Links of Interest (August 16th 2007 Through August 22nd 2007)

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
Launch: Google Earth Adds Sky
Google Earth adds a “Switch between Sky and Earth” button. The Sky view is made up of over 1 million photographs. Nice!
Sigler v. Hendrix Webscab Smackdown
On September 19th 2007 Terry Bison will moderate a debate between Scott Sigler and Howard Hendrix revolving around releasing works of fiction online for free (you know, webscabs).
That Yawn After Lunch Is Perfectly Normal
Feel sleepy after lunch? Here’s why. I agree with the suggestion of a short nap. Around 2pm on weekends I usually hit a wall, after which I’m not productive. A 10 minute nap is enough to stave that off for me.
Where you fall in poll of U.S. reading habits
Apparently one in four Americans read no books last year. Those who did, read four on average. I wonder if the poll took audiobooks into account.
Warner Bros. Follows the Yellow Brick Road
Warner wants to create a new Oz film. Todd McFarlane is involved. I love the Oz books. I do not have high hopes for this movie.
Sucking it up with the new Roomba
C|NET looks at the new Roomba 500 series from iRobot. We’re pretty happy with our existing Roomba. My kids talk to it sometimes.
The Best Software for Mac OS X
I’m new to Mac OS X, but this looks like an worthwhile list of applications.
Author King ‘mistaken for vandal’
Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal when he started signing books in an Australian book shop. I admit I’ve imagined having books on the shelves and just going in and signing them. Never really thought it through though.

Audiobooks Are Not Cheating

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

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 Audible.com (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.

Reading “the War of Art”

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

I picked up Stephen Pressfield‘s The War of Art yesterday. It’s a short book, but I’ve not had any extended time to dedicate to reading, so it may take me a few days. The book has been on my radar for some time. When I saw it come up again over at 43 Folders I decided to buy it. I mean, I had been meaning to check out The Merlin Show after hearing Merlin Mann on TWiT, and I’d recently been introduced to the music of Jonathan Coulton, so seeing them together with a mention of the book seemed like some sort of sign. Adding extra weight to this, my wife had also recently discovered Jonathan Coulton’s music independently of me. That guy gets great word of mouth.

Anyhow, I grabbed the book at lunch Friday. I’m not sure if that qualifies it as an impulse buy or not, but who cares?

I finished the first of the books three parts this morning. While there are a few parts I don’t agree with, it really seems to hit the nail on the head 97% of the time. I’ll hold back on giving my final recommendation until I finish it, but so far, real good.