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.