Nov 19
The next wave of change is coming to academia.

The Amazon Kindle is a prime example of a technology that is finding general acceptance in a first generation. Consumers are, for the most part, accepting Kindles as a component of day-in, day-out living in much the same way that they accept mobile phones, netbooks and laptops.

This isn’t the end of the story, however. There are applications of this technology that go far beyond reading the London Times or the Wall Street Journal on the train each day. The ‘e-book’ as it is called today holds forth the possibility of liberty from a wide range of necessary paper-bound products such as phone directories, school textbooks, magazines, reports of all kinds and more.

Although we have commonplace mobile phones, netbooks, laptops and the like, the problem with these devices has always been the screen. Basically, unless you train yourself to it and do it for awhile, it’s uncomfortable to read text for long periods on the typical screen offered by these devices.

New technologies, like the Amazon Kindle, demonstrate that mobile devices can offer screens and reading surfaces that make reading much easier and comfortable, but the type of graphics they produce and the type of graphics typically offered by the mobile devices like laptops and phones are quite different and specialized to the task. So far, there is little middle ground between them.

A laptop or phone, for instance, would be quite capable of the kind of text-to-voice sought by Dr. Maurer, but lack that kind of graphics that make for easy reading, and generally cost much more than what a Kindle goes for, since they are much more universal in capability and design.

We are not quite yet at the truly universal device, and perhaps, that is a result of jealousy over market share as it is underdeveloped technology, but we will soon enough be there, as certainly as books became unbiquitous and indispensible after the days of Gutenburg.

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