16 Aug 2013


By Ezim Osai,
Friday, August 16 2013
Be Smart, Be Yourself 
- Tecno

Artence is a concatenation of the words “art” and “science” which is what this article talks about. My definition of the word “artence” is simply anything artistic which science and technology makes easier.

In recent times, the need for more and more technological advances keeps arising and with these needs comes the need to beautify and make the classic stuff easier and more interesting. For instance, if you wanted to write a book in Shakespeare’s time you would have to write the manuscript longhand. A book the people back then might spend two or three years writing and editing, would probably be finished in three months today.

Artence in this article talks of some of the instances in which science (technology really) helps to make literary appreciation easier in our modern age, shedding new light and giving insight into some things we already know.

The first instance of artence and one of the greatest inventions of our time is the worldwide web, simply called the internet. The internet changed the whole world and is one of the greatest troves of information today. The internet is like a worldwide library consisting of everything one can think of.

Thirty years ago, if an individual wanted to read a Geoffrey Chaucer poem, they would have to go to a library and a pretty big one at that to find such a rare piece. If they wanted to get a critique on a particular book for an assignment or project, they might spend hours or days in a library, searching through journals and books and at the end may not find what they were searching for. If one wanted to find out how good a book was before they bought it, they would probably have to belong to a book club or read every newspaper they came across that said anything about the book. If one wanted to study a writer who never had a biography, they would probably have to study all his books, journal entries, records and what other people said about him. If this particular writer was not so popular, one can only but imagine the amount of effort it would take. The internet has made all these things one click away literally.

If I want to read a Geoffrey Chaucer poem, I would simply type “Geoffrey Chaucer Poem” in my search-box and within seconds, and voila! I’d get a list of his popular poems for me to select from! If I want a critique on say Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God, I’d type “Achebe Chinua Arrow of God Critique” and the results will stare me in the face within seconds. The internet makes literary appreciation much easier and the tediousness of going from town to town searching for a library is gone because I have the largest library in the palm of my hand. No more searching through dusty bookshelves or the fear of touching books that would tear if one flipped them too fast.

The second instance of artence I want to talk about is the eBook. What is an eBook?

An eBook is simply an electronic book. They can be read on the internet, mobile devices, tablets, laptops, desktops and even some gaming consoles. eBooks are one of the greatest innovations of our age and a game-changer for education even in Nigeria.

I am pretty sure ten to fifteen years ago, the use of projectors in Nigerian lecture rooms and distribution of “soft-copies” of lecture notes was an idea that most would laugh at. The idea of one having their complete coursework in the palm of their hand, ready for them to consult at any time would have seemed like a wild dream back then. Today however, this dream is now a reality. If they were looking for a particular sentence, they could just search the whole book in a split second, or even send the book to a colleague of theirs in another school for analysis.

Although not very popular in Nigerian institutions, the use of electronic books is seemingly the order of the day in a lot of them. It not only makes teaching faster, but also makes learning easier and the clamor to photocopy “materials” is put to an end (God knows how much I hate to make photocopies). The eBook has not only changed the way lectures are being  taught, but has also paved a way for a generation where the bulkiness of paper is no more and the excuse of not having access to lecture notes has become a daunting lie. The electronic book is one of the most beautiful instances of artence and one of the most simple.

Another instance of artence which in itself is the most important, is the invention of the computer (I should write an article on this point alone). I need not bore you with details of how the computer was invented because I believe we all know what computers are. If we don’t, then we should know that a computer is anything that receives data, processes it and gives out meaningful information.

You may be wondering how a computer is an instance of artence right now, but to be clear, without computers there would be no artence. The internet (inter-connectivity of networks) or worldwide web is a wireless connection between computers i.e. without computers, there would be no internet and without the internet, how do you get eBooks?

The computer has made life a lot easier across all works of life. Even you reading this article are reading it on a computer (a phone is a computer too), as I am pretty sure these articles do not exist in print. Even I am not writing this with a pen or paper like Shakespeare did, but with an Acer laptop and Microsoft Word software.

The computer is the singular most important tool of this generation and the basis of all Artence (the internet, e-libraries, eBooks, search engines) are all subsets of this universal set.

My finally, instance of artence is applications and software. An eBook is an application or software but this point talks of more ‘specialised’ apps and software. There is a format of files called “ePub”, which is short for electronic publishing. This is a new way of publishing in which writers and authors of books publish their works on the internet on websites or as downloadable content. The ePub files can only be read with ePub readers, which are usually available on websites where such files are published. 

There is also Google Books, which is an electronic library by Google with various books available for free and some to be purchased remotely. Other electronic libraries exist and a lot of them have applications for mobile devices and software for laptops and desktops.

An app which I also came across recently is Okadabooks. Okadabooks is a Nigerian app which brings various works of fiction and non-fiction together in one place whether published or not. So far, all the books I have seen on it are Nigerian books. Okadabooks is available on Google Play but I do not know whether it is available on iOS.

The use of these apps and software presents books in a new way and makes reading them or studying them much easier. One no longer has to worry about the book getting lost or the pages getting torn or being worn out.

The touches of technology in art have presented artists and students of the arts with whole new ways to study and appreciate their works and the works of those before them, making it infinitely simpler and exponentially more interesting. The use of computers in schools although not very widespread, is an initiative students and school administrations should try to adopt. While some may say computers are expensive, we should calculate the amount we pay for textbooks and notebooks from JSS1 to SS3 and compare with the amount it costs to get a mini-laptop or a high-end mobile device and see the difference. The world is going electronic and Nigerians should not be far behind; Artence is the future.

Ezim Osai is a 200L Physics major at the University of Ibadan. A Taoist and a Christian, he loves Cooking, Travelling, Reading, Writing, and loves to absorb nature.

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