Procrastination

I wait until Sunday

to write papers due Monday.

I type away, stating nothing,

empty words I call “study.”

We all do this thing,

called “Procrastinating.”

If you say you don’t,

that’s bullshit and crazy.

For some of my best poetry and writing, please purchase “Accounts from the Asylum” on Kindle.

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You know what I like most about my Kindle Fire HD?

The ability to read books in the dark.

(Also, I’ve been whining way too much about my lack of finances. 

The fact is that, despite being quite poor relative to some Americans, I am still wealthy compared to the average citizen of planet Earth. The average person on this planet doesn’t have a fucking Kindle. Or a 44 inch television. Or central air and heat. Or a smartphone.

So, this is me shutting up about how poor I am.

Until I can’t make the rent.)

Although digital platforms for written content have recently “exploded,” author Ben Mezrich warns that websites like Amazon could spell the demise of traditional book publishing as we know it.

Considering the very clear stakes for publishers in Amazon’s current dispute with Hachette Book Group regarding the flexibility of e-book prices, how do authors fit into the puzzle?

“Writing just books is very hard now. Making a living writing books has changed dramatically,” he told HuffPost Live host Josh Zepps. “That battle going on right now is terrifying for authors because the bottom line is if you commodify books, to the degree that it’s just like a lawnmower or just like something else, what is the value of a book? And nobody really has an answer to that question.”

But the struggle isn’t so black and white. While writers may not directly benefit from Amazon’s low e-book prices, the website, which is one of the biggest book retailers, is invaluable in reaching a mass audience that publishers no longer effectively target.

“Amazon, when it works, is a phenomenal thing for writers,” Mezrich said. “Writers make more money off their Kindle sales than they do off their books right now… The question is, what happens if that price [per Kindle sale] goes all the way down to 99 cents?”

Watch the full HuffPost live interview with Ben Mezrich here.

Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing

Photo: A commuter reads on a Kindle e-reader while riding the subway in Cambridge, Mass. Neuroscience says the way his brain treats reading on the Kindle is different than the way the brain processes the newspaper next to him.

Would you like paper or plasma? That’s the question book lovers face now that e-reading has gone mainstream. And, as it turns out, our brains process digital reading very differently.

Manoush Zomorodi, managing editor and host of WNYC’s New Tech City, recalls a conversation with the Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald, who’s researched the effects of reading on a screen. “He found, like I did, that when he sat down to read a book his brain was jumping around on the page. He was skimming and he couldn’t just settle down. He was treating a book like he was treating his Twitter feed,” she says.

Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards “non-linear” reading — a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page.

“They call it a ‘bi-literate’ brain,” Zoromodi says. “The problem is that many of us have adapted to reading online just too well. And if you don’t use the deep reading part of your brain, you lose the deep reading part of your brain.”

So what’s deep reading? It’s the concentrated kind we do when we want to “immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document,” Zoromodi says. And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer. “Dense text that we really want to understand requires deep reading, and on the internet we don’t do that.”

Linear reading and digital distractions have caught the attention of academics like Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.

“I don’t worry that we’ll become dumb because of the Internet,” Wolf says, “but I worry we will not use our most preciously acquired deep reading processes because we’re just given too much stimulation. That’s, I think, the nub of the problem.”

To keep the deep reading part of the brain alive and kicking, Zomorodi says that researchers like Wolf recommend setting aside some time each day to deep read on paper.

And now that children are seemingly growing up with a digital screen in each hand, Wolf says it’s also important that teachers and parents make sure kids are taking some time away from scattered reading. Adults need to ensure that children also practice the deeper, slow reading that we associate with books on paper.

“I think the evidence someday will be able to show us that what we’re after is a discerning ‘bi-literate’ brain,” Wolf says. “That’s going to take some wisdom on our part.”

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