On Wednesday, Apple's secrecy-clad chief Steve Jobs will unveil a new gadget, a tablet computer that he's been said to have called "the most important thing I've ever done." Depending on who you ask, the magic tablet will either deliver a new way to read the written word, or it'll be a way to watch videos on a clipboard-like device bigger than an iPhone and more manageable than a laptop.
In 2008 Jobs famously blurted out, "People don't read anymore." A remark which Apple fanboys took to mean: Steve's going to bring back reading!
I never thought I would get paid to write for a living, which I do. But
we no longer read like we used to. I have a writing career because I
annoyingly tweet my articles to my followers and email friends
constantly with links to my own and other people's content.
maximize strategy and monetize my personal brand and live out who knows
This is because the platforms upon which we engage
with text-based communication have changed. The information revolution
of comments, because there's money in
getting commenters to constantly reload a page in order to fawn over their own
Thanks to the wanton refusal of tech
platforms and media companies to come to any sort of manageable
agreement on what a viable new media business model may look like,
entire subsections of the writerly class are or soon will be out of
I'm guilty, too. The Weekly now has a long-form
journalism club, something one of our particularly short form-skeptical
staff writers whipped up. We are a group made up of more talent than
hustle, and convene today in the afternoon in order to discuss a 2006
Esquire piece on the Chechen terrorist takeover of a school in Beslan.
In actuality, I'll spend an hour image-searching "lemurs" on
Google instead of reading the article. Of those of us who actually
click the story link, half will skim it, read the headline, search for
keywords and then scroll down to the comments. Why read the long part
in the middle? We'll bullshit our way through by filling in the gaps in
our reading with a bunch of pseudo-intellectual talk we learned in
So if Steve really gives a flying fsck about
this new Internet-driven literacy, tomorrow's tablet will first and
foremost be an invention that intends to bring back reading. Because if
it turns out to be just another way to download apps or catch up on Jersey Shore, I'm getting an engineering degree.