People of the Screen?

Over at The New Atlantis, Christine Rosen has a very interesting piece on the differences between reading a printed text and reading digital text on a screen. (You can read the entire piece here.) She also takes some shots at Amazon's e-reader, called the Kindle. Here is a snippet:"The Kindle will only serve to worsen that concentration deficit, for when you use a Kindle, you are not merely a readeryou are also a consumer. Indeed, everything about the device is intended to keep you in a posture of consumption. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has admitted, the Kindle isnt a device, its a service.In this sense it is a metaphor for the experience of reading in the twenty-first century. Like so many things we idolize today, it is extraordinarily convenient, technologically sophisticated, consumption-oriented, sterile, and distracting."I wondered what my students would say about the piece, so I assigned the article and then borrowed a Kindle from the County library to let my students try. They loved the device, but that may just reinforce Rosen's point. I have been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I, too, really like it. The NY Times is delivered wirelessly to the device every morning and it is much easier to read on the Kindle than on a computer, but not as gratifying as reading the print version. (I miss the news print on my fingers.) Given the apocalyptic tone of Rosen's piece, I thought it would be appropriate to download Cormac McCarthy's The Road and read it on the Kindle. I previously read the book in hardcover and have not found reading the digital version any less compelling.I'm guessing that many Commonwealers will be naysayers, but you might want to give a Kindle a try. The only problem I encountered was that I could not find the work of any regular Commonweal contributors in the Kindle store. By the way, you can subscribe to some magazines on a Kindle. Perhaps Commonweal should be on the list.

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