Monday, May 21, 2012

Google Reader is My New Favorite Thing

The internet has things worth my time.
I used to spend hours on the internet going through a bunch of bookmarked sites that I wanted to keep up with. I don't know why I never tried an RSS feed, I just didn't. However, a few months ago I started using Google Reader, and I absolutely love it. I get all the content from all the sites I love, and I only have to go one place for it. Initially I spent just as much time keeping up with my favorite sites, but having everything in one place helped me better limit my reading time and cut out sites that didn't inform me well or bring me joy. Once I realized how to save time, it became an easy thing to do, and now I get to writing just as often as I read (which explains my recent return to the blog-o-sphere).

Another technological advancement that has saved me time? My Amazon Kindle. I can read books, magazines, and newspapers all on one device, it's easy and guilt-free to highlight things, and I can look up word definitions in seconds. This might be sad to admit, but I love my kindle (which I named the Kimdle) so much that reading regular books is actually tiresome. The Kimdle is easier to transport, easier to find things on, and so much more versatile than regular print media. While I'm a complete convert, my fiance likes his only for novels because he finds reference materials too bothersome to flip back and forth for.

All of this sort of got me thinking (and by sort of I mean I had to think of something else to say because this post is shorter and more self-indulgent than usual) about the value of technology versus the feeling of a physical thing that will show wear, tear, and love over the years of its life. The first thing that comes to mind in this somewhat tired debate is my favorite gardening book ever, Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler. I have this in book form, as it's not published on the kindle. Over the years I've added notes, drawings, and addendums to the wonderful text that Fowler authored. I wouldn't dream of throwing  this book away, because of the amount of growth and living documented in it's pages. However, I've chucked a number of my other much-loved books as soon as I got them in digital format. The deciding factor for me is whether or not the object can serve as a journal of my life. The books that were passed down through my family and now belong to me tell stories outside of the printed words and pictures they contain. Other books, whose tales I love, but whose physical being tells no specific story, I have released into the universe, perhaps to become a loved prop in someone else's life story.

Ultimately, why we all read.
For me, the Kimdle lets me read more and in a better way. I have a  box of books and journals that mean more to me than they would to someone else, but I now mostly read on my Kindle because I can find material easily and quickly, as well as read through them with better understanding and interaction. Likewise, with Google Reader I can keep up with a lot more of what's going on in the world and in a lot less time. Rather than mourn the loss of analog and physical formats, I rejoice in how easy it is to find inspiration now, and compensate for my cold digital consumption by creating warm analog offerings of my own, like my garden,  homemade meals, knitted goodies, and little stories or essays, all of which, ironically enough, I share with the world through digital means.

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