Thursday, December 31, 2009

notes on digital reading

my lovely wife got me a kindle 2 for the holidays, and I thought that I might do what nearly every person who has purchased the thing has done and write about it on my blog (writing on the internet seems to be the primary hobby of kindle owners).
After a few days of using the thing, what really surprises me the most is how different it is from any other digital device. It's really impossible to do any kind of real comparison between an e-reader and an iphone or laptop or netbook or OLPC. For one, the Kindle is (as of yet) pretty much useless as a web device, due to the constraints of the software, connection, processor, and screen (in that order). it's not impossible that it might be usable to email or search with some OS improvements, but the lag in typing and the difficulty in browsing means that, at best, it is useful for reading a few mobile news sites and wikipedia (it actually works quite well as a wikibrowser.)
What is does do extremely well is show text on a screen. I'm going to go ahead and say right now that I prefer reading on the kindle to reading a paperback. I've never been a fan of portable books - I always struggle with hand cramps and sore necks. This object is the right size, weight, and look for reading. I actually went back to a book last night and was kind of annoyed. It's also fun to operate, has a good feel and good "cover" images (although the ability to customize would be nice).
The end result of all of this is that this might be the first digital device I've met that will actually end up slowing and concentrating my life rather than speeding and scattering. It's fun to use so I'll probably spend more time as a result reading novels, long-form magazine articles. Multi-tabbed browsing, skipping to minute 3 of a youtube video, quickfire rss feeding - this all now seems a little less important, and a little less fun.
It's interesting that by changing the priorities and limitations of a device, one's life can be subtly changed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009