Reading on a Kindle : I Miss The Weight of Pages Transferring From Right to Left

I’m now reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror on my Kindle. He’s a very competent writer, and perhaps it’s his very slow, very claustrophobic build-up (which he’d d*** well better pay off) that makes it so noticeable, but I have to say that I’m very aware of a certain “running on a treadmill” sensation when reading on the Kindle.

I turn pages, click click click, and the story progresses, but the only token of my progress is a bar at the bottom (the same length for all material, no matter the word count) that occasionally deigns to darken another pip. Like the animated plane on the in-flight display, this is almost worse than no indicator at all (“We still aren’t past Nebraska?” Wait for it… wait for it … tick it moves a single pixel…).

Especially with thrillers, the book-reading experience includes the sensation of the story moving from right-hand to left. It includes the canny appraisal of the upper-right corner, when the remaining pages become individualized — “An hour more, then! I can miss the sleep!” The force of will to read every clause as the thumb holds down only the last 3 pages…

Stephen J. Gould on Baseball : May Relate to Programmer Productivity

Andrew Dalke reminded me of an essay by Stephen J. Gould (discussed at:

http://www.michaelshermer.com/1996/10/bicycles-baseball-bacteria-and-bach/ and http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/1997/01/outspoken.html) about the decreasing deviation in performance as a field matures. Relating it to the old studies on programming productivity, Dalke wonders:

If that applies to programming, and I expect that’s a strong confounding effect, then those 1980-era studies have another problem – the field was too new. Many of the good programmers my age have been programming since high school or earlier, so about 20 years. Who in the 1980s had that background?