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The Kindle, revisited

I came across this long article in the Fall issue of The New Atlantis, a relatively new journal of technology. The article is about more than just one newfangled electronic device.

The book is modernity’s quintessential technology—“a means of transportation through the space of experience, at the speed of a turning page,” as the poet Joseph Brodsky put it. But now that the rustle of the book’s turning page competes with the flicker of the screen’s twitching pixel, we must consider the possibility that the book may not be around much longer. If it isn’t—if we choose to replace the book—what will become of reading and the print culture it fostered? And what does it tell us about ourselves that we may soon retire this most remarkable, five-hundred-year-old technology?

I still say the very name is sinister – suggesting the start of a fire, which I take as an allusion to book-burning. I still haven’t tried it, and don’t really feel the need to do so. As much time as I spend online, I still prefer my time with a book. Which is itself a wonderful piece of technology. That doesn’t need batteries.

Comments

  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Seth Godin has some great things to say about it here:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/06/random-thoughts.html

    It’s got me thinking about it … but they’re sold out for the next few months, at least. And $350 seems pretty steep.

  2. almostgotit says

    Get rid of the book? Nah, it will never happen.

    Hypertext is a revolutionary technology after the book, just as the book revolutionized the scroll.

    But books have this: you can flip through them. They have a smell. You can find old ones and out of print ones at libraries, used book stores, garage sales, a friend’s cabin. They don’t break down, run out of batteries, or require any technology (other than that most of us acquire in first grade) to operate. They don’t, as an entire category, “sell out” either.

    Not to worry.

    Speaking of book-as-technology, though, you have seen this video, have you not?!?

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