordering one for a year or so. Would I really use it?

My friend Randy Stewart said he didn’t like his and got rid of it — recommending I wait until v2.

My pal Lee LeFever kept raving about his.

Then a month ago I was in a training session that really kicked my ass about writing. Not tweets. Not blog posts. But articles and books and presentations.

It was a huge wakeup call.

And when I thought about what it takes for me to write fluidly and well — I came back to a writing hack Scott Berkun and I have talked about a lot — you need to read to write — and not just surface read, but deep read.

Which is a conclusion that kinda sucks for me, big time — because I don’t deep read anymore.

Twitter and TechMeme have ruined me.

They’ve rewired my synapses so that I scan >> scan >> scan for nuggets (and pass them along so that the important news can find its way), but then I never take the time to go deeper than that.

And for all of the fruits of these new patterns of information consumption — I really do feel guilty for not picking up a printed book and reading — it leaves me feeling like I am less of a person — the poser who snuck into an American Lit Class and is hoping that none of the liberal arts majors find him out.

But life’s taught me to really examine any guilt/shame feeling I have — even when it seems to be a very minor thing like this.

Whenever I get the guilts, I know I am supposed to dig deeper and ask — what’s at the root of making me feel this way?

That’s when I realized something that made me order the Kindle — which is going to take a little bit for me to explain, but stick with me, skimmers, ’cause I think it’ll be worth it.

I don’t read print books because they are inefficient, in an “if the news is important, it will find me sort of way“.

If I come across a nugget in a book, anything I want to underline or dogear or tape to my bathroom mirror, I am completely frustrated that I cannot link to it, note it to one of my action lists, or copy it, without interrupting my flow.

I know I could go back and transcribe it, but the truth is, I never do — just like I’m never gonna digitize the hundreds of hours of MiniDV tape of great events and people I’ve captured over the years.

That little barrier to efficiency stops me from starting.

Then I began thinking about that little barrier through the lens of Clay Shirky‘s, Here Comes Everybody, which I bought in print (with the cool button cover!) and haven’t read yet.

But! — I have seen the videos and skimmed the posts ;) — which have me agreeing that I, too, am completely baffled by information that has no mouse.

Which is why I decided to buy a Kindle.

I talked to Lee at Mind Camp 5, to confirm that the Kindle has copy, paste, and notation functions — because that, to me, is the minimal definition of Shirky’s mouse notion.

Now I’ve got a decision to make.

When I ordered the Kindle back on January 8th, it was listed as backordered for 7 weeks. Being the impatient person that I am, I even contact friends at Amazon who used to be on the Kindle team to see if I could get it any faster.

They said no way — Oprah cleaned them out and there were none left.

Which wasn’t a big deal at the time, ’cause I figured, maybe the stars would align and I’d be one of the first people to get a Kindle v2 — which, if you’ve ever had that happen before with a market disrupting gadget, is a total geek high — doesn’t often get better than that for nerd edge cases like me.

So I was hanging in there, but today the plot has thickened, as they say.

I now have no steady paycheck coming in, a limited amount of savings, and no firm work lined up.

Reason tells me I should trim staff and aggressively cut expenses.

But poetry tells me something else.

It tells me that it might not be the right decision to trim this $350 expense — maybe what I’ll learn from the experience will be worth the price, despite the risk — this is a heavy thought when we’ve still got preschool and day camp to pay for.

Poetry tells me that this might be the exact right kind of “illogical anti-bean counter” decision — the tale of which might help explain through story (in lieu of bullet points) what I’ve been trying to articulate to all of my dear friends from the print side of design — that the world is vastly changing — it’s happening much faster than any of us ever imagined — and it’s probably a good idea for us to get ahold of some new wineskins.

When I start to talk like that to friends who have not had their synapsis fucked with like mine have been, they either look at me blankly, like I am Charlie Brown “mwah, mwah, mwahing” it, or — they look at me like I’m intentionally trying to be a dick (instead of intentionally pursuing them with a deep love and doing my damnedest to explain something very urgent).

Poetry tells me this might be the exact right kind of “hang onto your hats kids” moment that we will remember years from now — when the form magically came alive and transformed into the content — showing how I can’t hardly imagine writing anything without a mouse anymore, either.

So, I think I’m gonna keep the Kindle on order.

I’ve got a funny kind of faith that it’s all gonna work itself out.

: : :

I have imagined writing deeper think pieces for many years now, maybe even books — always trying to find the time to stop for a minute.

Right now I’m thinking that this shitty first draft might make a nice chapter in a book called “Google and the Search for Soul” — which would be about the wonder of this age and how its changing, and challenging, our humanity.

That book has been a baby I’ve nurtured for a while — and when I’ve shared my secret with friends like Scott or Don, I always try to infect them with the spirit of the thing by describing what the cover would look like –

It’d be the Google interface with the word soul in the search box — and the mouse hovering over “I’m feeling lucky”.

Then I usually add something about how I’m sure Larry could back me up if Larry had any objections to that design.

Then I tell them how I’d get ahold of Tim in a very Book-Pitch-2.0-ish sort of way and we just do this thing.

Maybe I’m nuts, but I’m kinda infected with a crazy imagination right now — and I hear Tim likes Chesterton.



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