Why I love the Web, Part Umpteen

Modern humans retain, I believe, hunter-gatherer instincts. How else to explain the odd impulse to shop, even when nothing is needed, even when money is scarce.

To satisfy this urge without bankrupting ourselves, my wife and I have taken to visiting Good Will stores on weekends. You can spend all day in a Good Will store, leave with a cart-full of items, and have paid less than thirty dollars.

I like to browse the books and electronics there. Not long ago, as a result, I came into possession of a CD collection of Clive Barker’s Mister B. Gone, an odd little story about the adventures of a minor demon who ended up embroiled in the invention of the printing press. Due largely to this text, I have now developed the habit of listening to audiobooks on my travels to and from work at Sebranek Inc.

It was that employer who, back in 1999, asked me to begin researching ebooks. Among other things, I attended the first eBook World Convention in New York, purchased a Franklin eBookMan, read Heart of Darkness and House of the Seven Gables on a tiny Rex6000 (a PCMCIA card with a screen on one side), and became generally addicted to literature on PDAs. One wonderful source I found for ebooks was www.Gutenberg.org, a free online library of public-domain works.

Recently, having finished Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter as an audiobook, I found myself casting about for something else to listen to. Then it hit me: Gutenberg.org has audio recordings for many of its works! I’ve been wanting to read Moby Dick, why not have it read to me, instead. So I started downloading chapters, burning them to CD, and listening to them in the car.

“Call me Ishmael,” he says, and then begins a tale far different in tone and content than I could have imagined. You can call me grateful to Gutenberg.org, and to the Internet in general.

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