Saturday, October 18, 2008

Life in 'Kindle'garten

Late this summer I had the opportunity to use a Kindle . I had to promised to blog about it and not use it for a Frisbee. I agreed on both counts and here on my thoughts on that:

A Kindle makes you popular with people who are gadget nuts. They say, "Hey! Let ME see!"

A Kindle falls out of its cover a lot causing people who are gadget nuts to ask in alarm, "Uh, how much to they cost?"

A Kindle has an incredibly easy screen to read in all types of light causing the gadget nut to exclaim, "Whoa how do they DO that?"

I had the Kindle for about three weeks and I read two existing items that had been uploaded to it. I enjoyed the compact nature of the Kindle. It is wild to think that you can have so much reading material at the tip of your fingers as you go about your life. The problem is I don't live my life like that (yet, perhaps). This technology brings me the kind of refreshing joy the iPod did in that it happily minimizes the clutter by reducing material to bites and reduces the piles of paper in real time around me. However, unlike my iPod and music and audio files, I handle books and stories differently. I couldn't help but think if I read something on the Kindle that really floated my boat, that I would want to go and buy a copy of the title for my bookshelf. Perhaps this is just an adjustment I would need to make to evolve, it occurs to me.

I enjoyed the stories that I read on the Kindle and I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't take the online tutorial available at and instead choose to fumble around wishing there was an instruction manual. How dumb is THAT???? Of course, there is a manual ON the Kindle.

The positives are that Kindle connects to Amazon through wireless cell phone technology and there is no charge. If you come across a word you need a definition for it is very easy to look it up on the Kindle. With a simple tap on the line that has the puzzling word, it will take you to the definition of the most likely confusing words on that line. It does not translate languages, however, if there is something written in Latin, so I found out. Another positive is that you can highlight and save interesting passages to use in your blog later! Also if there is a concept that completely escapes you, there is free access to Wikipedia at your fingertips to help you sort it out.

The frustrating thing that I found with the Kindle was the design. I'm not sure what they were thinking when they put the whole thing together. There is hardly any place to put your hands without causing a page to turn or hitting the keyboard. I'm not comfortable putting my hands on any screen so most of the time I felt as though I was handling a porcelain Hummel. Also I noticed, in the helpful videos from Amazon, they didn't even show the outer book-like case that it does not fit comfortably in. Still, the case made it easier for me to handle the devise without turning pages. Would a back light option for reading in bed be impossible I wonder?

There is another issue however that preys on my mind about the Kindle package that I'm not comfortable with. The fact that one can only access items through one source "Amazon" is a flaw. To improve this item it would be available as an open source tool where a person could go to any site and upload whatever wares any artist was selling, including Amazon.

I think the technology of the Kindle is absolutely fabulous even if they need to go back to the drawing board in regards to the design of if it. I want to see this technology in every student's backpack with a full compliment of their textbooks therein. I want every textbook publisher to offer their product in this format and I want Western Washington University to be the first school to institute this as standard for every student. Something to lighten the student's load financially and physically would be a profound and positive change for everyone...except the lumber mills and publishers, of course...and maybe a Chiropractor or two. But perhaps they have had their day.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Your vision of Kindles in backpacks filled with textbooks makes me drool. We'll call it an "insta-diet:" use a Kindle and immediately lose ten pounds or more!..from your backpack. Then there's more room for a larger lunch =D.