Books and Reading
The reader of today no longer has to make a journey to the book
store to find the latest best sellers. For those who wish to keep
their hard copies safe on the shelves at home, the Internet has
allowed for a greater distribution of books through online
The benefit for readers is the ability to purchase books online
through Amazon or other popular websites. However, in recent years
there has been a push towards digital copies of books. Books of all
ages and genres are being uploaded to shopping sites in the form of
PDF files and E-Reader documents.
With such technology, it has become possible for readers to read
their libraries via a tablet or even their phone. It is easier to
keep track of where they left-off, and the threat of spilling
liquids or getting food stains on the pages becomes less of a
problem. In addition, a series of books can now be stored on a flash
drive attached to a key ring. It is certainly easier to carry a
flash drive instead of a stack of books with pages numbering in the
The novel is not the only type of story that is benefitting from the
creation of the digital library. Comic books and magazines have also
become a popular purchase on the Internet. Companies such as Marvel
and DC comics, or popular magazines such as People, have offered
digital subscriptions for the past few years.
An overall benefit to these digital purchases comes in the form of
repetition. It is entirely possible now for someone to download a
book or a magazine multiple times, so long as they have purchased it
once. Even if a reader’s hard drive is destroyed, they can rebuild
their library with a click of the mouse.
For those readers who want to find older pieces, such as teachers
and students, the technology of the Internet has also allowed for
access to the texts of the past. Archives like Project Gutenberg
contain thousands of texts that we often consider to be “classic,”
so long as there is no current copyright issue. For example, if a
teacher wants to assign a reading of Shakespeare, but they do not
want to make the class purchase another book, an archive like
Project Gutenberg will have multiple copies of Shakespeare’s work
available for a free download.
On the part of the author, it has become easier for those who wish
to write to post their material online with new methods of
self-publishing. Web services are offered through Amazon, Lulu, or
other similar websites.
These websites allow for would-be writers to submit their own
written files, complete with options for covers and bindings. Some
websites provide access to a network of editors who will review
material for a fee. Due to the increase in popularity of these
services, publishing companies have begun scouring these databases
for new talent.
Music and audio entertainment
Related to reading, audio books have continued on into the new world
of entertainment because of the Internet. In the past, books could
be bought on tape and listened to with a portable tape player or in
a car. While these types of audio books have not gone away, they are
no longer the only method of hearing a book read aloud.
Services such as Audible.com allow for narrated books to be
purchased and stored online in a manner similar to electronic
documents. Not only are books sold this way, but articles can be
purchased and listened to as well. In addition, there are other
services, such as Librivox, which allow for volunteers to narrate
books (under public domain) for free downloads.
In addition to books, audio technology has allowed for a greater
access to radio channels and music catered to the listener.
Following in the footsteps of satellite radio, the Internet has
become populated with websites that allow for listeners to create
their own radio playlists based on genre or artist.
Listeners can also tag songs they like in order to hear more music
that is similar. For example, using the Pandora radio app, one can
create a station solely for classic rock or country or even
classical music. In addition, these genres can be mixed together
into one station.
Another popular audio-based piece of entertainment media is the
podcast. A podcast is similar to NPR in the sense that most podcasts
focus on a discussion among a group of people over certain topics. A
search for podcasts yields results in discussions of politics,
science, history, movies, video games, music, art and … almost
anything one could have a discussion about. Podcasts can be saved on
a hard drive and listened to repeatedly.
In the vein of radio, technology has allowed for audience
participation in podcast discussions. With the availability of
Twitter, it has become common online for popular podcast creators to
inform their listeners of when they will be recording. As a result,
it has become common to listen to a recording live and contribute
via text messages in a manner similar to callers on a radio show.
Video cameras have become increasingly prevalent in today’s devices.
Phones, laptops, tablets -- it seems like most devices come with a
camera of some kind built in. As a result, it has become easy for
people to find entertainment via the recorded escapades of other
The most popular name among video entertainment on the web
is YouTube. More often than not any other website can support an
embedded YouTube clip somewhere on the page. Due to the popularity
of YouTube, it has become commonplace in recent years for viewers to
supplement, or possibly even replace, their television viewing with
regular uploads from YouTube channels. In addition, it is possible
to find older television shows that are no longer airing on sites
such as YouTube.
