A world without paper cuts

20 04 2010

Reading with an iPod You're doing it wrong

It could well soon be the world we live in.

A world without electrical shocks and stomach burns may be another story for another day.

I will admit to a love/hate relationship with paper over the last 25 years. For the pursuit of drawings, doodles, story writing, schoolwork, reports, certificates, laboratory notes, my thesis, and, yes, I’ll even admit pen and paper roleplaying games, countless forests have been sacrificed , and in my shame I have been loathe to just throw them away. At my mother’s there still remains a suitcase filled with 3 years worth of undergraduate biomed notes and study guides that I have yet to throw away, because ‘I went to all that trouble’ and ‘maybe it will be of use one day’.

I blame my mother for not buying me a computer and exposing me to digital media. These days I have been making progress in keeping my teacher-in-the-making resources more digitally based (powerpoints, activity pdfs, and lists of links) – but I still have a growing colony of paper sheets that I have had to recently sanction a humanitarian cull of over the Easter weekend. The new heater screen and my ipod touch will try and keep my digital honour intact.

While I do belong to those who think digital media does reign supreme, I have remained skeptical of some of the bolder claims made about the demise of paper. I can see how newspapers, newsletters, comics and graphic novels, and even now conference programs are going the way of the dodo, but aside from encyclopedias and reference texts, I can’t see the good old fashioned book being given the flick. I enjoy my comic apps, but my Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Sherlock Holmes apps are just missing something. There is something exciting and wonderful about leafing through the pages of book that I have yet feel by thumb tapping, smearing, mouse scrolling or tilting the screen. But perhaps the new generation of young ones feel differently, although I argue this also has a lot to do with creating texts that make the most of new media. While these concepts of text-to-audio, increasing font size, and even making notes in the margin about how stupid that Potter boy and his snotty friends are being, are not that novel and groundbreaking, the ease at which they should be possible with new texts is. And that’s where digital might succeed in converting me. It would be almost sacrilegious for me to underline part of my book – but digital highlighting I could live with.

I am still not going to be joining the throngs lining up for the new iPad. Its ridiculous name belies its unwieldy nature. Anyway, bonus features such as a camera, USB ports and support for flash can be found on the even more ridiculously name WePad. Obviously Germans thought that Wii and iPad just weren’t awkward enough names for electronics.

Still, compared to a handheld device these new-fangled tablets are just too big. It feels like a step backwards, I want less to carry around thank you, not more. I want a holograph-projecting neck-chain that makes master over all that I survey. Think I am talking crazy. Check out Sixth Sense Technology being discussed by Pranav Mistry on TED. I can wait forever, but I will have one of these. I will have it.

Image credit: More blood on the ipod by Charles Sporn (CC by A-SA)




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