Accepting Technology: When I Gave in and Tried the Kindle App

Hearing someone berate new inventions and tools always surprises me, whether it’s the rise of the smartphone, Google Glass, or an all-electric automobile. I typically think of myself as open to change and accepting of new tools, at least enough to try them out or give them time to prove themselves in the real world.

But one technology I’ve never understood is the market of digital e-books. For one, I never understood why someone would spend a couple hundred dollars for a device to read books on, when you could get an iPad or other tablet for a bit more with much more possibility (yes, I understand the e-ink thing). And, I like books. I like to read and enjoy the feeling of paper in my hand and turning pages.

On a side note, but on technology, I would like to share a tweet of a photo from a powerpoint by Douglas Adams, which should help explain the techno-human condition.

I’d say he’s about spot on!

My Foray to the World of Digital Literature

Recently I vacationed with my family in Yosemite and San Francisco (highly recommended). On the trip I continued to read A Feast for Crows, part of the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (also known as the A Game of Thrones series). These books are monstrous! Over a thousand pages and each subsequent book grows in length. Thus I never considered I would complete the full novel during a weeklong trip, but I did! And with days to spare.

Needless to say the story had me hooked and desperate to continue, but try as I may I couldn’t find the next book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, at any local stores (where’s a Barnes & Noble when you need one!).

In my desperation I decided to try my once nemesis, the digital literature app Kindle for iPhone. I downloaded the app and book using 30MB of my precious 300MB data plan (very tight on a vacation trip), and began A Dance of Dragons.

What I Learned About Reading with the Kindle App

Reading with the Kindle app on my iPhone became fairly natural to me after a couple of hours. I did miss the feeling of a paper book in my hand, so I ordered the book using Amazon Prime when I returned home from my trip. But something strange happened after the book arrived on my doorstep a couple of days later; I never opened it! The book continues to sit on my nightstand beside my bed unopened, and to my astonishment, I continue to read on my iPhone.

Did I become accustomed to the small, glowing screen? No, I would prefer a larger area to read from. But what I have grown to love and look forward to is using the built-in dictionary. With a quick tap of the finger I can discover the meaning of new and obscure words that before would have been quickly passed over. Checking the meaning of a word and storing it in a notes section has turned me into an e-reader!

Reasons I like it:

  1. Typography. I’m a designer and typography nut. Sometimes I hate reading a book because of the bad typographic choices, line-height, etc. The Kindle app offers the ability to tweak and change typography to suit my personal taste.
  2. Dictionary. Overall I would say I know a lot of words or can at least infer the meaning of a word, but the app affords highlighting and definition checking! I do so as I stumble across new or interesting words and keep a list. And G.R.R.M. uses a vast, varied amount of words.
  3. Perpetualilty. I have a book with me all the time in my pocket! I read a lot more now (for good or bad) instead of just at night before I go to bed.

Interesting or Unknown Words

I feel like I’m back in school writing out definitions, but I want to share some of the words I have come across in A Dance with Dragons. Don’t worry, I’ll skip the use all the words in a paragraph requirement.

martial inclined or disposed to war; warlike

hoarfrost frozen dew that forms a white coating on a surface

vainglorious boastful or vain; ostentatious

motte a natural or man-made mound on which a castle was erected

bailey the outermost wall or court of a castle

larboard a former word for port

corsair a fast ship used for piracy

bowers a leafy shelter or recess

fastness a secure or fortified place; stronghold

inexorably unyielding; unalterable

revenant a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost

niello a black compound of sulphur and silver, lead, or copper used to incise a design on a metal surface

fronds an often large, finely divided leaf, especially as applied to the ferns and certain palms

firth a long, narrow indentation of the seacoast

vassals a person granted the use of land, in return for rendering homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or other superior

leal loyal; true

nonce the present time or occasion

vair a fur much used for lining and trimming garments

morass a tract of low, soft, wet ground

swards the grassy surface of land; turf

neeps a turnip

tweaking to twist, jerk, or pinch with a sharp or sudden movement

taciturn inclined to silence; reserved in speech; reluctant to join in conversation

farce foolish show; mockery; a ridiculous sham

scion a descendant

roisterer to act in a swaggering, boisterous, or uproarious manner

nubile (of a young woman) suitable for marriage, especially in regard to age or physical development; marriageable

calumnies a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something

hale free from disease or infirmity; robust; vigorous

mooncalf a congenitally grossly deformed and mentally defective person

cadaverous of or like a corpse, haggard and thin

slugabed a lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for arising.

saturnine sluggish in temperament; gloomy; taciturn

nuncle an archaic or dialect word for uncle

dickering to deal, swap, or trade with petty bargaining; bargain; haggle

fomenting to instigate or foster (discord, rebellion, etc.); promote the growth or development of

warren an overcrowded area or dwelling

gaol a variant spelling of jail

harridan a scolding, vicious woman; hag; shrew.

vulpine of or resembling a fox

tawdry gaudy; showy and cheap

churls a rude, boorish, or surly person

oubliettes a secret dungeon with an opening only in the ceiling, as in certain old castles

harbinger anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign

rheumy damp and unhealthy

disinterred to take out of the place of interment; exhume; unearth

succored help; relief; aid; assistance

limned to portray in words; describe

stalwart strong and brave; valiant

Whew, that was an exhausting, exhaustive list, hope you made it to the end! Now if only I could learn to incorporate half the words listed into my writing, hmm. As usual, if you have any thoughts or questions feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter at @calebsylvest.

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