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With the rise of YouTube viewers has come an increase in content creators
online. A new field of entertainers has risen in the last ten years as a result.
It is possible now to partner with YouTube directly to receive compensation
based on a YouTube channel. These channels typically come in the form of vlogs
(shorthand for video blogs). Vlogs work the same as a written column, save for
Another example, following in the footsteps of Myspace and Facebook, it is
common for bands to host a YouTube channel.
Finally, for those who play video games or merely want to watch someone else,
the “Let’s Play” video has become a source for literally hours of entertainment,
thanks to the use video recording devices that can be hooked up to game consoles
or computers. These videos can also be used as a form of game reviews, utilized
visuals rather than written text. (A word of warning -- a lot of “Let’s Play”
content on the Internet is rated for mature audiences.)
With the rise of digital technology comes the introduction of On-Demand video
streaming. On-Demand streaming allows for the instant provision of a television
show or movie, usually with advertisements. Unlike a televised broadcast, these
videos can be played repeatedly, although some websites, such as Hulu, rotate
certain shows on and off of their websites.
On the topic of Hulu, it is not uncommon today to find that websites are
creating their own televised content without the need for television. Netflix,
once known mostly for movie rentals through the mail, now has numerous shows
available for streaming, as does Amazon Prime, who most people think of as only
a shopping website.
Gaming and Consoles
Gaming consoles of the past could play music CD’s and DVD’s in addition to the
games that were played. Microsoft and Sony, in designing recent consoles,
stepped up their game, so to speak, by focusing on the increasing demand for
online connectivity via consoles. However, modern entertainment-seekers are not
always content with larger multiplayer options.
Much like a Smartphone, Internet connectivity has allowed for the creation of
apps for the Xbox and Playstation lines. Owners of these consoles may download
apps for video streaming, storing music, browsing the Web, and more. The most
recent generation of consoles allows for the sharing of video clips between
players via video streaming.
When Nintendo created the Wii in 2006, they opened the doors for the next
addition to gaming; motion control. Since then, Microsoft has attempted twice to
take motion control gaming to the next stage with the Kinect, meeting with
varying degrees of success. Sony attempted the same with the Playstation Move.
In any case, motion control gaming peripherals allow for the body to become part
of the gaming experience, as players have to move controllers (as seen with
Nintendo products) or their whole bodies via cameras and sensors (seen with the
Kinect). It is this type of technology that contributes to virtual reality
consoles such as the Oculus Rift, a console that the player wears over their
eyes to look into a virtual setting. The machine, which is still in development,
tracks the user’s head movements in order to create a more immersive gaming
In addition to apps and motion controls, modern gaming has also introduced the
idea of disc-less gaming. Today’s game-player, through the use of Internet
connectivity and the Cloud, can purchase and store games digitally, instead of
having to purchase physical copies. In addition, because of the lack of
necessity for discs or cartridges, game companies are re-releasing older titles
from previous generations on to newer consoles, sometimes with updated graphics
and tighter control schemes. Finally, the lack of a need for discs allows for
independent developers to release games alongside the big-name titles.
In addition to consoles, the most popular games today, such as Angry Birds or
Candy Crush, are played using touch screens on phones and tablets rather than
televisions. In fact, the popularity of these games has led to an increase in
game-playing by all generations, thanks to the relative ease of touch-screen
control and easy access.
So, thanks to technology that has come along in recent years, especially that of
the Internet, entertainment has entered a new age. This new age, while built on
the technology that came before, is different in a very interesting set of ways,
and it is hard to imagine anything that might come next.
Many libraries offer digital and Internet related
services. The Lincoln Public Library offers numerous types of media mentioned in
this article for informative or entertainment purposes including audiobooks,
eBooks, music and videos. Visit the Lincoln Public Library District services
page or stop in and talk to the friendly staff to hear what the library has to