Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Kindled" a Headache, That's What...


Just the inability to keep all of the thoughts in my head as I read about Amazon's new Kindle book reader is giving me a headache.... Yes, I think Kindle might just kindle a revolution.

I get all the positives, including the brilliant wireless thing. And I understand the shortcomings. I don't really care about any of that, or the current state of the product. It's that I have this gut feeling (like when I first started using an iPhone) of the incredible potential of this device to be part of the dramatic transformation of our experience with the written word. An experience that I think it going to change in some incredible ways.

Imagine making notes on a passage in an electronic book, and having those notes available to others--including the author, who can respond and make real-time updates to the material. Imagine being able to join in an engaged dialog with community of concurrent readers in a forum, while you are actually reading a book. Imagine being able to drill down through hyperlinks to resources and references in real time, and being able to add your own and to see those of other readers.

I know that none of this is actually a part of the Kindle, but I can see it coming. I can see our experience of reading turning from a relatively passive act into an active collaborative experience. I'm not quite sure how we'll get there from here, but I believe the end result will be so dramatic that it will inevitably draw us to it. Like it's part of our human destiny.

Thinking of an adoption path, I'll tell you what I'd be willing to buy right away that might get us there quicker: a similar device with Google Reader on it. I'm not sure how I feel about spending $400 to then have to pay for each book I download, but I'd come darn close to spending that much to have handy, small, long-battery-life, wireless access to my aggregated feeds (which are free!) and would be great to be able to read no matter where I was. (Speaking of which, why isn't there a standardized way way to see and respond to comments so that this functionality could be added to our aggregators?) Add a few bells and whistles--including Kindle's SD slot to bring over audio content for listening--and I've got a brand new learning device I'd keep with me all the time.

6 comments:

  1. Hey Steve,
    Just read your post and wanted to note that Kindle does access Google Reader. I ordered one and it came in today and the Internet browsing capability is nice. I pointed it to the mobile version of Google Reader and it does a great job pulling up that content. I also uploaded a few PDF files and converted them and now have access to those documents on the Kindle. I'm pretty impressed with it.

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  2. It's $400 for the ability to read a book in a format that does not make a book easier to read or access. I cannot quickly flip pages as I can with a book. I cannot lend it to someone (terms of usage limits that). It isn't like an iPod where I can jump around with my musical tastes. When I read a book, I read that one book. I am not one to jump around with different books. For the price, at this point I will just buy the book. Now, you make it $100, now we're talking a viable price point to make me think twice.

    In some way you allow people to "share" their books with other users. Allowing someone to "check out" one of their books on their own Kindle would be nice. Don't allow the owner to access the file while it is "checked out." Make it like a personal library system.

    OH, and you get libraries into using this technology in such a way... then I would really be interested.

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  3. I've written a few points about the Kindle here and what I would really like to see...

    http://www.mguhlin.net/archives/2007/11/entry_3881.htm

    Take care,
    Miguel

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  4. Hi, Steve,

    There's a new online site that has all the qualities of an ideal book reader. It's just beginning. Unfortunately, though, it's not accessible via any of the book readers out there now:

    http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2007/11/03/book-glutton/

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  5. Tim: it's not clear to me how Internet access works on Kindle outside of buying a book. Amazon, in the details I have seen, is clear to say that it will never cost money to download a book through Sprint's network, but they don't clarify if you'll have charges for accessing other sites. If I'm not mistaken, one set of specs claimed you could go to wikipedia.org for free. Do you know if you're getting charged for using Google Reader? And if it's only the mobile version, I can't see how accessing on the Kindle will be much better than accessing on a mobile phone.

    James: agreed.

    Miguel: also agreed. Closed platforms just plain bug me.

    Larry: awesome referral. I've asked for a beta account!

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  6. Palm devices are a more open book reader. A Palm device with a folding keyboard connected to the internet through a cell phone might be more open and do most of the things mentioned. The screen would be about 2/3rds smaller. (A treo might do it too, but the screen is too small.) I think one can still hook a palm device to a cell phone. But the data plan required?

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