June 17, 2010

Barack Obama & Why A Hyper-Linked Novel Might Not Be the Best Path To the Future

Filed under: Kids and Life,The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:32 pm

Having been accused of being something of a Luddite myself (we don’t have TV, I don’t own a cell phone–yes, let me repeat, I don’t own a cell phone–and our kids have yet to sip from the pool of gaming devices) I have to say that Mr. Obama strikes me as positively progressive here.

Don’t get me wrong. Word processing lends a whole new level of magic to novel writing (not to mention revising). I love email, the way the net has widened my circle of friends-almost-family. And I love blogging for you.

But I agree with the article. We need balance. I want the next generation–and seven after that–to know what it is to lose itself in a nice, thick book. One that has actual heft to it, a weight in the hands. Novels that don’t contain embedded interviews et al just to make sure our interest is not lost.

A good story takes us away. A dozen links ground us firmly in the here and now as we navigate them. And sometimes the way to become wisest is to get good and lost.


  1. I completely agree with you (and Obama and the author)–I feel like as a society we are on the brink of losing something because the attention spans just get shorter and shorter. I can feel that I get pulled off to this or that and lose my focus pretty darned easily (it is why I still do first draft longhand, for the most part–the PULL is nearly irresistable).

    I HOPE that there is a pull BACK–I think often that happens… we dive into a new technology and think its the best thing EVER and then realize how much better the OLD way was for the most part (think ‘baby formula’ or processed food)–nice to have the new OPTION, but it should be used sparingly… hopefully we will get there!

    Comment by Hart — June 18, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  2. That’s a great take, Hart! I really hope you’re right…

    Comment by jenny — June 18, 2010 @ 11:35 am

  3. There was an interesting moment in THE TIME-TRAVELER’S WIFE watches television for the first time in a long time, and cannot take the commercials–they’re so flashy, zooming around from object to object, and so short. I think there’s a coordinated effort to lower the American attention span (it must bring in more money).

    On the other hand the Internet is my tool, in my nomadic lifestyle, for keeping some amount of stable community, friendship, mutual support. Used well, all technologies can be beneficial.

    Comment by Savvy — June 18, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  4. You know, after spending a year in Japan without TV, I found commercials to be too fast to follow, either mentally or visually. I got used to them quickly, though. I still loathe sites that immediately launch a noisy video; I feel ambushed.

    Comment by Sara — June 24, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

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