One Book, Two Book, E-Book, True Book

October 29, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Joe Richardson

On any day of the week, Half Price Books on Northwest Highway in Dallas is full of people, wandering through the shelves looking for a new book. Throughout the large bookstore, people sit in chairs and on the floor, their faces buried in pages.

Kris Kiker, a manager at the store, stood in the middle of aisles and aisles of second hand books one day recently. His favorite book is Hells Angles by Hunter S. Thompson. He enjoys the access to different worlds offered by books.

“I get to experience new things,” he said. “I can experience new ideas, new places, and times that I’ll never be able to experience first hand.”

The people here are book lovers. But with advancements in technology and a general lack of interest in reading, the printed book may become a relic of the past.

People are reading less, and those that do read are reading in brand new formats. But there will always be books.

A study done by the National Endowment for the Arts found that Americans are not reading as much as they used to. In 2002, 65 percent of college freshmen read only an hour a week or less for pleasure.

That same study found that comprehension skills have declined, and that “these declines have serious civic, social, cultural, and economic implications.”

But there will always be “books”. iPads, Kindles, and Nooks are rapidly replacing printed books. Screens may begin to dominate and some are optimistic about the change.

In a 2010 study, the Pew Research Center found that within ten years “There will be a new fluidity in media creation. Visual representations and story telling will be important in new ways, so ‘screen’ literacy will emerge.”

Nina Schwartz, the chair of the English department at Southern Methodist University, sits in front of a backdrop of books everyday. Fiction and nonfiction are placed side by side, and her bookshelves were a focal point of her large office. She said that a world without reading would be a depressing and a less rich place.

“Literature is a way of accessing imaginative worlds that are richer than reality,” she said. “To lose literature would be a serious impoverishment of the world.”

Jasper Neel, an English professor at Southern Methodist University, was also surrounded by shelves of books in his office. He believes that the face of reading is changing and that soon books will all be digital.

“I can have five times the number of books on these shelves,” he said. “If I have a database, every book in the world can be at my fingers.”

But Joseph Mason, a manager of Borders bookstore in Dallas, believes that printed books will always be around. He thinks that people will always love to rifle through actual pages.

“The format may change, but books will never go away,” he said. “People will always read.”

Vincent Kelly, a freshman at Dallas Baptist University, is genuinely worried about the future of books. While he sits on a couch in his college dorm, he thinks back to the first “grown up” book he read. It was “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

He spends so much time staring at a computer; that an actual printed book provides an escape for him.

“I’m all for going green,” he said, “but there’s something about physically turning the page that will never be replaced.”

Reading has more to compete with now than it ever has. The noise of technology has become the background of everyday life.

The study done by the National Endowment for the Arts also found that 58 percent of middle and high school students use other media while reading.
Schwartz is sometimes nervous about the state of reading today, but she realizes that people aren’t giving up on reading. They are just reading in different ways.

“It isn’t that students don’t read, it’s that they read in different ways like iPads and Kindles,” she said. “I wish people today would have more patience to read slowly and to read literature they’re not familiar with.”

Neel believes that people are reading more now than in the past. He also said that they read in different ways and the texts might become shorter. But he feels that it is impossible for a literate society to not read.

“Once you become literate that’s a one way street,” he said. “I do believe that the phenomenon of literacy changes a preliterate or illiterate person.”

Stephanie Trout, a manager at Barnes and Noble booksellers on Northwest Highway in Dallas, does not see a decrease in reading.

“There will always be a place for the hardcopy written word,” she said.

“People in our generation and older need that connection. As long as there is an outlet they will continue to come here.”

Whatever happens in the future of books, Kelly will always choose a hardcopy rather than its digital counterpart. He will continue to get into stories, connect with the characters on an emotional level, and be inspired by new ways of thinking.

“There’s a lot to be told in books,” he said. “I get to see the action in my head where it looks the way I want it to.”

What’s Wrong With Being Second?

May 4, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Briana Darensburg

Narcissistic, lazy and spoiled are just a few of the characteristics that some may use to describe Generation Y. From social networking sites that are used as virtual ego inflators to the instant-fame obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have diagnosed the Millennials as “overdosed on self-esteem.”

However, there is a new counterculture movement called I AM SECOND and it has leaked onto the SMU campus. According to their website, the organization is meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.

Representatives from the nationwide movement range from athletes like former University of Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy, to American Idol’s Jason Castro, to the every day person.

The movement uses short videos of personal testimonies that deal with the typical struggles of everyday living.

SMU junior James Parker saw the need for a group that empowers students to live for something greater than them—to be second. He decided to begin the first I AM SECOND group early this spring in the Mary Hay Hall.

“I see this [group] not just as a Christian thing, but for each other,” Parker said.

Although James is well-connected with students as a resident advisor and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, he didn’t know what to expect the first meeting.

“I thought maybe six or seven students would show up, but when I opened the door, it was like a roar,” Parker said.

To his surprise, nearly 30 students showed up at the first meeting.

Perhaps SMU students have their own perceptions of religious based groups, but Parker said that the I AM SECOND group on campus is not what you may think. On the group’s Facebook page is a disclaimer stating, “I AM SECOND is not: a bible study, church group, youth group or whatever.”

Due to the success of the group, four other resident halls now host a discussion group. The meetings consist of watching an I AM SECOND video and then discussing how it relates to your life.

The discussion groups not only talk about students’ personal struggles but how they are able to become second to God.

Group leader Evan Taylor said he envisions the group volunteering together so they can grow closer.

“We are community-based and about each other,” Taylor said.

Freshman Kacey Nelson, a participant in the group agrees that helping others should be something people focus more time on.

“I don’t think people spend enough time helping others,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t even have to be religious.”

Although the I AM SECOND group on campus is rooted in Christian values, the group strives to be inclusive and welcomes people from all religions to attend the meetings.

Nelson said that the group does not allow people to be judgmental and Taylor said students will not feel out of place.

“I just want SMU to know that this is a safe place,” Taylor said “No one would be bashed for their beliefs.”

With a selfless movement like I AM SECOND on the rise, it is unclear as to whether some Generation Y stereotypes are warranted. In fact, the Pew Research Center conducted a report on the values, attitudes and behaviors of Millennials.

The study found that the things Millennials value in life mirror the things older generations value. Family matters most and fame and fortune are much less important.

Journalism professor at SMU, Jake Batsell, also argues against Generation Y stereotypes in his recent blog post titled, “Journalism’s Next Generation: Working with Millennials.” Batsell claims that SMU journalism students actually want to make a difference.

“They want to use their multi-platform storytelling skills to do some good,” Batsell said.

Helping others has certainly become a trend at SMU.

“Two recent SMU grads spent part of last summer reporting and blogging from Romanian orphanages and one of our recent alums helped start an orphanage in Uganda,” wrote Batsell.

There are many different opportunities to ‘be second’ and make a difference at SMU. If you would like to get involved with the I AM SECOND’ group on campus, they hold meetings at Perkins Hall, Mary Hay Hall, Virginia Snider Hall, Shuttles Hall and Morrison-McGinnis Hall.

You can check out their website for SMU students for more information.