Archive for August, 2010

August 24, 2010

Are you listening?

One of the worst side-effects of the pervasiveness of technology in our lives is that we’re constantly multi-tasking.  (I know, honey: “Men can’t multi-task.”)  How often are we able to devote our full attention to just one thing?  I’m as guilty as the next person.  As I’m writing one document, I have iTunes playing away and if I hear the email chime, I’ll check.  I can be extremely distracted in an effort to not miss anything important and “make the most of my time.”  Well, of course, this means that doing many things poorly ends up becoming the principal mode of operation rather than doing one thing well.  Nowhere does this bother me more than in music.

Music “is the soundtrack of our lives.”  Everywhere you go, there is music playing.  On your car radio – in the mall – your dentists office – as background to every broadcast message you hear.  Music is everywhere.  But how much of it do we actually hear?  Do we ever stop and just listen.  Or are we so inundated with music in our daily lives that the last thing we want to do is put on some music when we get home and just listen.

How many people even have a home stereo system of any sort?  You know, a device that is devoted exclusively to playing music. How many people actually enjoy being totally focused on listening to a single piece of music?  I know that when I force my music classes to listen to music, there is always a segment of the class who have to comment, or are otherwise visibly bored by the fact that the music is the only thing going on at the time.  (email chimed and I looked – damn! I am as guilty of a lack of focus as the next person – or worse!)

I wonder how many people actually read my blog.  But if there is anyone out there, I would love to hear how you listen to music.  iPod? Home stereo?  Car stereo?  Background?  Foreground?

If you comment, I promise to read and respond.  I think that I can stay focused that long!!!!

August 9, 2010

The Future of the Book

I don’t know about you (how could I, I don’t even know who you are!) but I spend a fair amount of time wondering where books are headed.  I am a musician first and often think that the publishing industry is heading down a similar path to the recording industry.  I hope so.  What I like about the path that the recording industry has been forced down is that people are more in charge of determining what is quality in art rather than executives.  Personal taste and an ear for simply good music trumps the need to make money.  What is also happening, with major advances in technology, is that anyone can be a musician.  Not everyone can be a good musician, but anyone with the inclination to fire up GarageBand or a digital recording device can make music at some level.  This takes us back 150 year to the day when every home had a piano and if you wanted to listen to music you, or a friend, had to play it.  This gives the world a growing population of informed listeners.  To be involved in making music, gives you an appreciation of what you are listening to at a much deeper level.

How does this work with the publishing industry?  It has always been easy to write.  We all write, every day.  Shopping lists, class notes, email messages.  But we don’t write creatively with the intent to share our writing.  With blogging, wikis, collaborative ebook writing and emerging self-publishing services, anyone can write to share.  The more you write, the more you appreciate what you read.  Again, we have a growing population of informed readers deciding what is good quality writing.

We are also aided by technology in terms of how we read and write.  We are in closer touch with a vast number of writers via the internet.  We can collaborate with other writers and readers through any number of wikis and services like LibraryThing and GoodReads.  And it is all getting infinitely more portable with the proliferation of ebook readers, netbooks and the iPad.

Another bunch of people who think a lot about the future of books hang out at The Institute for the Future of the Book.  Check their website out to find out where they think this is all going.  In particular, check out this post about the iPad being more of a book than a computer.  Makes a lot of sense to me!

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