The nomadic reader

What a page turner

What a page turner

Here I am yesterday, reading a book on the new Kindle for iPhone app while, you know, being worked on. (My editor Tom and I must have been among the first to download the new app that day.) Later I got home, picked up my actual Kindle, the one I reviewed last month, and kept reading from the page I got to during the haircut (the two devices had automatically synced).

Now, this sort of think should make you think. It is the latest installment in what I called “the new nomadism” in The Economist last year. New behaviors and social contexts are arising out of, not so much new gadgets, but new expectations about connectivity. Big, very big, sociological change is afoot, I believe. And, of course, as an aspiring author I have much to contemplate on the topic of books in particular…

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Backlash moment

I’ve been flying a lot this week, on a route that GoGo now covers (see map). Each time at the gate, a male-female pair of hip, young marketers (the woman in each case being smarter, hipper, attractive and Indian) offered me and the other lop-sided laptop-bag-toting types in the boarding queue a promotion to get connected via WiFi on the flight.

My reaction progressed in two steps:

Step 1) This is great! I will get on the flight, log on, snap a photo or two of the airplane aisle and then blog it right from my seat so that you all can see what a connected urban nomad I am. En passant, I would be corroborating my own thesis in my special report in The Economist on that topic (ie, “nomadism”).

Step 2) What utter nonsense! Have you lost it, Andreas? This is the last redoubt you have for reading. For the next few hours it is you and your biography of Meriwether Lewis, which is 500 pages and must be read and absorbed for you to make progress in one particular chapter of your own book. For once, no kids tugging on you, no phone ringing, no email alerts. Instead, deep, linear immersion. And you are thinking of giving that up just because… you can?

So you had no posts from me while I was in the air. And I’m guessing that you’re no worse off for it.

Incidentally, I noticed that the other lop-sided laptop-bag-toting types also passed on this opportunity for uninterrupted mid-air connectivity, after the same moment of initial temptation. Have we reached the point of backlash? A civilizing counter-trend?

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