Editorial – April 2018: ‘We read books, so you don’t have to’ Scariest words you’ll ever read.

April 2, 2018 | By | 2 Replies More

‘We read books, so you don’t have to’

Scariest words you’ll ever read.

Hello everyone

There’s been a lot of speculation that serious reading is dying out. I presume they mean the paper or celluloid variety but still some sort must still be going on over the Internet unless everything is going emoji and only reading star ratings. Maybe not but at least on-line where so much is scanned than properly read, it’s easy to get into a bad habit of not reading properly which I think is. With the amount of text we do on SFC, I think I can presume I’m communicating with a generation that still likes to read.

At least, I hope so. I presume you’re not reading the opening and last line of each paragraph which is the old speed-reading trick that misses out the content. I haven’t heard of anyone doing much of that lately. I read about that in my teens and found I was even faster reading everything. Nor are you looking for words that stand out that link someone else. Good thing I don’t go the caps route or you’d think I was shouting. Hopefully, you’re hanging on my every word and reading properly and not relying on TXT with no vowels. Tht lks slly.

Even so, that’s one aspect of the future that no SF author has ever considered…well, at least not consciously, is that everyone is going to give up reading books in any format. After all, who would write books if that happened? Saying that, when was the last time you read any recent SF story where the characters in it read or even quoted from a book? That isn’t just in our genre, but other genres as well. Fictional characters don’t have time to read books and they all mostly seem to have the same level of education. Although I doubt it was ever done intentionally and that there has never been any subconscious triggers to induce people not to read. Granted that in an adventure, stopping for a quick read isn’t likely to happen but there’s usually some place to show that they have some rest time.

However, with so much of our lives mimicking fiction, should we be surprised that reading books might become a thing of the past? At least for some people. I do hope it’s not completely widespread or we will lose our literacy.

If not literature and non-fiction, then there is far more evidence that people are using the Internet as their memory storage than learning anything. After all, why memorise something that is only a button press away? Even so, without the knowledge of what you’re looking for, how do you find it? If the teachers come up from the same, how would they get their knowledge? More likely rely on a syllabus created before this change. This could even make a good Science Fiction plot except it might be happening for real. Do we really want to be the last generation with some sort of formal education where we actually use our brains? A person without knowledge can be easily manipulated by business and government and ‘1984’ would have arrived, albeit a couple decades late but within the SF reality we currently live in. Is that the price of free will? We weren’t coerced into it but went voluntarily??!!

What would really happen though? I mean, celebrity currently rules the Net. Although the Net is supposed to be clear of government controls, I doubt everyone believes that when the likes of the NSA monitors Internet traffic. They might not analyse all the information they collect but they bring a different dimension to back-up. Need I also remind you all of the advertising manipulation of the social websites recently? It isn’t difficult to manipulate people. It’s rather too easy and you don’t need that many of a population to do it with in democratic societies. The same applies to the government controlled hackers. Those who control the information you receive can change what you believe if you can’t tell what is real or fake? Think about that when your country’s server denies you access to other legitimate websites across the world. I’ve mentioned that before I’ve come across such things in the past although a quick check recently has found that changed but only a little. Even so, some countries, including democracies, sometimes in the name of copyright, don’t allow world-wide access and I doubt it’s done to protect their citizens but to keep free information out. Even so, if the likes of the Dark Net is out there, what else is hidden from the normal gaze?

The Internet might not have been developed for such things but it’s so flexible that it can be bent to any company or government’s wishes, even to the point of keeping other country’s info out as witnessed by the likes of China. Knowledge is not only power but denial, especially without knowing its being denied, even more so.

While I was writing this editorial, I did start to wonder if there was anything the Internet didn’t have. It doesn’t have infinite knowledge but relies on the information put into it and if it isn’t there, then there are gaps. Using the Net to solve mathematical problems still depends on how much knowledge you have to work out what you need. Unless, for example, you can tell the differences between the various triangles you’d be sunk. Last year, I solved a trigonometry problem for my brother simply from my knowledge of imaginary numbers and that any splitting the larger triangle would still give the same angle in a smaller triangle. You would be hard pushed to do that or find it without the right knowledge or how to discriminate.

