Are Print Books Doomed? Gone Like the Dodo Bird, the 8 Track Tape?

Is reading in danger? Are print books doomed? As a reader all of my life, I would be devastated if that was so.

I remember the exact moment I learned to make sense of the printed word, and I remember witnessing that moment in my students, but I could never put it better than Alberto Manguel:

“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning, and at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”

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Three Sisters Read Anne of Green Gables

I am lying on the bed that I share with my sisters. June is on one side, and April is on the other. We are lying sideways in a row, on our stomachs, with our feet hanging over the side. We each have a book on the bed in front of us, turning the pages with a “whumph” as we read. I am reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’, and I’m just coming to an exciting part about the day Anne dyes her hair and it comes out green. I know it is coming, because June has already talked about it.

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A Grandmother Reflects on the ‘Miracle’ of 3D Printing

It would be easy for me, a grandmother with over 7 decades of living to my credit, to ignore 3D  printing and the Internet of Things (IoT), thinking I may be long gone by the time these revolutionary ideas really take hold.

But I’m not about to disregard one of the most compelling ideas to emerge in this era of change, considered by leading scientists to be the “Third Industrial Revolution”. After all, just by virtue of having access to the internet, and being able to type a few keywords into my browser, I can have a front row seat to what promises to be a thrilling journey.

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Our Emotions in Turmoil in a Tough Time

It’s been a tough year. Tough on the world, and tough on our emotions. Like me, you may have been waking up each morning, with an unsettled feeling that things are not quite right. The news is all around you—you know what has been going on and you can’t escape it. What can you do about it, you wonder—how can you help?

You might also be a bit resentful about it, thinking, “Haven’t I already contributed enough? Haven’t I done my share? Isn’t it time I could just sit back and enjoy my last years?”

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Why This Grandmother Worries About Automation and Employment

The impact of automation on employment is finally making it into the news. It’s not a trending topic yet, but at least it’s no longer the “elephant in the room”. Although books like The End of Work (Rifkin) appeared as early as 2002, and online blogs have been warning about advanced technology for at least 5 years,  automation and it’s effect on work has so far avoided the limelight.

In 2013, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote about the rapid advances in computer technology—blaming recent sluggish employment growth on improved industrial automation, from the use of robotics on the factory floor to automated translation services.
“Even more ominous for workers,” he said, “the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.”

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Where in the World Would You Want to Grow Old?

I don’t know about you, but I would like to grow old in a place where I had control over my day, where my choices were honored, and where my needs were met, in the event that I couldn’t take care of myself. And, oh yes, I would also want to be valued and respected.

Now I’m not talking about my current situation—in which I’m growing older, as opposed to growing old. During the growing older part, my contemporaries and I are fully able to direct our lives and take care of our basic needs. But we are all aware that the situation may change when we are truly old.

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Are Things Really Bad, and Getting Worse?

If you listen to any news, if you are aware of world events at all, you are convinced that things are getting worse. Shocking images of the war in Syria, nuclear threats from North Korea, and the behavior of an unpredictable president in the White House leave you gasping and incredulous.

If you’re anything like me, you struggle daily to avoid it, mute it, drown it out, and distract yourself from it. It’s the cacophony of despair that threatens to drag us down. And I’m not alone—only 6% of Americans believe the world is getting better.

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A Perfect Day for Picking Apples

It was another perfect day on the farm. My husband Jim, and my children, Andy and Janie, were gone for the day, and I was planning to wallpaper one of the back bedrooms in our 100 year old house.

But just then, I remembered that Lorne, our carpenter, was coming by to finish some plastering downstairs. And Oh, yes, someone called about picking some apples, from the two overladen trees in our front orchard. Hopefully, they would bring their own containers—I didn’t want to be disturbed, no matter what.

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Old Faithful On The Farm

It was just another day on the farm. Well, it wasn’t really a farm, we were just pretending it was. The chickens were safely in their yard, the dog was with the kids, and the air was filled with the sound of rustling leaves. So far, everything was going fine. My husband left early this morning, he had a staff meeting, Andy was back from Kindergarten, and now he and Janie were playing outside.

It was October, and our fourth month here. But I wasn’t really counting—only once in a while, when things went wrong. Here, it seemed, it was always one step forward and two steps back.

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Blonde Obsession

I decided to be a blonde once. Well, actually. It wasn’t me who decided. It was my hairdresser Maggie’s idea, and I went along.

“Wish I was born with lighter hair,” I complained to her, as she was cutting away, “This dark hair is so harsh.”
“But it’s your natural color”, she said, “It was the way God meant it to be.”
“It doesn’t look like my natural color. Look at my skin. It’s light, like my mothers’. Her hair is lighter, and it looks great on her.”

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Our Grandchildren, the Millennials, Usher in an Era of Change

At first glance, the Millennials look like anyone else, distinguishable only by their youth and the proximity of their iphones. But we know they are different—we can feel it from where we sit, just by looking at them, their group behavior, their subtle interactions. While we are watching everything around us, and making idle conversation, this is not what they are doing. Instead, they are looking down, tracking messages on their phones.

We can see it in their clothing too, simple and comfortable—jeans, tights, blazers, untucked shirts, sneakers, uniformly consistent and understated.

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Your Grandchildren, the Millennials, are Watching American Politics Unfold

My grandson, Aiden, is one of the Millennials, just turning nineteen today. He is perched on the arm of a chair in the front room, his long legs reaching halfway across the carpet, blond hair punked in a short cut, a shadow of a beard on his chin. He takes his eyes away from his iphone momentarily, and asks me,

“Gramma, what do you think is going to happen?”

“About what?” I ask.

“About what’s going on now, across America, across the world.”

I feel a little twinge in my chest, something that always happens when I know I have to dig deep and find a difficult truth that needs to be spoken. Here is my grandson, who I have watched grow and turn into a beautiful young man, with his whole life ahead of him, having worries no young person should have. We grandparents, like their parents, always want to say to the young people in our lives, “You are safe”.

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