Audiobooks Are Not Cheating

GalleyCat pointed out The New York Times article Your Cheatin’ Listenin’ Ways (also mentioned on TeleRead this morning). It’s not the first time an article about audiobooks in The New York Times has set me off. I continue to be dumbfounded by peoples reactions. I’m even more disturbed by the people in the article who listen to audiobooks an feel guilty about it. What’s wrong with people?

In general I don’t feel the need to defend myself on this, but it seems many audiobooks listeners feel some sort of shame, so I guess I will. Listening to an unabridged audiobook is not cheating. Listening to an unabridged audiobook is reading a book. The majority of books I consume are in audio form. When reading paper book I sometimes find that I don’t remember the last few pages and have to reread them. This happens much less often when listening to audiobooks (and when it does I do backtrack and listen again). I also don’t have the luxury of doing just one thing at a time. I have responsibilities to my family, my writing, and my job. I was only getting six hours of sleep before the new baby. When am I supposed to read? I do have a number of print books I want to read but they have a long waiting period before I can get to them. Even once I do it often takes months for me to get through them. I’ve had John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War in my queue for a while and I’m elated to find out yesterday that it will be available on audio soon.

Most importantly, I’m thirty and my eyes are not in good shape. They aren’t going to get any better. I already have separate reading/computer glasses and my eyes have basically shut down due to eye strain multiple times.

The reality is, there’s very little difference between listening and reading. According to The New York Times article:

“If the goal is to appreciate the aesthetic of the writing and understand the story,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, then there won’t be much difference between listening and reading. “The basic architecture of how we understand language is much more similar between reading and listening than it is different.”

I know this is true. When I’ve re-listened to audiobooks I’ve been amazed at how much of the story I remember word for word.

My wife and I have been listening to Harry Potter on audio since before book three. Listening together is tougher now then it was then, so it’ll probably take a year to get through the new one, but it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy books with my wife in this way. Currently I’m working to instill a love of audiobooks in my children. I’ve found some great stuff for them on (which is where I get most of my stuff as well). I love reading to my kids, but I also enjoy experiencing a story with them, and just enjoying it. I feel no shame in any of this.

Ron McLarty wasn’t able to get The Memory of Running published in print until after the audiobook was available and people heard it. Numerous authors are releasing free serialized audiobooks, many for otherwise unavailable works. I assume they consider the medium valid. Feel free to comment whether you agree or disagree. I’d like to hear what others think.

Podiobooks and Free e-books Harmful?

Flametoad seems to thinks so (found via TeleRead). He suggests that authors like Cory Doctorow, JC Hutchins and Scott Sigler are devaluing the audiobook and e-book formats, and buying the p-book is “paying for the paper because the content has no value”

I don’t see it. Perhaps these authors value readers. After all, what value does you work have if no one has read it? Cory Doctorow’s books keep showing up in the bookstore. In fact IDW recently bought the rights to do a series of comics based on his works even though the license for those works allows anyone to create such comics non-commercially. Scott Sigler recently managed to sell quite a few copies of his new print book recently. Heck, I bought two (one as a gift).

I have both an and a account. Do I value one over the other? Not really. I don’t think most people equate free with no value. Not anymore, if they ever did.

Not Happy

Things haven’t been going well lately. Not in any way. So far, today continues that trend.

I got up early to work on my type in. My current speed is about ten minutes per page to get it done. I’ve got over 500 pages left, so that’s well over 80 hours of work left if I don’t manage to speed up somehow. So I don’t need additional setbacks.

I mentioned before that I started doing revisions in WriteWay Pro. It’s pretty good in a lot of ways. After finishing two scenes this morning I thought I should do a global search and replace on a changed character name. Now I’m used to working in where this same type of activity on this same size document is fairly speedy. Also I have set up to auto-save a copy of the file every few minutes. I do this because when I get working I loose track of things like real life. I’m sure you can see where this is going. After watching the simple Search & Replace peg my CPU usage at 100% for about 20 minutes and error came up. When I clicked “OK” WriteWay Pro just went away. Not good.

I opened WriteWay back up, looked at where my edits left off and mourned the last hour of my life which was a complete and utter waste of time. Now I have to go to work, so here’s to yet another day with no writing progress.

