Are digital books changing the way authors write?

Digital Books

A very balanced take on the way digital books are shaping the way books are read and written, in this article. For more than three years now I have been reading digital books and I read paper books only when digital books are unavailable (which rarely is the case these days). Initially I used to read e-books (even when I purchased them from Amazon in Kindle format) on my Samsung tab that was quite outdated. Seeing how much I read my wife motivated me to purchase the Kindle reader.

I read digital books more for the convenience and less for the supposedly positive impact that they have on the environment. The article above talks about how youngsters these days use the same device to read books as well is interact on social media and social networking websites and also use the same device for playing video games, music and movies. This sort of, takes away the exclusivity book reading demands. Book reading is supposed to create a totally different world, segregated from your surroundings. Is this possible with digital books with so much distraction going around? And how does it impact the way writers write, in order to capture as much attention as possible?

Any word in an ebook can invoke its own dictionary definition, simply by selecting it. If a passage in an ebook strikes you as cogent, beautiful or profound you can bet – once you’ve switched the highlight-sharing function on – hundreds of other people have already highlighted it. It’s a short hop from realising that to paying special attention to the highlighted bits – not out of laziness but as a wise learning strategy.

Where I see the problem is that books can be read in almost all the devices. Once you have purchased the Kindle book, for example, you can read it on a tablet, on an iPad, on a phone, on a computer and on a laptop and basically every device that has an operating system and the ability to connect to the Internet. In terms of sales, it must have been profitable for the publishers (as I mentioned above, I had started purchasing Kindle books much before I actually purchased the Kindle reader). But, books should be read on a device that only makes you read books. There should be no distraction. In fact I’m sure, this is how gadgets like Kindle reader were born – to create a digital space where only books are the consumption. There is no social networking. There are no phone calls. There is no instant messaging. There is no notification area. There are no message bubbles. Just pages and pages of the book you’re reading.

Every medium changes the way literature is written and read. This has been going on since the time immemorial. Even before digital books, the way people wrote and read was constantly changing. Just see the way writers like Dickens and Dostoevsky wrote and the way contemporary writers write. Writing styles change. Reading patterns change. This is an ongoing process. Instead of resisting it, we should embrace it, both as writers and as readers.

Having said that, I would insist that there must be separate devices for reading books, just for reading books.

The problem is not with the Hindu-Muslim culture but the secularism racket

Hindu Muslim unity

Every multi-cultural amalgamation gives rise to at least some sort of beauty. I have often written on my blog that the most beautiful and perhaps the most famous Bollywood bhajan Man tarpat hari darshan ko aaj was written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad Ali and sung by Mohammed Rafi. Nobody doubts that the coming together of Hindu-Muslim cultures has given rise to breathtakingly beautiful architecture, poetry to cherish for ever and instances of love and friendship legends are made of. Very few people doubt that.

So when noted Muslim writer Murad Ali Baig says

The fusion of Hindu and Muslim culture during Mughal times is a tradition all Indians could cherish.

Link

nobody should have a problem with that. So what’s the problem?

The problem is the phony secularism that has been thrust down the throats of unsuspecting people of the country in the name of vote bank politics. Minorities in India – mostly Muslims and Christians – are always portrayed as victims and the majority – Hindus – are perpetually portrayed as aggressive perpetrators and majoritarian bigots. They are constantly put on the back foot. This is where the problem arises and this is why the majority population feels cheated and enraged. When different religious communities are treated according to the sort of political benefits that they bring, secularism simply becomes a sham.

The big fuss about porn and its banning by the Indian government

One wonders whether all the fuss about 800+ odd porn websites being banned in India had something to do with the sort of government we have (BJP-led) at the centre or it actually had to do something with freedom of personal choice. After the so-called “furore” by the so-called “liberals” the government is known to have retracted and according to this BBC link, has instructed the Internet service providers to ban just those porn websites that have kids in them.

I find the entire brouhaha stupid at best. All these people chest beating about the porn ban are really worried about personal choice or they are simply ululating because it is the wrong sort of government that has taken the “draconian” step.

Porn is bad and very few people will disagree. It’s not about what is shown, it’s about how most of the porn content is made. This link explains, in all the gory details, how women are treated while making porn movies. They are dehumanised. Most of the male participants and porn filmmakers are women haters. Once these women agreed to act in a porn movie, it’s free game for the producers, directors and the male actors. The women can be raped, they can be beaten, they can be gagged, they can be burned and according to one female actor, one of the women was also disembowelled.

