Taking things for granted

Sometimes you take the simplest things for granted. Like being able to quickly navigate and move items between file systems. To understand the hierarchy of files and folders. To understand why an epub file needs to be unzipped into its component parts in order to edit it. To keep track of multiple OEBPS folders with identically named contents.

Trouble is, they’re not the simplest things to understand at all. It’s the old-school style of computing that meant that only one or two children at my school could use the BBC Micro (and one of them just used it to display “Mrs Patterson smells” all over the screen).

They’re skills that Windows and Word and iPods have made irrelevant for the majority of users, so when we want to do something a little different, it takes us out of our comfort zone and reminds us of just how intimidating technology can be.

eBooks are an absolute pain in the tender regions to create and edit. WYSIWYG editors are either non-existent or unreliable, file conversion ditto. After teaching today’s (admittedly quite successful) workshop – a crash course in creating an epub format book via notepad++ I’ve discovered that frame of mind is everything.

What doesn’t help frame of mind is one eReader refusing to display certain image files that other eReaders were happy with. What doesn’t help frame of mind is characters like ‘&’ locking up an eReader.

It takes zen-like calm to overcome such quibbles that come between creator and creation.

Note to self : When advertising a workshop in eBook publishing, emphasise technical problem solving over creative freedom. It’ll help get them into the right frame of mind, at least.