My eldest daughter, immersed.

So, my most-benevolent father gave each one of my three daughters an iPad for Christmas. This absolutely trumps what had been the best present ever, the monogrammed “Hoodie Footies” I’d ordered them, which they adore and wear constantly.

However, while the girls may be donning pink pajamas their noses are buried in iPads. Ostensibly, we are visiting my father for the holidays but, in reality, the little ones are visiting the untold worlds now available to them on the Worldwide Web.

I wonder if Steve Jobs really understood what he was conjuring when he imagined his magic tablet: that human beings would be powerless in the shiny face of its preternatural glow. Of course he did. For him, and millions others, the upside clearly outweighs the down.

There’s a nifty line of copy is a recent car commercial, where the announcer says something to the effect of no one ever grew up wishing they could visit a website. That’s true, I suppose, for some. But my girls? I wonder. Maybe they are in fact growing up wishing they could visit a website; it sure looks like it.

Today, we visited the Apple Store in Santa Monica. It was killing it. Crowds three deep. Shiny, happy people buying shiny happy things. By contrast, the Playstation Headquarters two doors down was deader than a graveyard.

Mr. Jobs- if you’re able to check on your iWorld via some heavenly app then you know Apple blew up Christmas. Again. I’m sure my girls would thank you if they weren’t lost in the matrix.

I have a very special relationship with my laptop computer. For going on 15 years I’ve owned one, almost since Apple began making them. I hooked up with my first at Leo Burnett, where they doled out Macbooks to the copywriters and desktops for the art directors. I still think we writers got the better deal. Back then, few of us actually knew how to use a computer and so Leo Burnett provided mandatory lessons. A saucy blond woman taught me, which, at the time, may have been the biggest motivator to take the class. Like most creative people, I loathed tutorials, even when they were for my own good. Needless to say, I’m glad as hell I went. In retrospect, I should have been first in line.

My machine quickly smote me. You have to realize how exotic these svelte devices were, coming off an IBM Selectric or whatever the hell we’d been using. The IBM machine was swell…like your mother-in-law. Believe it or not, lots of writers still hacked away on manual typewriters or gave their copy to assistants to type. Sounds like ancient history but it isn’t. I’m talking 1996.

No love lost here.

Within a couple years we became inseparable, my laptop and I. Now it’s like we’re married, only without human frailty. She stays up with me at night telling me her secrets. In the morning I run to see what she’s saved for me. I take my laptop everywhere. She is way more than a tool. The Ipad or Iphone might be sexier but they do not seduce me. As a writer, I cannot ply my craft on those devices.

I realize the “life online” idea is nothing new. It’s so 1999. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My relationship with my computer is more involved than what teenagers have with smart phones or executives and their Blackberries. Those people can’t wait to get the new, new version of whatever their using. Me? I get attached to the hardware. I hold on until the bitter end. Though dead, I still have my 2004 G4. The dings on its silver shell are special to me. As is the backstage pass sticker from the 2005 Secret Machines concert I attended at Cabaret Metro.

Even though my new computer rocks, I can’t chuck the old one. I started this blog on that machine. I wrote the final draft of The Happy Soul Industry and Sweet by Design on it. It is also where I wrote my last TV commercial, for Cabot stains. Alas, my G4 died two years ago. Ironically, it now rests under the landline in my office, which I never use anymore either.

I bet many of you (writers especially) would have a hard time voluntarily getting rid of your old laptops if your company didn’t take them from you.

Is it old school to think of technology this way? I don’t know. Musicians fall in love with their instruments. Especially guitarists, right? When you use a machine to create stuff it takes some of the credit; it becomes a part of you. As awesome as the latest flat screen TV is, it’s still only a delivery system and, as such, the newer one is always better.

We’re a month into my “novel slash social media experiment,” Sweet by Design. So far the project has exceeded my expectations. More people have logged on to read the novel’s chapters, submit covers and leave comments than bought and/or read my other two books combined: Some 10,000 people in 25 days, several hundred following the story, with more new ones every day. And while that number won’t get me on any best-seller lists, for me it’s a dream come true.

Thank you.

You should know I’ve not made money on any of my books. Financially speaking they have all been disasters. Ask my accountant! But I don’t care. I’m not in it for that. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m in it primarily for the audience. This, more than cash, more than anything, is what motivates me to write. I don’t believe much in diaries. I want readers. If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it…

The other thrilling aspect about ‘publishing’ my book via blog is how successful the social media component has been. Not only have I been able to add pictures and links but I can also adjust the story as I go –correcting errors, changing details, adding lines. None of that would have possible had I gone right to paper. Neither could I have done any of it without you. Just as I have become a publisher, you have become editors. This is the frontier for new authors, maybe all authors; I’m convinced of it.

