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I think I prefaced over this last weekend that I wasn’t going to have a theme with this entry in mind.
I started college as a geology major. Somewhat obviously, I didn’t stick with it, but it’s still a great interest of mine.
Some of you know and some of you don’t that I have an MFA in Creative Writing. So a lot of my so-called “personal” reading is actually keeping up on that end of things for me.
And to combine both interests, I recently read Threshold, by Caitlin R. Kiernan. It’s very much in a genre I used to write–a pseudo-magical realism, if magical realism in literature could be divorced from its Latin American roots (which it can’t be, really). It starts out gritty, modern, and then wanders gently into science, myth, urban legend, and a particular superstitious nature you find in the south.
But my main point in addressing the experience of reading this book was the following passage, voiced by our narrator, Chance, who was in college as a geology major at the time:
“Can you think of anything else I could do with my life that could ever possibly be half this splendid, half this important? I’m learning to read, Deke, and not just the handful of things men have been around long enough to write down. The history of the whole damned planet is written in rocks, just lying there waiting for us to learn how to read the words.” – p. 177
It’s this urge that drives me, strangely enough, in my current work as well.
I’m learning to read in a larger sense than I’ve ever read so far. And to some extent this was an evolution: I did, after all, start on email quite awhile ago, then moved to forums, then Livejournal, then Blogger, then Facebook/MySpace, then Twitter, and Google Reader and the big feeds (Slashdot, BoingBoing, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, etc) got stuck in there somewhere too (and I may be skipping steps, of course: on the multimedia end, Flickr and YouTube are two examples, but I’m talking about text here, in the main).
But in terms of an educated and informed community that I can have face-to-face contact with and shares my academic/work interests, this is a first (which might be, I might add, because my college/grad work had little to do with technology). Not just casual friends giving updates on their lives, but I get a touch of friendliness and personality alongside the theory.
So I get these fantastic ideas as well as the context surrounding them: the problems that were faced to prompt them to come up with these ideas. It’s good stuff.
But larger than that, and for a longer period of time, I’ve been learning to read people and their interaction with technology; learning to read the evolution of society due to technology’s influence; learning to read how technology is changing our minds and changing our spaces.
I’m reading the future. I’ve already learned to read the past.
So between geology and tech, I feel like I’ve got the span of things.1 And while this current tech iteration is more minute than an atom in a drop in a bucket in terms of geologic time, it’s monumental for us living in it.
And I get to read it. And better yet, write some of it.