The Test of a Small Screen

Posted: March 6, 2012 in what makes us tick
Tags: , , ,

Generally I adopt new tech very quickly. If something makes my life more convenient and is reasonably priced, I start using it right away. The most notable exception to this rule has been ebook reading. Although using ebooks and carrying an entire library with you beats paper books hands down when it comes to convenience, there is still something very special about reading a paper book. It’s the feel of holding it in your hands, turning its pages, feeling the texture of the paper. Ebooks don’t give you that. They are too impersonal. At least this has been the case for me until very recently.

But suddenly everything has changed. I’ve discovered an advantage of ebook that paper books cannot match. And it has nothing to with convenience. Try this: take any book and read a few pages of it on your phone. Not your Kindle. Phone. If you haven’t done this before, it may feel awkward at first. The pages are just too small and have enough room only for a few sentences on that screen. But that’s the point.

The small screen makes you see the text for what it really is. Meaningless words cannot hide anymore behind their more meaningful neighbours. If the text is full of fluff, your eye, trained for years to glance over it, no longer has this option. You are forced to read it — or turn the tiny pages so frequently that the process becomes tedious very soon. Every sentence, every word that’s been included into the text to hide its lack of clarity or substance is visible now. The text stands naked in front of you and has no place to hide.

A small screen shows the you integrity of the book — or lack thereof. It’s that quality that some of us seek in people and only few of us are lucky to discover. This quality is rare and not everyone wants to find it — or even deal with it — but those who do, know what I mean. Not many many books would pass the text of a small screen. Some well known titles would fail it miserably, while others, less famous and promoted, may show depth and clarity that may be overlooked easily in a larger format. And once you find a book like this, you’re in for a treat.

Wish it was that easy with people.

  1. …Ooooh I’m gonna read it on my phone!

    With people… ? Just look ’em in the eye…it tells U all that U need 2 know


  2. Dawn says:

    You know I love books but I’ve had a really hard time going to an eReader. Ive tried using Kindle on the iPod and just cant do it. Even on the larger screen of the iPad there are fewer words on the screen. It takes much longer for me to read on these devices, particularly when it’s something I must read versus something I want to read. Maybe this is why.

    Your analogy of books and people make sense. There are millions of books and sometimes the best ones get overlooked because the cover is unappealing and they end up dumped in the bargain bin. Similarly we overlook some of the best people simply because we skim only over the outside and don’t take time to find out what’s inside.


  3. That makes so much sense and I’ve tried reading books on the phone and perhaps they’re books that aren’t worth the time but what I miss most is being able to bookmark pages and highlight passages quickly. Also, the screen seems to be more straining on the eyes especially if most of the day is spent doing computer work. Since The Fountainhead is so dense, i’ll likely try re-reading it electronically per your suggestion. Does this change of heart mean you’d be open to trying out a relationship with some supposed highly emotive robot? Bad joke, I know:)


  4. Sunshine says:

    Just like food, a book no matter how big or small, electronic or paper bound, hard cover, soft cover…it’s the quality of word combinations and how they fit into the whole story and what they give the reader. Books teach, open the imagination, make us laugh, make us cry, take us far away to another land in another’s life or make us dream of what we want to do with what we learn…they bring people out to see in a whole new way. Like you, Unmaskd, I prefer a real book with paper pages easily torn that I can hold in my hands. I guess that’s why they say, curl up with a good book…you just can’t do that with a phone or tablet because it doesn’t have the same feel but either way, it is the content that matters. And with people, well, they’re just like books in my opinion and even if it’s a worn out book, that is the most treasured of all.

    I was inspired by my sister when she came to visit. She buys a new Bible every year because by the end of one year, it is so tattered and torn with notes in the margins that she has to buy a new one…I thought gosh, I only have one from when I was a kid that looks a little bit like that and just seeinig her Bible inspired me to read it more so that I could attain the type of knowledge she has…but still, even inspired by her, I don’t read it as often as I’d like and it sits on my bedside table collecting dust.

    I am a sucker for autographed books too–those are my top shelf books being honored by having met the person who wrote a book that I look forward to reading or have read, but then in wanting to preserve it and not damage it, I feel as if I shouldn’t take it off the shelf. I think I’m going to start adding some tender care to my top shelf books and enjoy them…isn’t that what they’re for? I just have to make sure they remain intact and in good condition without having to replace them after a year by caring for them in such a way that the specialness of having met the author who wrote to me a personal note or a signature on the first page keeps them extra special.

    Why get something if you’re not going to open it like the things I think I need or want and end up not even opening them sometimes for months or using them until years later because I don’t have time to delve into them. I am finally learning how to live life inside and outside of a book and it means to live fully without hesitation.

    Excuse me, I need to go check out my top shelf quality special books and see what I have been missing all these years.


  5. Sunshine says:

    I have new insight on this post today as if your tumblr posts point and say go back and re-examine that post. Nice touch with the correlating meaningful words on the small screen photo from “The Fountainhead”. I see what you mean now…a small screen forces you to see the content of each sentence, not glancing over the book as a whole reading quickly, but taking time to understand each sentence as an entity in it’s own, revealing it’s true depth, then understanding the whole book better by clearly seeing the substance at it’s core, individual sentence upon sentence revealing it’s depth–unmasked words that cannot hide between other sentences because they stand alone, raw, organic, nakedly exposed, revealing itself to the perceptive depth seeking mind that desires to understand more than the big picture. Content in a book and in people is not just the title or the cover and not the book or person as a whole, but the true treasure is found in the little parts observed and discovered that show the soul of the art or person that many never take the time to understand and find in the book or a person. I think lyrics and poetry are often read on a small screen, but still the reader does not always grasp the core until the words reveal themselves to the reader/listener. Lyrics recently opened up to me on several songs as if I saw them in a whole new way and their depth was revealed–it was almost magical. What an exciting observation you made–thanks for sharing your discovery–I agree 100% with your point!


    • Unmaskd says:

      >> but taking time to understand each sentence as an entity in it’s own, revealing it’s true depth, then understanding the whole book better by clearly seeing the substance at it’s core, individual sentence upon sentence

      Yes. That’s exactly what I mean.


  6. Sunshine says:

    Today on the radio I heard a song I hadn’t much considered the lyrics to outside of it’s intended context of the Tin Man singing, “If I Only Had A Heart”. The singer Jesse Ruben sang the words to acoustic guitar and made the listener consider what missing a ticker feels like with hope to some day receive the missing part. In hearing that song, it made me think of this post of yours along with the one about taking things out of context as well as the one about feeling hollow. That song was taken to the small screen level by taking it out of it’s intended context and personalizing it for the listener to really grasp the heart of the song. I also thought about the same melody being used in “The Wizard of Oz” for the Scarecrow singing, “If I Only Had A Brain” and “If I Only Had The Nerve” sung by the Lion wanting courage. Then, in all that I thought about your posts pertaining to thinking and courage. Maybe we all just need to think, use our hearts and have courage as we travel down the yellow brick road journeying through life in our dreams to realize we’ve never really gone anywhere and remained where we were all along during and after the storm. Unless a person challenges oneself to rebuild the damage of the storm, we all wake up one day and realize we are living inside the home we never truly left and we are heartless, thoughtless and cowardly because we didn’t live outside of our dreams to see the truth of life. The dream of searching escape or fulfillment may have become more colorful, but it really is no different than the gray reality of home to varying degrees playing the same tune with different words.


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