Recently a fairly rare thing occurred and Tom Crawford an I disagreed about something - and it wasn't who's turn it was to buy the round - it was about my post on the Kindle. That was/is a discussion about a specific device and how I think it can be best used. I did want to point out however, a paper that does something that I haven't really seen done before in comparisons of e-book readers (or really reading on a screen in general) vice reading from paper.
William Powers, media critic for the National Journal writing for Harvard's Shorenstein Center, has penned a powerful article entitled "Hamlet's Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal." As an anthropologist concerned with the interaction between culture and technology, this is one of my favorite quotes from the piece:
"There are cognitive, cultural and social dimensions to the human-paper dynamic that come into play every time any kind of paper, from a tiny Post-it note to a groaning Sunday newspaper, is used to convey, retrieve or store information. Paper does these jobs in a way that pleases us, which is why, for centuries, we have liked having it around. It's also why we will never give it up as a medium, not completely. For some of the roles paper currently fulfills in our media lives, there is no better alternative currently available. And the most promising candidates are technologies that are striving to be more, not less, like paper. Indeed, the pertinent question may not be whether the old medium will survive, but whether the new ones will ever escape paper's enormous shadow."
I think this distinction of paper as a technology versus paper as a cognitive medium is a powerful one and one that deserves more attention (forgive me if that attention has already been I am simply ignorant).