essays and pithy thoughts


in notepad

My wife gifted me a Kindle Touch. Now, I already have a library of a few books through the service, as I’ve been using my smartphone to read stuff for the last year or two, but the experience on this is far better.

And I can’t help but thinking here, what’s the more revolutionary device, really: the $75 Kindle which does a far better job than just about all other devices in presenting long-form written works, or the $500 iPad?

Let me frame it this way: iPads are increasingly being pushed as a magical device very well suited for an educational setting. Being able to distribute course materials and even textbooks – a major expense – electronically instead of in hardcopy form is a very attractive budget-trimming proposal. The savings on copier upkeep, copy paper, copy toner, lost books, destroyed books, outdated books filled with nonsense, would be substantial. But is the iPad really the proper vehicle for it? Are things like a substantial processor and graphics capabilities, or a full-color back-lit screen at some obscene resolution, really necessary for that task? With a class size of 30, we’re talking about $15,000 to equip just one class; is that reasonable for any substantial portion of public schools?

Right, this year, we’ve equipped the entire 9th grade class of three thousand students with iPads. But, since that cost us $150,000, we’ve had to fire the freshmen English department. Have a great year!

How about another way: which is more important in terms of meeting the food consumption needs of the world – a locally sourced loaf of artisan bread made from scratch at $10, or the loaf of Wonder for $2.50?

Of course, the tech world, and a good majority of subsection of the world’s population that can afford an iPad, will presumably continue frothing at the mouth over every new iteration of every Apple product, having bought fully into it’s revolutionary nature. But the real device of revolution is the Kindle.