My initiation into porn was a gang rape by five men, arranged by Mr. Traynor. It was the turning point in my life. He threatened to shoot me with the pistol if I didn’t go through with it. I had never experienced anal sex before and it ripped me apart. They treated me like an inflatable plastic doll, picking me up and moving me here and there. They spread my legs this way and that, shoving their things at me and into me, they were playing musical chairs with parts of my body. I have never been so frightened and disgraced and humiliated in my life. I felt like garbage. I engaged in sex acts for pornography against my will to avoid being killed. The lives of my family were threatened.

Most supposedly educated people protested against the porn ban must surely be aware of how most of the porn content is created so it is a safe bet that it was mostly the political agenda that drove them to speak up against the ban. In the name of freedom of choice, it won’t surprise you that one day they will also support the freedom of choice of the ISIS members uploading videos of various beheadings they carry out on weekly basis.

In the wake of the ban, renowned journalist Pritish Nandy tweeted

Although I asked him if he had some data to back his claim but naturally he didn’t respond because these journalists have gotten used to saying anything that comes to their mind because until the arrival of the social media, nobody could question them. But that’s different issue. Recently a survey was carried out among the prostitutes and call girls and more than 99% claimed that their clients often demand weird and dangerous stuff because they had previously seen that stuff in the porn clips. Incidents of minors committing rapes have increased because they see porn videos online and then want to enact those scenes no matter what. So it is highly outrageous and moronic to claim that abundance of porn on the Internet has no significantly negative impact on the society.

Personal freedom, yes it matters and ideally, the government shouldn’t decide what we can watch and what we cannot watch. Even the thought of a dozen snooty babus deciding what we can see on the Internet is cringing. That’s another topic and it has got nothing to do with my aversion to porn websites.

Talking about morality puts people off these days because nobody likes to be lectured upon. But I like what Swapan Dasgupta writes here:

Pornography was always something that was surreptitiously circulated and sold and never for public flaunting. Maybe this was evidence of Victorian double standards or even hypocrisy, but it corresponded to existing cultural mores. The internet disturbed this equilibrium by making pornography available on demand. The sense of social awkwardness that accompanied the ‘consumption’ of pornography in an earlier age was removed by technology. The ban doesn’t put an end to pornography; it restores its deviant status.

Far more disturbing are the objections of those who have linked the ban to a supposed state-sponsored erosion of liberal values. Rather than examine the specific facets of pornography, the government directive has been juxtaposed against a libertarian ideal where the state leaves individual tastes outside any regulatory framework.

The leftist liberals in India are not actually liberal

In India people often get confused between who is liberal and who is not liberal. For example, people with leftist mentality of the like to call themselves liberal. Even people who support political parties like the Congress and to an extent even the casteist parties like the Samajwadi Party without hesitation post about being liberal. In fact, everybody but the people from the Right ideology can call himself or herself liberal without being contradicted.

Liberalism, as this article by Mehnaz Merchant rightly says, is about being open to all thoughts, lifestyles and ideologies, whether you personally agree with them or not.

Who exactly is a liberal? The first rule of liberalism is tolerance to different points of view. The second rule? Openness. The third: rejection of feudalism, casteism and communalism.

How do our politicians and opinion-makers fare when we apply these criteria? Most Indian Left-leaners call themselves liberals. But the Left is a didactic ideology. It resists change. It brooks no ideological dissent. India’s Left politicians still hanker after the Soviet economic model which has been discredited by every country except North Korea. Even China, the Indian Left’s old lodestar, has embraced free markets since 1979 when Deng Xiaoping changed the course of Chinese economic history.

In 1979, still under economic controls, Chinese GDP was $ 182 billion. Indian GDP in 1979 was $ 227 billion.

Cut to 2015.

Chinese GDP is $11.21 trillion, Indian GDP $2.31 trillion.

Blossoming Roses – my story on Wattpad

While going through my folders I came across a set of short stories that I wrote many years ago. They have just been lying around on my computer so decided to put them on Wattpad one by one.

I heard the wind blowing through the trees as I rounded the bend that led to her house. Her house was not difficult to find, as on that road, for miles, there was only one house, hers – she had told on the phone. Massive, saint-like “Bargads” bowed and danced as if in a trance, shaking off excess leaves that swirled in little eddies. Occasionally a twig drifted down, startling me out of my reverie. I could see her house now across the barley field, covered with the golden rays of the late-afternoon sun; the door seemed open. She was expecting me? I, as usual was running late. But that was according to my plan. I hadn’t informed her that I was coming that day.

Read the full story on Wattpad.