A few days ago I picked up a copy of 1843 a new “culture, lifestyle and ideas” magazine, published bi-monthly by The Economist. I am an avid reader of The Economist, so I was excited to pick this new magazine up. Yes, it was the print one, I like my magazines, I like them in paper form, I like the shiny pages, the smell, the ads that are posted throughout that do not pop up, blink or make strange sounds, which you can only get from a print magazine.
And before anyone asks, I am under 40 (just…) and do not wear bifocals. I cannot be alone on this! I love technology and use it everyday for business, I consider myself tech savvy. But there is this joy which you get from walking into a bookstore and walking out with something tangible, that is not data in a cloud.
So fast forward as I am reading the magazine on page 124, the deputy editor Jonathan Beckman had the most interesting article covering what can only be referred to as speed reading apps, crossed with Coles Notes. Sort of Joe Friday, “just the facts ma’am” snippet apps. A Readers Digest version of longer books that someone does not have the time or will to read and would like to have a shortened summary version of the work.
My first thought was, oh where were you my whole life in school, then I realized I had that… It was called Coles Notes, abstracts, and for law, headnotes….Except they were in print, you had to buy them, or go find them in a library. But, either way they were a lifesaver in the research phase of something. They could not be your stand alone source, but they made digesting and framing large amounts of information easier, they allowed you to sort out what you needed and did not need to read.
Jonathan covered several of the apps available but the one that stood out to me was Joosr. Joosr promises to allow you to read the ‘most inspiring’ non fiction titles in under 20 mins. They have a library of over 250 titles. Essentially Joosr provides summaries of books, summarizing the concepts of the longer book for people to enjoy.
This has left me with several questions, can you really glean the knowledge of the book from someone else’s idea? Often in non fiction, what you get from the book is constructed from the sum of your life’s experience, your perspective and attitude. You apply that to the information you are reading and synthesize that information from your perspective.
One of the shortened books is “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work”, John Gottman, I chuckled out loud at this particular title. I can picture it “Honey I am home, I listened to the shortened version of this on the way home tonight during my commute, I think I have this down pat now”, oy nothing could go wrong here.
These types of book are the ones I wonder about. There would be a natural bias from the person who is doing the summarizing, It’s not intentional. The person summarizing is reading the book, then applying their perspective based on their life experiences. What do you cut? Something has to be shortened. How do you interpret and summarize that concept? If 10 people were to read the same book cover to cover, they would each likely have different parts that resonated to them. No two people experience the same book the exact same way.
What do you think?
For me, I know that I although I love to surf the web and read a good article or blog, and that I enjoy using apps like GoodReader to digest and annotate PDF’s; I still much prefer my print book or magazine, a cup of coffee and a fire to read beside, then an electronic version. Maybe I am old-fashioned…