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Over There (in the UK)

May 8, 2003 at 11 AM

Page Curl

How about a computer screen “that can be bent, twisted and even rolled up and still display crisp text.” According to an article in Wired News, there is now such a thing.

Of course this is exciting for some people because it means we’re another step closer to the electronic book, that holy grail of electronic engineering. This despite 25 years of solid evidence that nobody likes reading off of a computer screen. (Remember when we all thought we would work in “paperless offices”? Snort.) Granted, a hand-held screen that you can scrunch up in your hands may go a long way toward simulating parchment, but we’ve got a long way to go before we have a screen with 1200 or 2400 DPI resolution that doesn’t make your eyes hurt from being too bright or too dim and has a nice cross-hatched texture. Books have been doing all that and more (Pages that turn! Hard covers for protection!) for centuries. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve technology, but screens like this will only find a use totally unrelated to their inventors’ expectations. We aren’t going to replace books and newspapers with e-books and e-papers, and while the Dolce & Gabbana set might want screens “sewn into their clothes”, it’s safe to say that would be, like Billy Ray Cyrus and ice beer, a short fad.

Thomas Edison thought his new sound recording device might be useful for people to record their voices. Dictation: now, that’s the where the real money is, he said. Then someone else thought, wouldn’t it be neat to record a virtuoso concert and play it back for the masses, and while Edison was busy scoffing, the music recording industry was born.

So what will pliable, flat screens do? Think out of the box, people.

Comments

I’m sure the newspaper companies are drooling. Anything that makes it easier to read online papers on the toilet.

Brett | May. 8, 2003 — 5 PM

I really don’t think that these things will ever replace classic hard-copy books. There’s just something about the book being essentially UNALTERABLE that makes it liked by the masses, including tech-aware geeks and their technical manuals.

As for newspapers, I somehow doubt that they’re “drueling.” I agree that it would be great, particularly for the environment, to have a newspaper subscription whereby one would be provided with this electronic daily-updateable paper, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Bosko | May. 9, 2003 — 6 PM

i doubt they’ll ever be useful as handhelds, but more as screens in rooms and the like. microthin TVs - monitors on your wall that will be touch respondant

things you can roll up and pull down - no more projectors in the classroom (prob quite a big market there)

Paulski | May. 12, 2003 — 4 PM

Previously: Post Post-Whyte

Subsequently: From Blatch, With Love

May 2003
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