E-Mail Miscommunication: Blaming the Medium

Warning: Potential grumpy old man rant ahead.

I saw this article today on slashdot all about how e-mail communication leads to misunderstanding. It’s an old argument I’ve heard before, and while I’ve seen it in action a number of times, I still don’t buy it.

One of the arguments most often touted is that e-mail has no “tone of voice”. This is true, but neither does any form of written word. None of the novels I’ve read have a tone of voice either (excluding audiobooks), but if the writing is clear, it’s a non-issue. The article discusses a lack of facial expressions in email. What? Even if that were true (which it is not, actually), I fail to see the relevance. Write clear, and you will not be misunderstood. On the other side of that coin, don’t read things into an e-mail that are not clearly there. If it seems ambiguous, whatever you think it means is probably wrong.

You really can’t blame the medium for the message. People today generally have poor written communication skills. Writing an email should be no different that writing a letter. The last actual letter I recived from a friend is still tacked up on my desk. It’s well written, clear, concise, and in a style quite similar the longer e-mails she sends. The quick, one liner e-mails are a different matter. We all send them. Sometimes they are unclear. When they are, the best thing to do is to ask for clarifacation, not go off and assume the sender is attacking you.

Sure, I had a few bad experiences at first with e-mail. I said some things that were widely misunderstood. I got involved in battles that didn’t need to exist. Everyone does this, but there is no reason for it to happen more than a few times. I learned to save a draft, move on to something else, and reread the e-mail later. If anything seemed ambiguous I would fix it before sending. I don’t still do this, but I did learn a lot of lessons about the types of mistakes I was likely to make. I’m more likely to avoid those now. I just assume everyone will misunderstand everything I say, and I rewrite to try to make that more difficult.

People need to take the time and reread what they wrote. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying clearly. It’s really not that hard. If rewriting for clarity is something that you do have an issue with, learn to love the emoticon, it might save a friendship or two. Remember, you have no idea how long the person on the other end will keep that e-mail for. That right there should be enough to make you think before you click send.

Perhaps the real problem is more to do with a misplaced sense of entitlement. Many people who have e-mail take it for granted. The fact that you can communicate with anyone in the world almost instantly holds no sense of wonder anymore. I saw it happen. I may have missed the start of Eternal September, but watched the downward spiral and knew where it was heading fairly early on. The medium is not the issue, it’s how it’s (ab)used.

Where did it go?

I used to write poetry. I wrote it all the time. I have a two foot stack of notebooks filled with it (and I’m pretty sure I don’t have all of it still). When I was in high school, study hall was for writing poetry. It’s what got me through the rest of the day. Any little thing that was on my mind, it ended up expressed in verse. It got me through a lot of tough times.

Continue reading “Where did it go?”

Working in a Coal Mine

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, I’ve been working. In fact, that’s my excuse for everything. I haven’t done much of anything besides work. I wake up, eat breakfast, work, eat lunch, work, eat dinner, work, put the kids to bed, wind down, sleep, lather rinse, repeat. Sometimes I skip winding down and get some extra work in. I expect this to continue into March, and then return to some semblance of normal.

I’m not complaining too much. It’s good to be busy, and collect a paycheck, as long as this pace lessens before I burn out. Maybe I’ll take some of that vacation I’ve got saved up and finish the second draft.

Not in my house!

From USA Today (12/6/2005):

Guess who’s coming for honey? As part of a barrel-full of Winnie the Pooh anniversary events, Disney is working on a new animated series that will replace Christopher Robin with a 6-year-old girl.

What is going on here? What happened to ‘if it ain’t broke’? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised after Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, which sold off a big chunk of the wonder of the 100 Acre Wood. Of course, the real Christopher Robin would probably be happy to know he is being removed, but I doubt that had much to do with the decision to dump him. I’m happy to say that Rachel heard the stories from the books very early on. Sure I read them to her when she could barely understand them (and I still do). She even recognized some of the stories when she sees them in animated form.

A. A. Milne’s Pooh was not just for children, it was for everyone. Disney’s Pooh seems to be just for money.