Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blind Alley. Or Not?

Paper-book. Last week I sorted out 500 paper books of my father-in-law. He died 7 years ago. Books on psychology and sociology. He was a teacher. I kept only 15 books. The rest will be thrown away. The sorting yielded a box of things that were hidden in the paper books: postcards, accounts, address changes, newspaper clippings, private letters, pieces of papers with notes (phone numbers, quotes, summaries, etc). In one afternoon, the life of T slipped through my hands. Forty years of reading and apparently non reading. A lot of books were - as far as I could tell - never read. 

E-book. In a couple of months I collected around 1,500 e-books. Read only two of them on my iPad. I guess I'll never read most of them ever. Never.

Transition. I live in a transition period. I have a lot of paper books. Books with dog ears, newspaper clippings and notes. (No private letters stored in my books.) My kids will be able to let my - paper book - life slip through their fingers one day. Analyse which books apparently are read and which were not. Wondering why I made certain notes and stored exactly those newspaper clippings.

Blind alley. Wondering about my personal reading will only be possible of my paper books. My e-book life of reading will be hidden from them. Hardly any personal touch in an e-book. 

Or not? Hardly any personal touch in an e-book? Unless someone invents 'Your Dog Ears. Digital Bookmarks with a Personal Touch: Note. Picture. Link'. Storage of 'All My Personal Digital Dog Ears' in a cloud? cDogEar? cBookmark?


  1. Is it true that your reading would be hidden because it's based in a digital landscape? As far as my e-book reading goes, it's completely transparent which books I read, exactly where I stopped if I didn't finish, what highlights or notes I made, what I shared publicly, etc.

    Of course, I can't tuck personal memorabilia into an e-book, but I'm finding that the online scrapbook of our lives (via websites, social media, mobile devices) provides a fairly rich commentary on each day. My digital breadcrumb trail is vast—nothing gets deleted any more, which sometimes feels dangerous … thus someone was inspired to write a book on the topic, DELETE! …

  2. @Jane No it's not hidden but it's stored fragmentary (different e-book formats and/ or different hardware) and partially accessible (different accounts and passwords). Will those who inherit our e-books have easy access to our e-books? With paper books it's easy. E-books ... much more constraints. Secure it in a testament?

    Same could be said of our digital breadcrumb trails. Not all data is easy accessible to our heirs. Not everything is in 1 cloud yet. Different hardware. Different software. Different accounts. Different passwords. All our trails are not in 1 cloud yet.