Friday, July 11, 2008

Saving gas: The value of a virtual world

This morning when I visited my library's website, one of their links — a headline advertising their ebook collection — stated "Save Gas: Download a Book."

I love seeing references like this. I've long thought that we're heading toward an increasingly virtual world, but now gas prices are hastening this transition. Compared to Europe, our country has pretty poor public transportation systems, and because most of our cities are so sprawling, walking or riding a bike isn't always an option, either. As a result, we're doing our shopping online, telecommuting more often, and even now getting our reading materials online. Don't want to spend gas and time on grocery shopping? Instead you can order online from grocery stores. Don't want to stand in line at the post office? Order and print out your postage online.

I personally think it's a great trend. It preserves our environment, cuts back on fuel consumption, and saves us money. Of course, as freelance writers who work from home, we're considerably more invested in the development of a virtual world. I've met with a client in person only twice in three years — the rest of my work is done online, and to a lesser degree, via phone. Most of my research is done online — via Google, academic databases, and my library's ebook collection.

So for the sake of discussion, I have a question for my fellow freelancers: How do you take advantage of the conveniences of a virtual world?

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