Friday, August 29, 2014

A Change in Media

My friend, Mary Black, is writing a prehistoric fiction book about a tribe in the Pecos Valley. To me the one thing I've been most fascinated with is the true archeological information that Mary has been privy to (being married to an archeologist has its advantages!) and how Mary has woven that information into her story. Being a lover of stories of all kinds, I especially have found intriguing is the rock art found in that location and the stories that have lasted for generations.

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Over time we've seen the way people transmit information has changed dramatically. In the ancient days communication was through song, dancing and oral language. Then we found evidence of a written word or codes, sculpture, art, architecture and carvings.

Music, art and different global languages have made communication across generations and throughout our world easier to understand and access. Sadly, some languages have died and some will simply never be used again.
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I'm seeing the same thing happening in how communication in just the last 70 years has changed. My father enjoyed telling the family stories about how he and his grandfather used to listen to baseball games on the radio. As a young man he was witness to the first televisions being mass produced. I still remember, as a little girl, when our television would "break" and my father would take the back off of the television set and take some fuses or bulbs out and we'd go to a hardware store or electronics store and Dad would get replacement parts to fix our television. Even though I'm only 51 years old, I actually remember our family getting a color television set! That was so exciting!

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Another huge change in communication was from the written word going from being hand-lettered, to produced with movable type (the first printing presses) -- which were both labor intensive and very expensive -- to the first typewriters (manual), then electric typewriters (I had a Brother typewriter given to me as a high school graduation gift which was the envy of most of the girls in my dorm because it had a little strip of white-out which could be used when we typed mistakes!) to the first personal computers (I actually had Apple computers first and then got one of the first Macintosh computers -- which seemed so sophisticated!

When I wrote my first book, I typed it on a Macintosh computer. In fact, all of my books have been produced on Apple products. Aside from the huge change in the size of the computers, the memory and storage capacity, the power of the computers and the portability of the computers, I think the change I have most witnessed is the software that can be used on the computers.

When I wrote my first book, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome: A Handbook for Parents, I produced the book with a word processing program called Appleworks. By the time I put together My Brother Needs an Operation and The Heart of a Mother, I was required to submit the books as PageMaker files. When I did my last book, The Heart of a Father, I sent a PDF file to the printer. I never would have guessed that things would change so quickly!

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Now I'm getting ready to take all of my books into the electronic realm. Just having a PDF isn't good enough. Your book has to be able to be accessed on smart phones, tablets and computers. This requires yet something else -- and that's what I'll be learning about in the coming weeks. I don't expect it to be too difficult, but it will be another thing I have to learn. I'll be using my old Macintosh G4 and its Zip Drive to create a Word Document -- if that's at all possible given the operating system on my Mac and the requirements for CreateSpace and SmashWords.

I'm excited to see how things have changed over time. I can't wait to see what's next! I only hope I'm around long enough to jump in at the beginning and that my grandchildren won't think I'm a dinosaur!

I hope all of my readers have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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