I doubt if knowledge will stay free on the Net if that’s the only source. People do need to eat and you will end up having to pay them for their knowledge or access their websites. Think about on-line TV and so forth. It’s already happening. True, a lot of sites have sunk from lack of funding that way but that won’t happen forever. Once you get into the habit of relying on paying for what you want on the Net, free websites become suspect not the norm and trust is thrown out the window.

If you relied on Google to find the relevant photos of a particular subject, how many of the other photos do you have to wade through and can you tell the difference. If anything, there is too much misinformation and without knowing your subject you are likely to be misdirected or give the wrong knowledge. The Internet might be developing AIs but when it comes to discerning knowledge, they have a long way to go, especially when it’s based on popular hits than relevance or truthfulness. Then, what the hey, who’s going to want to look up anything anymore or even when you do, not know who is telling you about it? ‘Ignorance is bliss’ is surely likely to turn into the most accepted slogan.

Discerning knowledge from opinion, let alone from bias or advertising promo is going to make choice harder to make. It’s crazy enough now but is likely to get worse when all you’re going to rely on is a star merit system that you have no knowledge on what it is based on to deserve all the stars. It’s also rather weird when comparing similar items on, say, the long river website, where there is someone who thinks anything made of plastic is fragile is on every choice of camera you want to buy.

All of this is lost with the knowledge that grows from reading a lot. Well, perhaps not as much as me. As a reviewer, I read a lot more than normal and certainly with non-fiction my background knowledge tends to look for flaws but that grows with time and knowing what I am reading. To not learn anything is to not know anything. Don’t you find that unsettling?

How do we fight back? Now that is a tough question, mostly because many will say how can one voice or comment or review make a difference? Are you swayed more by good or bad reviews in your buying options? They all add up and can certainly out-number some of the, shall we say, unhelpful comments out there when people think they are obliged to say something even if doesn’t help at all. However, the more we counter by acknowledging reading and knowledge, the more we remind the next generation that they can’t afford to lose it.

Above all, just don’t rely on the Internet for everything when it comes to news and knowledge. We do that and there won’t be a Science Fiction future to look forward to. Well, there will be but it will be a dystopian one which would be rather frightening. Far more scarier, it won’t be one we that’s even been done in SF and there won’t be a renaissance man from the past or a time traveller to explain what the good old days, earlier in this century was like. More likely, such a person will be very similar to the people of the future. It’s almost tempting to work out how a story like that would work. The truly stupid leading the even more stupid. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone would believe such a story. Do we really want a reality like that to happen and have no way back? Do we want to live inside a horror story with no renaissance man or woman to bring us back?


Thank you, take care, good night and remember, every book we read is our way of fighting back.


Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info


A Zen thought: Life is material. It can’t be any other fabric.


What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Probably knowing the above editorial already.


Observation: Ever had your JPGs on-line randomly look like they’ve been put through a green filter or even blacked out? I don’t know if this applies to all video-cards, but try updating the drivers. The simplest way for those who don’t know is to go into the Control Panel, select Driver Manager and then Display Manager. If you have a dedicated video-card, like a Radeon, select it and then tell it to update the drivers and see if it makes a difference. You might not even have to update.

            Mind you, it’s not perfect even then but better than doing nothing.


Feeling Stressed: There’s another 9 months yet.




Category: Offworld Report, World getting weirder

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Michelle Wilbye says:

    In reference to the first sentence in your third paragraph, I refer you to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451….



    PS…trying to make space in my life for reviews. Current score: Life 2 Shell 0


    I’ll keep working on it.

    • UncleGeoff says:

      Hello Shell

      That’s a very good point but its the only book but when a future society is determined to destroy books, it would be hard to avoid them.

      Now, repeat after me: I don’t need a social life. I don’t need to sleep. I just like to fill my spare time with books and read them all the time.
      Works for me.


Leave a Reply