Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dear Kobo: Reading is not an achievement (in a society that can afford eReaders)

So my Kobo has started to give me achievements. Sort of like when you're playing a videogame, and you unlock a certain effect: maybe you blow up six enemies at once, and you get "Explosive Temper!" or some other such silly phrase emblazoned across the top right of your screen. I've picked up "I Eat Books for Lunch" and "Happy Hour," among a few others, though I have so far declined to share these "achievements" on Facebook.

Why? Because, honestly, reading is not like videogaming: it's not something I imagine making light of. We should not, in short, get achievements for reading in the context of a society that can afford to produce eReaders and eBooks. We're enormously technologically advanced: basic literacy - and a desire to occasionally indulge in some reading - should not be something to gloat over on Facebook.

But then again, I have to realize that literacy is still a thing that must be fought for; that not everyone, even in advanced industrial societies, is literate; and, despite my cynicism and mockery, maybe these achievements can actually help induce kids - of all backgrounds, from all places - to read more.

I certainly hope so, because I just think it's kinda goofy.

Weigh in, Internet: Is Ben Godby just a cynical jerk?



  1. There are people (I'm related to one) that don't enjoy reading and only do so when required. If this gives them incentive to get more of it under their belts, why not? :)

  2. Nah, I agree that those sound pretty dumb. I'm not sure having an award saying you eat books for lunch is terribly likely to encourage anyone to read more. I could be wrong, and maybe it will help the very young, perhaps those raised on games and no books, but otherwise... Weird.