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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Digital Age: Friend or Enemy?

Shooting from the Hip

When the topic of digital publishing comes around, do you throw your hands in the air and run out the back door to let out a primal scream? Do you wax poetic about the feel-goodness of paper pages and the happy weight of a child on your lap, heads together in page-turning bliss?

Me too.  Recent events, however, illuminated the creative usefulness and the “it-isn’t-going-away-ness” of the digital age. I mean the word “Illuminated” literally. On vacation, my family stumbled upon a cave shrouded in darkness. The kids wanted to go in. A dialogue with my husband went like this:

“It would’ve been a good idea,” I mused aloud, “to bring a flashlight.”  

My husband whipped his hand to his hip faster than any cowboy managed a gun in the Wild West.  He said, "Hey! I can use the flashlight app I put on my smart phone!”

In seconds, we had a good look at the dirt in the cave. Not much there. Palpable excitement, however, came from everyone rushing to see the cool feature on the smartphone.

   On another occasion this summer, I watched my niece and nephew, both under 4, cuddle up with their dad --and an iPad.  Typical of their generation, these tots seamlessly moved between technologies as new as e-readers and as old as a box of crayons.
If you write with an audience of children in mind, like I do, it would behoove us to become as acquainted with technology as our growing population of readers.

To see what the hoopla is about I bought an e-reader. While not my favorite way to read, an e-reader has one HUGE advantage for writers: With a click, I've spent money on books. It's just too easy.  

Truth be told, people respond to nifty, new ways of doing the same, old things. With digital publishing comes vast potential for new ways to get our words into the minds of readers—because isn’t the connection with readers our ultimate goal?