We’re Going on an Adventure

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With the recent release of the second Hobbit film; The Desolation of Smaug, I thought I would check out some of the fan-based extras that were available. On my phone I came across two apps that I thought would be worth downloading, one was free, ‘Middle Earth Index’ and the other cost £0.94, ‘The Lord of the Rings Project’

I was first recommended The LOTR Project which I happily downloaLPded; it looked very neat but I was a bit disappointed with the lack of rustic charm that you would expect from such an app. Other than the map and small tree symbols, it contained no images to show off the fantastic world that Tolkien created. The family trees were large and contained all the information, but they were so big that it took ages to scroll to find the character you were looking for.

I found the timeline impressive, with a lot of the events there would be a small clip from the map to show where it happened, and it contained every event you’d be interested in knowing about, however, unless you already knew the timeline pretty well it could be quite difficult to find certain events. If you’re a true fan this might not be considered a problem, but for those just discovering Middle Earth and can seem like a lengthy and unnecessary process.

One thing this app did have was statistics regarding characters, including life span, sex, age distribution etc. I thought this was a good thing to include and I found it really interesting to see how numbers changed over the years. However I did get a little confused at some of the graphs, not being a ‘maths person’ I struggled to understand what some of them meant.

unnamedAfter doing some research I found another app called ‘Middle Earth Index’. Straight away I was more impressed by it, the first impression is so much better than the previous app; it provides a more visual aspect and gives a better Lord of the Rings vibe. It doesn’t contain as much information as LOTRP but the layout is much easier to navigate. Though it doesn’t include family trees or maps, it does include information on plants, animals, events, languages and tales. It works more like a dictionary or encyclopedia.

So it really depends on what you’re looking for in a Lord of the Rings app, if you’re a fan but don’t want to spend any money then the M.E. Index would work fine for you, however if you want that extra bit of information and don’t care about the appearance, LOTRP might be the one worth downloading.

Though these two aren’t perfect, I think it’s such a good idea to make books more interactive in this way; you could create an app for any book you wanted, they could then be used for study or recreational use depending on the user. I hope to see more like this over the coming years as the Digital Revolution gains momentum.

OTHER LOTR/HOBBIT APPS WORTH HAVING A LOOK AT

Hobbit Translator

Eye of Sauron

Lord of the Rings 3 Sounboard

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E-Books in Africa

_71429598_worldreaderimage2The BBC recently reported on Africa’s switch into the Digital Publishing era through their possible use of e-books. Publishers have long been frustrated at the lack of literary culture in Africa, but have found their hope renewed with smartphones and tablets on the up rise.

Since the year 2000 Africa’s online activity has increased by 3,606% meaning that 160 million people are now connected to the internet

It’s often difficult to print books in Africa due to a lot of unreliable services but having a digital outlet means that this is no longer a problem. Cassava Republic’s Jeremy Weate said “We don’t have to worry about printing, warehousing, distribution or engaging in fruitless marathons across the continent for payments that will never come”

With charities giving children and schools access to iPads and e-readers, it means that e-books are far more accessible to them than paper and hardbacks. It gives the people of Africa the opportunity to read anything they want rather than relying on the few books that they can obtain.

‘Statistics depicting Worldreader’s efforts too are commendable, having delivered more than 70,000 ebooks among 13,000 children in nine countries in the African continent.’

‘Digital Publishing is a win-win-win’ Amanda Barbara, Pubslush

Pubslush gives authors everywhere the opportunity to be published digitally which is a real revolution in Africa, allowing an equal chance to anyone wanting to write. This is definitely a positive in the list of things to consider.

Kids and Barca1However there are some criticisms, with a lot of people believing that ‘cultural imperialism‘ is at work. Is the Western world forcing this technology onto those who live better without it? Of course we are led to believe that reading more is a gift and that everyone should embrace it, but we have to question whether it will diminish the African culture already existing.

Dr L.N. Ikpaahindi discusses the prospects and challenges of Digital Publishing in West Africa here

Is it Farewell to our Beloved Paperback?

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Because of my love of books I had always been adamant that I would never succumb to the technological revolution that is the e-book, but after being given a Kindle last Christmas I found my resolve wavering. Throughout the day I examined my new toy and despite myself I was excited by what I found. As a fan of the classics I was pleased to discover that most of them came free, and I immediately found myself downloading several that caught my eye including ‘Les Miserables‘, ‘Northanger Abbey‘, and ‘A Tale of Two Cities‘. The more I looked the more I came to realise the Kindle isn’t the horror to literature as I thought. As a student I find it difficult to afford all the books I want to read but here was a cheaper way to expand my novel collection. Not too long afterwards I was downloading ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘ and more recently Veronica Roth‘s ‘Divergent‘ series. I find that it works well as a tester, if I fall in love with the story it will be then that I purchase the real book.

I can now also see how this technology can benefit the public, it makes people excited to read again; everyone wants to be up to date with latest gadgets and having this available makes it fashionable to have your nose stuck in a book. The possibilities of this revolution are endless.

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However just because I now know that there are benefits to the e-book doesn’t mean I’m a full convert. One of the joys of reading comes from purchasing a beautifully bound story where you can feel the roughness of the paper in your fingertips; the warm, musty, smell is such a pleasure to anyone who loves the written word. It is for this reason that I believe we will not be saying goodbye to the paperback any time soon. There is too much love for the literal book that it won’t be allowed to be lost to computers. It will forever be left to the public to save it.

iPads on the Uprise

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With the development of technology in the world it is often found that society struggles to keep up with ongoing releases of the latest gadgets.

Recently I attended a debate on the use of iPads in schools, where they discussed the pros and cons of such technology being used by children and teenagers. After filling the schools of Thailand it didn’t take long for Apple to reach out to our own institutes. Over the past year they have changed their market from university students to the ones in secondary schools, providing many with their very own iPad.ipad in education 2

Education is one of this country’s primary units in a child’s development but our beloved teachers appear to be being replaced by this new phenomenon.

There appear to be a lot of benefits for this new craze, including making it manageable for children to learn at their own pace. It gives the option for the members of a class to make their own way through a curriculum and provides different apps to aid their progress. It also provides anonymity when asking questions as they can be sent straight to the teacher’s own device, and then they can address the situation. This takes out the humiliation of not knowing an answer and could decrease bullying.

However on the other side of the argument, it could increase cyber bullying, and having the internet at a child’s fingertips could have dangerous consequences. With it already on the up rise it could allow the anonymity to amplify victimisation.

Computers already play a large part of childhood today, with most people having at least one in the family home; owning an iPad would only add to the amount of time spent in front of the screen. We end up having to ask ourselves; is this really what we want our children to inherit?

There are even sites to help teachers with getting to grips with the technology and how best to take advantage of it.