Nobody reads books anymore and that's a good thing

Books are an outdated medium and cannot compete in the modern arena of opinions.

Fewer and fewer people are reading books. By books, I mean fiction read for pleasure. You hear articles written all the time about how social media, the internet, TV, radio, telegraphs, and newspapers are ruining the attention span of young adults and how we’re all going to be like the wheelchair people in Wall-E. It seems like every other day another article comes out in the Washington Post or Buzzfeed about how millennials are killing books.

Why do we think reading books for fun is important? It’s not.

In 2018, we have better things to do with our time than read books. The people who drool and circlejerk over “classic” literature fail to realize that as humans have progressed as a society, we’ve grown better at doing stuff. We’re better at running, we’re better at cooking, we’re better at music, and we’re just smarter and superior overall to those hundreds of years ago. A modern high school sports team would have destroyed the competition in the ancient Olympics. We’ve developed technologies and activities that are much more efficient and provide a better return on time investment than those we’ve had in the past.

1984, the book of edgy high schoolers across America, teaches us about the dangers of tyranny while delivering a thriller story. It’s a wonderful book. Just like any edgy high schooler, I too enjoyed the book when I was in high school. It taught the 16 year old me about politics, society, and people. However, it took a few hours and a few hundred pages. High schoolers now can just watch a 3 minute Youtube video about the topics and themes of 1984 and be just as educated.

With the internet, anyone (like me!) can have a voice. Anyone can put anything out on the internet for anyone to read. Books are subject to the whims of the market, the editors, the publishing company, the formats in which they must adhere to, and other miscellaneous factors that ensure maximum readership and profit. Getting a book published is difficult, way more difficult than publishing on Tumblr or hosting your own site on Github for free. We use this self-selection process to say “wow, books must be impressive since they got published.” This is erroneous reasoning.

With the global market of ideas that is the internet, books are simply failing to compete. There’s more interesting stuff in the world than there is in the non-fiction aisle of the library, and with the internet, writings about those things and events can be easily accessed by the common man to consume. These news articles, opinion pieces, blogposts, even social media commentaries are often more concise, provide a better return on investment, and are simply more interesting than some book that became famous because the printing press wasn’t invented yet.

There’s nothing wrong with reading books for pleasure. Getting immersed in a book is fun, and a good book can be a comfortable way to spend an afternoon. But compared to modern media formats, the opportunity cost of reading a book just isn’t very worth it.

Longevity of Discord Communities

Discord communities have a very short lifespan

Before Discord, there was something else that many on the internet used. IRC or Internet Relay Chat is a protocol upon which numerous networks built their communities. IRC culture is vastly different from Discord culture. In IRC, the user connects to one or multiple IRC servers. Anyone can then create a channel on these IRC servers, or join a channel that someone else has created. These channels contain the community that the user wishes to join. Whoever created these channels were the owners of the channels, with the IRC protocol supporting an extensive permissions and ban system. IRC does not support GIFs or emojis. It doesn’t support voice chat. It doesn’t work well with mobile. If you lose connection to the IRC server, you lose out on that conversation. If you wanted something, you had to write it yourself. Being completely textual, even logging in required some form of computer competency.

IRC was created 30 years ago, and many still use it and the network of servers set up almost three decades ago.

Why Discord’s model sucks

Many IRC communities have persisted through decades. I’m not talking about IRC servers, but rather IRC channels. The same will not be said for Discord.

While many argue that the main problem with Discord’s ability to retain long running communities can be traced due to the fact that it’s an application run by a corporation rather than a protocol people can write their own stuff for, there’s a large factor to the fast decline of Discord communities that many do not consider.

A user joins a Discord server, which is created by a person. This is the community that the user joins. This server can have many channels, each of which may have a different topic. In IRC, the user joins a channel where the community resides, while in Discord the user joins a server in which the community resides.

Thus, the Discord community may have many different channels.

The problem with too many channels and small communities

Large communities are probably fine.

For small communities, the splitting of the chatrooms into different channels leads itself to the problem that most of these channels are not used. The user sees them not being used and thinks that the server is dead. There’s simply not enough conversation to allow users to join in.

Imagine 40 strangers living in a mansion with 40 rooms. Most people are going to stick to their own room. Imagine 40 strangers living in a single house. They’ll be forced to talk to each other, or they can leave.

