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Internet (Blog) Dieting

An internet dieter does not have the advantage that food dieters do when they finally step on the scale. Perhaps there is an app out there that keeps track of the hours you are on the internet. Nevertheless, at the risk of fooling myself, I claim to be making progress with my internet diet.

When wireless internet access got better around 2005, I really thought I was done with book-reading, and that the internet would be my main venue for reading in the future. But experience has shown that most blogs are too trivial and repetitive to waste much time with. Of course the internet is still good for many things other than reading blogs.

Ever mindful that one can't cut back on a vice without replacing it with something else, I've gone back to reading books, which thankfully has become much easier the last few years. For one thing, reading is now easier on the eyes.  This is crucial to older eyes on winter evenings, especially when they are camping in an RV without electrical hookups.

The software lets you change the font size, and the displays have gotten better. I read books on my netbook in various formats. Lately I've been emphasizing "Kindle for PC". Something as trivial as softening the background color to off-white makes life quite a bit easier for the eyes.

Out of curiosity I once selected the double margin option: I had to laugh about that one. Old ways die hard, and reader-software wants to emulate dead tree books even when it doesn't make sense. What good are narrow columns? All they do is make your poor ol' eyes do twice as much rastering. I really like reading across the long wide line of the netbook's display, which is a horizontal (16:9) rectangle. I'll bet most eReader users still read in vertical rectangle mode as a carryover from the dead tree era, despite it making no sense from an eyestrain perspective. 

It's a great advantage to a traveler to escape carrying a heavy box of books around, finding decent used bookstores, and needing multiple local library cards. How convenient it is to just go to Gutenberg.org (and other places) and download a free classic book, which is about all I read. 

When a person is trying to get back into books, it seems efficacious to read entertaining books, or even books that you've read before or seen a movie of. For instance, I just finished "Last of the Mohicans" and "The Count of Monte Cristo". They fit the program at the moment.

But more important than the mechanics of reading is a change in attitude, such as being less demanding of the author and easier on myself. But patience seems to be the primary virtue when reading. It's something I never really had until recently. Where it came from, I really don't know.

Comments

Bob Giddings said…
"What good are narrow columns? All they do is make your poor ol' eyes do twice as much rastering."

I personally find I am only half conscious when away from the Web. Sometimes this can be restful, a dullness resembling an involuntary nap, but mostly it is frustrating.

An example is when I read your use of "rastering" above. I knew something was wrong with that term, but memory didn't serve until I looked it up. On the web it was just a matter of click and click, but away from a good connection I would have had to find a physical dictionary, which is apt to be many miles away.

In my early fulltiming years, I destroyed two dictionaries bouncing them about the backcountry on the floor of my trailer. Not to mention the insult suffered by the complete works of Shakespeare. Big books get their bindings beaten to pulp when rattling around as cargo. Paperbacks do slightly better because they are so much lighter.

"Rastering" is rendering a digital stream into black and white images. It is done by the computer, not your eyes. I think you are referring to scanning.

In any case, I find broad margins make reading easier. I can focus on at most about 6 or 8 words in a single glance, though often 4 is about right. More than 8 and I have to stop and refocus. Of course we are trained to do that quickly, even unconsciously with most books, because paper is expensive, but electronic ink allows us to experiment with efficiency. That's why I find reading on the Iphone goes rather quickly.

Try it. You may find proceeding straight down a narrow column easier - and certainly faster - than zigzagging back and forth over a wide page, once you get the width right for you.

Pat said…
I read in landscape. What I like most is the dictionary function. With a book I tend to not look up words I don't know. With kindle, it's one tap away.

With kindle you can be thousands of miles from your library, but still check out ebooks. I like that.
Teri said…
You are not the only person that changes the color on their Kindle or reads it horizontally. I'm sure others have figured this out.
Anonymous said…
"But patience seems to be the primary virtue when reading. It's something I never really had until recently. Where it came from, I really don't know."

Perhaps readers' comments are influencing you?

Chris H
Boonie said…
Bob Giddings, yes, I see your point about doing a rapid vertical scan downward, while grabbing 6 words or so in a narrow column. But that sounds like speed-reading, while I'm trying to do patient, unhurried reading.

The eyes are indeed rastering, by the definition of Merriam Webster:
"a scan pattern (as of the electron beam in a cathode-ray tube) in which an area is scanned from side to side in lines from top to bottom"
Frank S. said…
For a free dictionary while reading on computer offline: Google WORDWEB.
It is word active within your book's text or anything else you are reading, like a blog.
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