I’m writing this on my phone again today, because I just didn’t feel like carrying my laptop when I left the office yesterday. There wasn’t anything particularly onerous about carrying it, but there wasn’t anything particularly beneficial, either, so I figured “just leave it”. Life is irritating enough already without literally shouldering burdens that don’t seem to offer much benefit.
I think, maybe, if I do ever write any new fiction, I might do it on my phone, as opposed to even just with pen on paper. The great advantage of writing on the phone is that I can readily do so pretty much anywhere with relative ease. Even riding a bus would not be particularly troubling for writing on the phone, as I know from personal experience, whereas writing with a mini-laptop, though doable, is far less convenient, as I also know from personal experience.
One difficulty with fiction on a phone as opposed to the laptop is that there tend to be fewer functions available when using the phone, but that is improving all the time. Already, the Google Docs app has bold and italics and underlining and text color changing available right on the main screen. They are quickly catching up with MS Word, though Word also has a pretty good phone version of their app. Of course, for writing on Google Docs, one does seem to need connectivity, whereas with MS Word on the laptop, one can write and save and upload later.
Writing by hand on paper is limited only by the amount of paper one has, but to “upload” those writings is a rather laborious process. Of course, when I’ve written books by hand, there’s always not only the editing one does when reviewing the previous day’s writing, but also that which one does when typing it in. That can be quite useful, because the change in format tends to make one look at things differently. When editing drafts on Word, I often change the font of the whole file each time through, which makes me look at the writing in subtly different ways. I’m not sure how much actual difference it makes, but I think it at least does something.
Of course, all this may well be moot. I don’t know if I’m going to write any new fiction, ever. I don’t think many people will be too disappointed by that. How many people read books anymore, anyway? Let’s have a show of hands.
As I thought: I don’t see anyone but me holding up a hand. My sister is too far away to see clearly, but I think, or rather I suspect that she’s raising her hand. I know that she reads. But who else does anymore? Maybe I’m fooling myself‒because I was brought up in a home with readers, and then attended an Ivy League university and all that, and married someone I had met there who was also a reader‒but it seems that very few people read actual books anymore.
I was terribly disappointed when Sam Harris, in response to people who think like I do, said that he was not going to be mainly writing books (or even blog posts) much anymore, because his podcast reached more people in 24 hours than one of his books would reach in years.
Of course, my inclination is to respond with the question, “But how many people does your podcast actually, truly reach?” Podcasts are nice and can be interesting, of course. But even if they last for hours at a time, their treatment of any subject can only be superficial. Now, it was thanks to Sam Harris’s podcast that I went out and bought books by people like Eliezer Yudkowsky, Max Tegmark, Paul Bloom, David Deutsch, Yuval Harari, Anne Applebaum, David Frum, Anil Seth, Geoffrey West, and so on. But it was reading those books that was the real educational experience. No podcast, even one by as intelligent and skilled an interlocutor as Sam Harris, can really be much more than a superficial skimming. Sam is better at that kind of thing than anyone else I’ve encountered; he clearly thinks carefully about and deeply understands the subjects he’s addressing. But even his interactions with his “guests” are just the beginning of interest in their work.
I tend to like his solo podcasts more, when he talks about his own thoughts and reflections on given topics, often in response to questions from his listeners. His speech is careful and lucid, and he doesn’t seem to approach subjects frivolously. From him, a solo podcast really is almost like a written article. But I still wish more people would read, though clearly I’m preaching to the choir here.
Even WordPress, in the main page of the blog when I get on the site, has recently promoted the service of podcast production, with the enticing offer that one can increase one’s reach with a podcast. Now, I’ve done some of what are, effectively, podcasts, posted here and on Iterations of Zero and on YouTube. They can be fun to do, and they’re easier on the thumbs than phone-written blog posts, but one cannot do a podcast on a train or a bus…unless one’s podcast is something like “The Sounds of Public Transportation” or similar. That might be intriguing for an hour, I guess, but after that, I think people would tune out.
Actually, I think people probably tune out a lot of the time on even the best podcasts. If you’re listening to a podcast while working out, how much can you really think about the subject under discussion? Not that it’s a waste of time to do it; surely any exposure to interesting ideas is better than none, or to listening to low-quality background music.
Maybe my complaints are just sour grapes born of the fact that my hearing is unilaterally quite poor and accompanied by tinnitus, and that Sam Harris isn’t talking to as many people I find interesting anymore. I have enjoyed it when I’ve done what I call my “audio blogs”. They’re more trouble to edit than a blog post, but they are way easier than a video post (and easier on the poor consumers’ eyes than any video that includes me).
Perhaps I’ll do this: I’ve taken far too long to address the question of sugar that my sister asked me to address, and I haven’t said much about Parkinson’s disease. Also, I received a fairly recent suggestion about cybernetics/robotic parts and the like. Maybe I’ll try to record some relatively brief audio files about those. I’ve learned some new things about audio recording recently, mainly by trial and error after pondering just how close Thom York in particular gets to the mic when he’s singing. I’m always trying to learn more, I’ll say that for me without too much fear of being narcissistic.
In the meantime, I won’t be writing a post tomorrow, unless something very unexpected happens, and of course I won’t be doing one on Sunday. For those who celebrate it, Sunday night is the first evening of Hanukkah. I hope you enjoy it!
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