There’s just not enough conversation in a small community to justify the number of channels they have. Most Discord server owners don’t realize this, and they create a crapload of channels that nobody except a few use once in a while. Users don’t get to know each other. While there may be several hundred users in a server, it may rarely see conversation.

IRC is different. A community is one channel. You either talk or you watch people talk, or you get out. It takes active effort to connect to an IRC channel, while on Discord when you’re on a server, you connect there forever automatically.

By condensing the space, users in IRC are forced to interact with each other, which forces lasting bonds.

This is why IRC communities last decades, while Discord communities will not.

There’s a lot of other problems with Discord’s chat model, but I think this is one that people don’t often realize, and is one of the main contributors towards dead communities.

Come check out our panels at Fanimecon

Featuring a brand new panel, Whitewashing of Anime Culture

We are hosting two panels at Fanimecon this year! We are hosting our typical Animemes talk on Sunday May 27th from 11pm-1am, but we would like to invite you to our brand new panel: Keep Anime Anime - Whitewashing of Anime Culture.

In today’s globalized world, access is the name of the game. Companies tout statistics bragging about floating balloon with internet access to server rural communities in Australia, or brag about how they’ve brought electricity to much of India. However, is access always a good thing? Sure, globalism has provided great humanitarian benefits to much of the world, but should the same apply for cultures?

A few years ago, GamerGate happened. Whether you as a person are “for” or “against” GamerGate, there is no denying that it not only changed the culture of video games, but also the political atmosphere. Suddenly, it was cool to reject the mainstream. Games were originally designed for the basement neckbeard, fingers coated with cheetos dust while downing countless bottles of mountain dew. Gamers were bullied for being uncool, and they were ostracized and often looked down upon for not enjoying mainstream hobbies such as football or baseball. Now as video games are easily accessible and e-sports are streamed on ESPN, the formerly bullied feel as if their culture has been appropriated by the same audiences who shuuned it in the past.

While GamerGate’s claims of culture appropriation are valid or not, cultural appropriation is a real thing. Sure, if we think of ourselves as cultured by avoiding Sushirrito and going to the Real Sushi(tm) place next door, conveniently ignoring that the workers speak Spanish and the owners speak Cantonese. We know quinoa is bad for the poor South American farmers who can’t afford to eat their own traditional food anymore, but a few articles about the health benefits of the crunchy grain and Kimberly’s incessant ranting about how her hot new yoga instructor thinks it’ll make people live forever will make us change our mind.

Companies such as Crunchyroll enjoy bragging about how many “overseas fans” they’re connecting to the “industry.” They make broad claims about how overseas money is helping the “industry” while they themselves make big bucks from subscribers. Now, we even see their names on the start and ending credits.

More and more people have access to Japanese animation than ever before. Come to our panel to learn why this may not be a good thing.

Sunday, May 27th 12am-1am (Saturday Midnight/Sunday Morning)

On the excellence of Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou

Every anime aspires to be the Anime of the Year. Yet, there are not enough years to give to a certain anime.

Once in a lifetime you’ll come across an anime that truly captures the history and cultural distinctions of the modern world the way a person can subjectively perceive it through our guided field of perspective. I have to admit, I had my doubts when I first learned of this anime. After all, Wake Up Girls? Will this anime even be good? How ignorant was I to even have these thoughts. Little did I know I was about to indulge in what may have been the best 25 minutes of my life every single week. The anime starts out strong. The opening scenes enticed the audience with a captivating enigma. I was so taken aback from the next-generation animation that I almost didn’t even realize the underlying symbolism in the ongoing scenes. It wasn’t until my twenty sixth viewing of the anime’s first two episodes where I finally got my bearings together and was able to focus on the gripping and labyrinthine stratagem. The underlying analogy for 19th century dystopianism and the evangelical deviation of typical orthodoxy was enlightening to say the least. Just when I thought the anime could not get any better, the increasing conflict before the climax began in the last episode. I could not believe the complexity of the story as the main protagonist struggled with the everyday endeavors for a quintessential girl such as the consistent up-hill altercation of the fight against misogyny and the fiscal synergy of opposing interplanetary dynamisms. There I was, gripping to my chair as the conflict of the anime truly began. I am so enticed by the anime that I feel as if I am both practically and relatively apart of the anime. This is a special kind of high that not even the strongest of drugs can give you.