Here's the thing. I clicked on the link. I went to the site. I suddenly realised that the video was EIGHTY SIX MINUTES LONG. And my first response was, "hell, no, I don't have time to spend eighty four minutes sitting here watching a video..." and then I started watching it, and it was all about how much harder it is getting for the cyber-generations (I am, as someone pointed out in the video, an immigrant to this nation, having come to it as an adult but there are natives - kids of 4, 5 years old who are practically BORN knowing how to use a mouse and cannot imagine a world without WiFi) to concentrate on something LONG, something FOCUSED, something that doesn't necessitate having three or four windows open on the screen. I was suddenly aware of a serious and almost physical response when, in the midst of the presentation, there was a "ping" that told me that a new email had landed in my inbox... and of how hard it was, how close I came to admitting it was almost physically IMPOSSIBLE, not to simply bounce over into my email client and just *check*, quickly, you know. Multitasking.
I can do it. We can all do it.
And we can quit any time.
I've quite a bit to think about, from this. And it connects up (does EVERYTHING, in the last few days?...) to the e-book kerfuffle and the future of publishing and of reading. Because THESE are the kids who will grow up to be both writers and readers, these kids in the video who are going to schools where learning is accomplished by video game, these kids who probably could not sit down and get lost in a good book if the world depended on it, like I used to when I was their age, because their brains are already differently wired right now from what mine must have been back then. As a writer, as a teller of complex tales, I find myself mourning that, a little. And yet, being cyberminded myself NOW, I can completely understand it.
Perhaps that is where we are going with this. Perhaps the next generation of books are not going to be physical objects at all. They are going to be fully interactive experiences, where you'd put on a "book" and immerse yourself in it in full Sensurround... or even Star Trek's famous holodeck.
I can't help wondering when that world is coming. I can't help wondering if I will still be around if and when it arrives. And I can't help wondering, a little fearfully, if half-cyber creatures like me will have a place in it at all or whether it's going to be a place where my own slower dreams and memories of an older and slower world is going to be superceded and discarded.
I wonder if the next generation, or the one after that, will be in a position of sitting in a cyber-world next to a cyber-river where cyber-sunlight glitters off the surface of the cyber-water in cyber-sparkles... and never stopping to miss the reality of the real riverside, or the fact that somebody, somewhere, once used actual WORDS to paint that picture inside someone else's head, words which painted the sunlight on the water with a lyrical power. WIll we lose the individuality of that vision (read a scene that I wrote about sunlight on water and I'll be thinking about the Danube, and you'll be thinking about the Mississippi, and that guy over there will be thinking about the Volga, or the Amazon, or the Nile. If all of us were sitting in that cyber-image of the river... we're all seeing the absolutely same thing, and there will be no way for any of us to imagine anything other, bigger, better, uglier, wilder, richer, darker, brighter - anything that belongs to ourselves alone and to no other mind in quite the same way.
That's why I write - because painting those pictures in words, taking people to places which may be QUITE different in their own heads to the places I was seeing when I was writing the scene, that's something... huge. It's breathtaking. It's a relationship between me and a stranger's mind, and across that river, that reader sitting on the bank of one and me sitting on the bank of quite another, we can still stretch out our hands and touch across that common water...
Eh. It's been a long day, and I'm rambling.
But let me ask you this.
What kind of world are YOU living in...?