I Can’t Believe I’m Doing this Again!

One of the nice things about writing again, is that it doesn’t require a huge monitor.  Therefore, I am not chained to my upstairs office.  I can do it virtually anywhere.  🙂

In our 35 years of marriage, there have been only a few instances when my wife realized what a cleaver fellow I am – maybe three. I think one occurred yesterday.

As you may be aware, I am winding down my career as an educator.  My wife, concerned about identity security, has spent parts of the last couple of days looking for my social security number included in two large file cabinets of documents from 19 years of clients and jobs.  She commented, as we were walking up to North Hills yesterday, that I had accomplished a lot in my years as an independent and been part of some pretty exciting developments in education and technology.

Then she said, “You should write a book about all of this.”  

My reply was simple, the same that I’ve said to colleagues who have recently asked, “So now that you’re not traveling so much, are you going to write a new book?”


“I’m through!  I’m tired!  ..and writing is really hard work for me…”

Yet, this morning, as I woke and lay in bed, my mind was going like it hasn’t in many months, seeming to have realized that in some deep and evil corner of my brain, the decision has been made.  I had an outline written out by 8:30 this morning – for a new book about the history of educational technology.

I really can’t believe that I’m Doing this Again!

Rumors of “Its” Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

That’s my opinion — and by It I mean BOOKS.

On Saturday, I’ll be attending EduBloggerCon in Philadelphia, where the sessions will be of an unconference style. This means that the expert will not he standing in front of the group. Instead, the expertise is expected to come from the group. The facilatator is tasked with generating the conversations that draw that expertise out while minimizing the venting that sometimes erupts.

One issue that frequently comes up is their almost exclusive exposure our learners, in their native info experiences, have to short and independently focused media messages and the highly abbreviated messages that they share with each other. The concern is that millennials are not prepared and are disinclined to tough out longer stories or thoroughly explore deep and complex issues. I have run across research that seems to support these concerns – and I share them.


When I think of my own experiences and my deep love of reading, the idea of the novel’s decline seems so incredibly unlikely that I fear it not even a little. I’m not an addictive personality, but I am addicted to stories. I love and crave long, deep, rich, wet, stories. I hate when they end. I particularly like series. At any time, I have two fictions going, one in audio and the other in print. It’s why I walk two to four miles a day, so I can pick up on my story.

I haven’t always been that way! Have you? I hated to read when I was young. Reading books was work and there was no joy in it. I was not, nor am I now, a strong reader. It’s still work for me. But a good and richly told story, or an intriguing new way of thinking about something (currently reading Visualizing Data by Ben Fry), is more than worth the work, because I grow in the process

Before my Junior year of college, I prefered the pampering delivery of content and stories by network television. But in college, friends and more open-minded teachers introduced me to books that were not on standardized recommended reading list. I discovered the great stories of Arthur C.Clark, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Herman Hesse, and many others and cannot think of a time since when I did not have at least one book with a bookmark in it.

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Now, what got me going down this path this morning (when I should be working on slide deck for ISTE) was my wife’s desire to have a way to easily record the books she is reading along with short personal reviews. I showed her a couple of library services, spending more time on Library Thing, my favorite. Then I started digging a little deeper — further procrastinating my upcoming presentation — and found their Zeitgeist page. It features the fifty largest libraries maintained by readers, fifty most prolific reviewers, twenty-five most reviewed books, seventy-five top authors, and much more — all based on the data generated by users’ use of the service. You can see of their vital statistics to the right. When I look at this, at the people who are not only reading, but wanting to share their reading — well I feel fairly secure in the continuing validity of the bookcases in our home.

– Posted using BlogsyApp from my iPad

Another Solution to the “Textbook Problem”

Well, my vacation is over.  I leave for the airport in a few hours on United Airlines (gear under my arm) for Lexington, Kentucky, by way of Chicago.

It’s been glorious to be at home, enjoying salad lunches and evening walks with Brenda, working into a routine, starting a new book (somebody shoot me), and upgrading Citation Machine — bringing both APA and MLA schemes into compliance with the latests editions of their respective writing manuals.  I’m going back to the speaking regiment without regrets of having wasted my time off — though we really do need to work in a vacation some where, some time.  Dreams of Nova Scotia are falling with the mercury.

Flickr Photo “Melbourne Espresso Book Machine” by Joanna Penn

Just a couple of things I’ve run across in the last few days.  According to a WIRED September 17 article, there are suggestions that we turn Google around and re-print the millions of dusty old books that the search engine company has spent so much time, energy, and argument scanning so that they are digitally available to us over the network.  A number of booksellers have purchased their own $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, capable of printing, on demand, a 300 page book with color cover in about 4 minutes.

That means you can stop into the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont, and for less than $10, custom-order your own copy of Dame Curtsey’s Book of Candy Making, the third edition of which was published in 1920 and which can only be found online for $47.00 used. ((Singel, Ryan. “Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books.” WIRED  17 Sep 2009: n. pag. Web. 18 Sep 2009. <http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/google-books-publish-on-demand/>.))

I wrote about a similar practice in February of 2008 (Reading the Old in the Old Ways of Reading) using any of the on-demand publishing services to print your choice of ancients, and are lots of ways of describing this as a long-tail game-changer.  But I especially like that this technology can enable local bookstores to compete more effectively with Amazon.com.

In a similar vein, I ran across this September 17 USAToday article, This HP Printer doesn’t Need a PC to Print Stuff from he Web. ((Baig, Edward C. “This HP printer doesn’t need a PC to print stuff from the Web.” USAToday 17 Sep 2009: n. pag. Web. 18 Sep 2009. <http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/edwardbaig/2009-09-16-baig-hp-web-printer_N.htm>.))  I can see several worthy niches for a device like this, but what seemed especially exciting was installing a row of these things your textbook storage room.

<sarc>You simply connect to a specially designed widget produced by your textbook publishers, and with the push of the start printing the very latest up-to-date editions of your currently studied chapter of your state board of education adopted science textbook.  If there occurs the discover of a new planetoid orbiting beyond Neptune, then you simply ask your students to toss their chapters on the Solar System and have your school secretary print out new ones.  This just makes too much sense…</sarc>

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