The perils of reading online

While more people in the western world now prefer to use the internet for their daily dose of news over the traditional newspaper, newspaper readership in India is not faltering. At least till now. However with the burgeoning usage of internet by urban Indians, the numbers could drop. With 24 x 7 access to  the latest news updated by the minute online on any internet enabled device, it is easy to understand why the paper is no longer preferred by many.

While rationalists may argue that information, whether on the screen or on paper is the same, I digress. Reading on the internet offers a different experience from reading the paper. With tons of images and links to various other pages, it becomes difficult to concentrate on a particular article. We may find another link interesting and quickly click on it leaving the present item half read and continue clicking on further links which may appear on the next page.

It is also highly unlikely that we open the web browser for the sole purpose of  reading. Our emails and social media pages would be open always and constant notifications would simply drag our attention to check them out immediately foregoing the current article being read.

All these attention crippling effects mentioned ensures that we hardly read and analyze something thoroughly before moving on. This leads to difficulties in retaining what we have read and a reduced attention span while reading.

However, it is unfair to blame the internet for these effects; for it is we who can choose to use it wisely or not.


Blackberry’s fall from grace

Blackberrys which were extremely popular just a few years back are now struggling to survive in the smart phone market. They now occupy a meagre portion of the smart phone market as compared to an overwhelming majority few years back. Much of its share has been gobbled up by of course the iOs and Android phones. Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of Blackberry are now facing rising losses and its sad to see them go down in a market which they virtually invented.

The Blackberry’s rise was due to its association with Corporate life. It became a must have device for every corporate professional. This was due to the convenience and uniqueness it offered for email and messaging services. They were infamously referred to as  ‘Crackberrys’ due to their excessive usage by its owners and in a reference to crack cocaine addiction. But its ironical that this was the reason for its fall too. Though it was ideal for the corporates, it was ideal only for the corporates. It was ideal only for its email and messaging services and nothing else. Other phones like the Apple’s iPhone and Android phones could do much more as well as being equally convenient for messaging and emails.  They were more, lets say, well-rounded than the uni-dimensional Blackberrys. So people started to shift their loyalties to these phones.

The question then arises about how exactly did the Blackberry go down?

Unlike The iPhones and the androids, the Blackberrys did not offer the option of  using third-party apps, until recently.  Apps are a major reason for the successes of iPhones and the androids due to the vast customization options they offer. There are a huge number of apps available in the apple and android markets which offer a ton of features. Users of Blackberry had to be content with the pre-installed features on the phone which included just the basic stuff. By the time, RIM opened up its system third-party apps, the damage had already been done. The iPhones and the Androids had swept the market. Besides, their app-store offers only a fraction of the apps available in the Apples or the Android stores. It is also believed that developers are finding it tougher to develop apps for the Blackberry as compared to the Androids or the iPhone.

Another reason is the omnipresent QWERTY keypads in the Blackberry phones. Though they offer easy typing, they severely inhibit navigation and entertainment options. Touch screen phones are far more easier to navigate through and they offer a rich entertainment experience due to a larger screen area.

In the highly competitive technology domain, it is imperative to continuously innovate and stay one step ahead of the competitors, else the product dies. Blackberry found out the hard way by sticking to its ‘business user’ image.

Could it change its fortunes with the release of the new Blackberry 10 mobile operating system? Lets wait and watch.

How eReaders are opening a new chapter in our lives

Last December, I bought myself a Kobo Touch e-book reader. Now, I realize that I have read more books in the past six months than the last decade.

E-book readers are playing a major role in inspiring people to read more.   According to this survey, e-book readers read 24 books a year as compared to 15 by non e-book readers on an average.

So why do people read more with their eReaders? Let me answer that from a teenager’s perspective.

The convenience

eReaders are amazingly convenient. Most of the time, my reading plans would get upset as I would have rarely taken the time to visit the library/bookstore to get hold of a book.  With eReaders and online libraries, I can easily download my required book and start reading it on my Kobo in a matter of minutes. This is far more convenient for the impatient and reluctant readers. Furthermore, every time I finish reading an e-book or find an e-book boring, I can immediately start reading the next from the hundreds of e books stored in my eReader. Having such a large collection of ebooks packed into a light and portable device  ensures that my reading plans will never get affected especially when I’m traveling.

The ‘Wow’ factor

In this era of technology, when we are addicted to our cell phones and laptops, it is natural that we will be attracted to any ‘cool’ gadget; and eReaders are ‘cool’ electronic gadgets that are immensely popular. So much so that the act of looking at my adorable eReader simply forces me to switch it on and start reading. It is no different from how people are spending hours on their iPads or laptops due to the sheer novelty of these devices.

While purists may argue that reading from an eReader can never match the ‘traditional’ reading experience, it has certainly re-‘Kindled’ my joy of reading.

Why I am phasing out of Facebook

“Oh please! Dont joke” said one. “I bet you will come back tomorrow” said another.”I have tried to quit many times, but could not resist coming back. I’m sure you would too.” said one more. These were the reactions of some of my friends when I had told them that I would be quitting Facebook.

All these  responses strengthened my resolve to quit fb. However I decided not to delete my account as I did not want to lose my network of contacts which I had established . So one day I decided that I would not log in for as long as possible. But I simply didn’t last. The very next day, I jammed in my Id and password and practiced my routine of checking my notifications, analyzing friends profiles and harvesting my farm.

Facebook says it provides a great way to connect and keep in touch with friends but it has made me feel more disconnected. I realized that it had made me much more self-obsessed. I felt the need to be watched and admired by my peers on Facebook. In fact my online life revolved around the need to be more ‘liked’ and get lots of  ‘comments’ on whatever I did on Facebook. I have spent hours thinking of that ‘ultra cool status’ ,boasting my iPad,  describing every detail of my visit to a cricket stadium, just for the cause of popularizing my online image.

Little did I realize, that Facebook is a place infested with millions of attention seekers like me.  Everyone wants their ‘share’ of  online fame. From displaying photos with celebrities to posting their near perfect GPAs, everyone are trying to sell themselves for a couple of ‘comments and likes’.  Finding out that I constitute just a small portion of others lives in their journey to become more popular made me feel lonelier.

But quitting Facebook altogether is virtually impossible.

All information regarding my college such as schedule of classes,  fees, results are being updated on my college Facebook group on a regular basis, tips from seniors regarding placements and further study options keep pouring in, and even the Director sometimes addresses the students through Facebook. I would also like to say an occasional ‘hi’ to my childhood friends just to stay connected with them.

Having already failed in trying to quit Facebook; I have decided to gradually lower my usage on a day to day basis so that I wouldn’t experience the strong desire to log back in and check my notifications and see what others are up to, until I use only my mail account to check notifications regarding my college and keep in touch with old friends.

(P.S – I will be using Facebook to promote this blog).