Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paper or Plastic?

On Monday night, a co-worker and I were chatting about the iPad. For those of you who have been in a coma for the past few months, the iPad is Apple's "revolutionary" new technology. I put that in quotes since I believe Apple might be getting a little willy-nilly with throwing the word "revolutionary" around. "Neat-o." I would agree with neat-o. But as history has shown us, to start a revolution you need the masses to buy into the idea. So far, they've only pre-ordered the idea. It's a bit early to say you have revolutionized the way people do things when no one has had the opportunity to do anything just yet.

As you've probably guessed, I'm not the sort to get excited about slick new technology until it's been around for a while and has proven to be lasting and useful (as opposed to much of what tech turns out to be). The technologies that make me go all slack-jawed and product-lustful are generally of an older type. (Get it? Older type?... sigh, no one appreciates puns anymore.) Gramaphones, sextants, fire, etc. That being said, I do own an iPhone and like it quite a bit. Except for the times when I've tried to use it as an e-reader... one of the main focuses of the iPad it would seem.

I am still a fan of the book as a physical object. Kindles and Nooks and iPads (oh my!) hold no interest for me when it comes to the reading experience. While traveling in France, I thought I'd try using the iPhone as a reader to lessen my load in terms of packing (I once traveled to New York with a suitcase for books alone... not my best decision). I downloaded Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood and got thirty pages into it before I hunted down Shakespeare and Company and bought a 900 page tome to lug about. I love Atwood's writing, but the "reading experience" was so annoying to me that I would prefer to add three pounds to an already shoulder-bruising bag than read on a computer screen for long stretches of time.

The funny thing is, most people consider the preference of computer over book a generational issue. Not true. I am almost a digital native (old enough to remember playing in the yard, young enough to know the Super Mario Brother's theme song by heart), yet here I am. At the same rate, considering how long I've been employed with the library, there is a strong chance I'm biased.
posted by jw