Sweet by Design has 48 chapters, which means we are about a quarter the way through. By early to mid fall it will be completely published. At that point a cover design will be chosen, with my barely used, top-of-the-line Ipad going to the winner. As of this moment there are thirty covers posted. That means the odds are only 30 to 1 to win it all. Pretty good odds.

I’ve included 11 randomly chosen covers, above and below. It’s a lovely display. Done right crowd sourcing really does work. Moreover, it’s fair and it’s fun. As of now, I see no downside.

I hope by reading this and seeing the work that your compadres have done more of you will be motivated to participate. For those keeping up with the novel, chapter 11 arrives shortly.

Again, thank you.

God damn the pusher man!

The good people from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America gave me an Ipad for hosting the Obie awards a few weeks ago. Thank you so much, OAAA. I got mine just as our agency was debating how to parse the two it had purchased for lending out. Many were eager to sign for those. I was tickled by not having to borrow one.

Perhaps not as heralded as the Iphone or Ipod before it, Apple’s Ipad is, without question the new, new thing. Clearly, Apple has done it again. Their track record would be unbelievable if not for their track record. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Joker: “How do they make those wonderful toys?”

When I pull the device out from my briefcase my young daughters cease to see their father anymore. In his place is an Ipad being held by someone. Not for long, however. My girls abscond the Ipad and refuse to give it back, let alone share it with each other. I am only able to retrieve it when they succumb to sleep. My children’s reaction proves how mighty the Apple brand is. I have never seen my daughters more excited. Ever. And bare in mind I have seen them on Christmas and Easter mornings.

With its vivid, black screen and iconic silver casing, we are attracted to Ipad out of the box. The tension between coveting one and sharing one is like having good drugs. I want to share the high with those around me but I don’t want to give up my stash. Something like that, anyway. Let’s just say it’s powerful. I’ve seen the effect it has on my kids. I’ve seen it with my peers as well. Even the tech savvy people attending my Hyper Island Master Class in digital training were enamored of the device. From digital neophyte to social media guru, everyone seems to possess strong affinity for Ipad.

Except me! That’s right. I’m not addicted to my Ipad. For instance, I just took it on a business trip but only used it once and that was to show it off. I’m not a hater. Far from it. I’m just saying I’m not hooked. Which is weird, given my addictive personality and the passion I have for Apple products in general. Give it time, right?

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Screens, screens, everywhere a screen…

What’s the end game to all this?

By “this” I mean integration, convergence and social media. By this I mean the explosion of Twitter, Facebook and You Tube and the implosion of newspapers, magazines, and books. We now have Iphones, Imacs, Ipods and Ipad and I can’t count all the rest. So where’s it all going? What’s the end game?

I’ll give you a hint. In India something called Bubbly is creating a stir. In case you haven’t heard –heard being the operative word- Bubbly is just like Twitter, only users speak words instead of tapping them out. Users listen to words versus reading them. A half million trendsetters in India are using Bubbly today. What about tomorrow…and the next day? I ask again: What’s the end game? Where’s this going?

Need another hint? Fine. This one comes in two parts. 1) The advent of screens. Flat screens. Kindle. Nintendo. Smart phones. Wii. Our world is now revealed to us via screens. 2) The end of print. Newspapers, magazines and books (as we know them) are going extinct. Not if but when. And when may be a lot sooner than we thought.


This is the end game: we (meaning everyone in the world) will stop reading and writing and begin only talking and watching. I’m not here to bemoan it or criticize it or rail against it. I’m just saying it. Most everyone in the world will stop reading and writing. Most everything we do will be done via audio & visuals. Entertainment and communication are leading the way. Education and business are right behind them.

But screens are merely the gateway. With the advent of 3D and holographic technology, even they will go away. It will just be Us projecting to Us.

I’m a reader and a writer, and have been all my life, so don’t assume I’m down with this. But I am getting used to it. We all are. Things like Kindle, Iphone and Bubbly break us in. Books become antiques, heirlooms and decorations. Like the rotary phone, we almost forget they ever existed. This isn’t good news or bad news. It just is.

I understand some of us will never embrace the talking and watching world. Maybe you belong to this group. So what? Like me, you’ll be dead in 50 years. They’ll play a video at your funeral.

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