Here is an article that I have started and stopped several times over the last 9 months. I finally just finished it off and published it here to close things out for 2007.
I was always a book worm when I was a kid and even as a party hard teenager. I’d throw a kegger for the local college when I was sixteen, wake up and go to school and tutor other kids in high school, reading a book in between classes.
When I joined the military, I was required to read two foot tall stacks of intelligence reports each day (that prepared me a little for blogging-we’re talking circa 1993).
But it wasn’t until about 1996 that reading 2.0 came home for me. It happened in the form of an audio book.
While working for the USPS for about 4 years (while attending college full time too), I read hundreds of audio books from the local library, along with my college text books that I read the old fashioned way. I did a lot of data entry work for the USPS, and I only needed my eyes, fingers and a quick reaction time/ short term memory. Audio books helped to keep my brain engaged and prevented me from getting bored.
Last year I re-discovered Dragon Naturally Speaking. I had tried it around version 3 back in the mid 90’s and it didn’t deliver then, but in Version 9 it definitely delivered powerfully workable results. The interesting thing about Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 is that it not only makes things easier on your hands and wrists, but it SIGNIFICANTLY reduces eye strain.
When you talk through a Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 compatible microphone, you often times look at your computer screen less than you would if you were typing. Plus, when you do look at the screen you are not following every letter and word that you are typing, but casually glancing at the phrases. This reduces eye strain and helps your body stay relaxed and work longer with more efficiency.
This reduction of eye strain is also one of the big advantages to reading a book in an audible form. You do not have to look at the pages. You can even close your eyes and relax or look around doing many other tasks. The key is that you can focus your eyes in different directions and distances. When we focus on the same screen at the same distance the work load on our eyes is the equivalent of attempting to holding 2 buckets of water straight out from our body without moving, keeping our arms parallel to the Earth. It is extremely difficult to do, even for the strongest person. Keeping our eyes focused on the same screen for hours is very difficult for the muscles in our eyes as well.
The key to reading and writing 2.0 seems to share the concept that the user interface both on the input and output, reduces the eye strain from the person that is experiencing it. This gives the person more endurance to work (if they choose to work longer), it gives them more energy when they finish work (for playing or spending time with other people) and they both also enable the user to either get more information (output) or provide more information (input) much faster than normal.
Reading and Writing 3.0 will likely change the interface again and move us into an era of brain wave interpretation.