The Kindle Has Arrived—Carrying Technopolistic Questions!

by Feb 25, 2009Books, Tech10 comments

My Kindle arrived today! It’s very cool. I hope to liberate a lot of texts on my hard drive that I’m not reading.

But I’ve been reading Neil Postman’s Technopoly , and these lines struck me:

“Every technology is both a burden and a blessing…. Technology giveth and technology taketh away.” 4–5

I know what Kindle giveth, I think. But what doth it take away? Let me offer an example and then ask you. This book is on my Amazon wishlist:

I can get it for $15.17 with free Super-Saver Shipping, or I can get it for $7.99 on my Kindle.

What would you do?

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  1. Duncan

    Recommend that the Library buy it and then read their copy. On paper. 🙂

  2. Jeremiah

    Yes, but how much did you drop on that Kindle? There’s the taketh away.

  3. Mark L Ward Jr

    All right, smarties! =)

    For the record, I sold a monitor I no longer needed, and money from an old electronics sale that was withheld from me by the buyer is about to come in. I also saved my book budget for two months. Reading is important to me, and my wife is totally on board!

  4. bcollins

    – The ability to read the large number of free books available through Internet Archive/Google books in a convenient manner. That’s a big advantage. I’ve read a number of these books on my laptop, but the form factor of a laptop doesn’t make this super convenient . I’ve been tempted to buy a tablet PC to make for easier book reading, but my current computer still meets my needs, so I’m holding off.

    -To emphasize the convenience factor: Unlike a laptop, a Kindle is more portable. Can be turned on instantly. Works well outdoors.

    Taketh away:
    -My mind still works well with printed books. I usually remember where I’ve read something, and I can usually find what I’m looking for by remembering about how far into the book I was and where it was located on a page. With an electronic book, a lot of those tactile and visual cues disappear. I think I’d have a harder time finding thins I’ve read. (Of course, there are search features with electronic books, and the ability to copy and past into a notes file can compensate for this loss.)

    -I think it is more difficult to move around in an electronic book. It’s relatively easy to flip back a few pages and check a fact. This, I think, is harder with an electronic book if you don’t already know the exact page number. I’m noticing this as I read Wright’s response to Piper. I have Piper’s book in electronic format, and Wright’s in physical format. It’s much easier to flip around in Wright. And since I want to flip around in Piper to make comparisons, and so forth, I’m tempted to go out and by a hard copy of the Piper volume.

    In sum:
    -I’d say the advantages are such that I’d be willing to put up with them to read free online books (if the Kindle price were much lower).

    -In general, I’d still purchase physical books if I were buying a commentary or theological work. If I already had a Kindle, I’d consider buying pleasure reading since that tends to be a fairly linear reading experience (though most of that I pick up pretty cheap—e.g., $0.50 or $1—at used book sales).

  5. bcollins

    My first “in sum” point should be better stated: “I’d say the advantages are such that I’d be willing to put up with the disadvantages to read free online books (if the Kindle price were much lower).

  6. chadman

    Bro. bcollins comments got me thinking about a couple things.

    As a slow reader who gauges his reading progress not by # of books, but # of pages. An E-reader would hide the visual queue of just how much more I still got to go till I am done – that would be a good thing. But it would also hide that visual queue on the other end, lessening the satisfaction of accomplishment.

    Of course this means nothing to you guys. The last time you read less then 10 books in a week was when you were in the hospital getting your tonsils removed (back in 5th grade). 🙂

    The other issue with an e-reader: I mark up a book pretty good. Very fluid and very random – lines, underlining, arrows, different colors, circling, asterisks, brackets, squiggles, notes circling around the margin, etc. Wow, an e-reader would really hamper my creativity.

    Hello. Just wanted my comment to be bigger to Brian’s. 🙂

  7. chadman

    Hey, your comment programming code is too smart. There were supposed to be 20+ hard returns before the last sentence. Oh well – jokes on me. Maybe I should get back to work.

  8. Duncan

    Hey, new technopolistic question about the Kindle… says this:

    I just showed Tiff the Kindle for the first time. She tried touching the screen and was instantly disappointed that it’s not a touchscreen. Then she tried tilt scrolling. No luck.

    “How are you supposed to read on this?”

    I know that’s not how this thing works, but how do you like reading off this thing? Does it feel natural enough to use? Tell us how things are going with it once you’ve used it a while.

  9. Mark L Ward Jr

    My wife actually thinks the thing is very cool. Touch screens reportedly blur the text a bit—there’s an extra layer of plastic between your eyes and what you’re reading. And I can’t say I miss tilt scrolling.

    I’ll give report soon. I already have some thoughts down.


  10. Duncan

    Cool! Look forward to hearing about it. I thought Laura would like it.

    Don’t blame them for not doing touch screens… the thing is for reading from not for playing with after all.