Boston: Day 2

I got off to a late start yesterday. I was tired, but my late start was due mostly to being cold. I’ve had warm weather for months now. Coming here was like walking back into winter.

First stop was the Harvard Museum of Natural History. A very nice, small museum. I’m still struggling to wrap my head around the lack of central air here. There were huge specimens on display, including a kronosauraus. Which makes a shark look like a shrimp.

That museum was followed by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. I lucked out because the two museums are actually connected. Less time walking, more time learning.

This one had some really cool pieces on the Mayans. I felt like I walked through the Mayan Empire at one point. The most fascinating for me was an exhibit on a project Harvard students tackled a few years ago. They dug up certain areas around the campus to unearth any artifacts related to the now-demoloshed Indian College.

The third and final stop of the day was the MIT Museum. I had no big expectations for it. I knew it was small and focused almost exclusively on MIT work. Which is extensive, but seemed limiting. I was wrong. The museum is definitely small. But there’s an exhibit on ROBOTS. I haven’t seen anything like any of them. It was really cool. And lots of interactive exhibits. And one on the works and research being done by current students.

I made it all the way through all three museums I visited yesterday. I’m looking to keep the streak alive today.

Also, I has my first Mexican food here. It was forgettable. 

An app to get Kids Reading

We all know that apps are constantly being developed and lauched for just about every thing imaginable. But every once in awhile we’ll discover one that actually serves a special purpose. Which is exactly what I found when I came across Hooked.

Hooked is an app focused on getting kids to enjoy reading. How it works is simple. The app sends readers stories via text message to get them interested. The app will let you keep reading for free until a certain point is reached. Then it pauses for a half hour. The goal is to get the reader so hooked into the story that they decide to pay for the app rather than continuing with the free version and the pauses. The cost is $2.99 a week, $7.99 a month, or $39.99 a year. At this point the service claims to have nearly two million subscribers.

I think the idea of a company trying to change how kids get into reading is admirable. I grew up in the 90s and the amount of technology I had is nothing compared to what’s available now. But I don’t see this app as being the answer to anything. Mostly because of the cost. The target audience is 13-23. Which means you have middle school kids likely using the app and then they’re asked to pay for something. The problem I discovered is this app has no affiliation with any publisher. Writers write stories specifically for the app. If in the future the app can get publishers to jump on board then it could be a game changer, but at this point I just don’t see it surviving in its current form.

What have you discovered is the best way to get kids interested in reading?

Not so Fast

You know how technology is basically ruining all of our lives? Wait, what?

You know what I mean. Companies are constantly trying to alter how we do something. Sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes it isn’t. And sometimes we humans resist the change with all of our might.

There are apps for just about everything. You can just about avoid stepping foot into any brick and mortar establishment. Heck, if you work from home you could be a hermit and have everything else delivered to you via drone. Okay, not just yet.

Well Pew has once again released its findings regarding our reading habits. Though more people are reading on smartphones and tablets, the overwhelming majority are still reading on the good ol paper. I guess we like having to adjust our reading based on the available lighting. Ha!
Take that, technology! You can’t win them all!

No More Librarians?

I actually know someone who just began his work toward an MLS (Master of Library Science) degree within the last few weeks, so this news could be troubling.

The advances of technology have changed several industries over the course of time, and we all know about the struggle publishers had to endure to get their heads above water. It looks like there may be more change coming to the book world in the near future. Librarians may become obsolete.

A team in Singapore has created a robot that can find and identify missing and misplaced books and relay that information to library workers. Obviously librarians do more work than getting books into the right place on the shelf, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to imagine a time in which this kind of robot is designed to take on more complex tasks. Then the library theoretically wouldn’t need a librarian on staff, but rather library assistants and associates who lack the graduate degree.

I’m not sure of the intentions of the group that created the robot, but ohht they have opened a can of worms without meaning to?

Robots Writing Books

Let’s face it, robots and different programs are doing things for humans today. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that robots are now being used to write books.

In Japan a major writing competition accepts submissions written by robots, and one submission advanced past the first round of judging. It didn’t win. Not yet.

I’m not sure why anyone would be surprised by this. Technology is doing far more complex tasks than writing books at this very moment. I think it’ll be interesting to see how these robots fare against humans.

Do you think there will be a time in which the publishing industry is compiled of authors and robots both writing books? I think yes, but maybe not in my lifetime.

Two posts today because I didn’t post yesterday. And watch my video on Amazon’s Bosch!

Burning Books

Over the course of human history several groups have made the choice to burn books. And I think ISIS has now done the same. I’m just wondering why this happens.

I understand that during the days before electricity burning books would have been a surefire way to stop people from gaining knowledge. Imagine a town with one central library that was burned to the ground. Would the people just stop learning? No. But not having any books would make it a bit more difficult. But now we’re living in a very different age. We have the internet. We have all kinds of books in the public domain. We can gather information from so many different sources that it really makes no sense to burn books (not that it ever did).

I guess I can see it as an intimidation tactic to demonstrate that nothing is out of your reach, but burning books doesn’t really sway any opinions. Just like burning businesses, historical landmarks, or homes does nothing to change the opinions of people. With the technology that we have today (even in lesser developed countries) books can never really be burned. Printed books can be destroyed, but the information, stories, and everything that lies within the pages of a book cannot be taken away.

On this day in 2014 I published Letter From Character to Author.


Writing by Candlelight


Photo Credit: Pubhist

Hopefully you read my last post in which I wrote about that old thing known as a typewriter. In writing that post I got to thinking about something else I’ve never had to do because of technology. Writing by candlelight. How cool would that be? To be sitting there at your desk writing away into the early morning hours with a small candle lighting your pages. I can’t even write out posts in dim lighting because I can barely see the keys of the keyboard.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I’d rather write with a typewriter or that I’d rather write by candlelight just because, but I do think I’d like to experience the difficulty of typing on an old typewriter and also that of writing in near darkness. Technology is fine and dandy, but it’s contributed to all the distractions that now exist, especially for writers. So why not write without any distractions for a little while? Even if it’s a bit more time consuming.

What do you think about writing by candlelight? Would you ever try it? I think I would, assuming I didn’t light my house on fire.