Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ipads & Kindles & E-readers, Oh my!

I'm a technological orphan. We didn't have a microwave or a dishwasher in my house until I was in jr. high, and one could argue that I married my husband for his computer.

Riding the coattails of my husband's technological finesse, I learned all kinds of things. He won a digital camera back in the days when everybody didn't have one. I completed my master's degree online & taught myself HTML code.

In the process, though, we had children, bought cars, a house, and began homeschooling. The crest of our wave—i.e., our buying power—fell. We still have a microwave & a computer, but no dishwasher. I've never used an MP3 player, and we still use tape cassettes and a VCR. I have become the old lady who doesn't adapt well to new formats.

And now there are people in the world who want me to give up my books, my beautiful, bound library of ideas, risking the conspiracy of the geeks, & trusting my philosophy to a little piece of equipment that is supposed to hold a library in the palm of my hand (or my purse).

Sure, there are bookmarks, if you can figure out how to use them. I write books, & I have a hard enough time finding what I'm looking for in my own novels. If I could afford to print them out whenever I wanted, that would be so. much. better.

So digital reader? Hmmm. I doubt it.

But a piece on NPR about a week ago had me rethinking my position on the whole thing. The commentator was talking about the pros & cons of the Ipad, & one of the best things about the new gadget was how much it's like a book. You can turn it sideways & view two pages at a time. It's got a flip-the-page function.

I couldn't help but notice how funny it is that we're going out of our way to make this new technology as much like the old as possible, to make the conversion more comfortable. I wonder if Gutenberg encountered the same resistance:

What? You want us to cut. our. scrolls. APART??? Why--we wouldn't be able to see what came before & after what we're reading! We wouldn't be able to leave it rolled up where we left off!

Just think how much easier progress would have been if we could have skipped right past the printing press & gone from scrolls to e-readers. Everybody would be happy. Well, except the out-of-work scribes.

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