26 November 2007

Kiddie Kindle?

This morning I finally read the Newsweek article, The Future of Reading, about Amazon's Jeff Bezos and the impact of the Kindle on reading, the book in general, and all that makes sense in the known universe. Frankly, I found the article terrifying! I wasn't as upset about the device's effect on reading, as I was about it's effect on writing. The idea of a novel as a collaborative process, wikified and edited by it's readership, gave me the shivers. Not every one's cup of tea, to say the least.

But as I was reading, I couldn't help but think about what a very adult device the Kindle is. I'm sure kiddie kindles are in the works, just like the digital cameras Fisher Price makes for toddlers, and the child friendly keyboards for computers. One of the appealing features of the kindle, according to the article, is that it's "bookish". It feels like a book--has a book's jes ne se quai. But how can one appreciate the bookish appeal of a device if one is still learning what a book is? Could I use a Kindle effectively in story time? How would picture book illustrations fare on a device no larger than a paperback? We see how artwork for LP's was diminished when reduced to the size of a CD jewel case (and it's hardly worth mentioning the tiny little image in an ipod's screen.)

Trekkies will be aware that when Captain Jean Luc Picard needs to relax after a hard day on the Enterprise, he reached for his Earl Grey (hot) and a massive tome of Shakespeare, not the tiny palm-sized tablet he uses for work (or, admittedly, that budding author Jake Sisko on Deep Space Nine uses. A generational preference, perhaps?) The point is, the death of the book has been predicted many times before. And although the Kindle doesn't so much represent the death of the book as its evolution, I reckon that the experiences of our youngest readers will dictate the success and viability of the Kindle, and not the Tech Heads (and I count myself as a Tech Head!) who love new gadgets.


Paula said...

I'm a total gadget head, but I cringe at the thought of yet another piece of technology that will somewhat remove the next generation of readers/writers one step further away from the real reading experience.

I love using my PC, but the fact that its use has pretty much killed good penmanship saddens me.

I hope there is no Kiddie Kindle. Gadgets like it are great for us busy adults, craving some spice in our lives. But I'd prefer if the kids were given the chance to grow into such technology.

Yankeerat said...

Thanks for the comment, Paula. I was still thinking about the Kindle this morning, especially in terms of its affect on writers. The article talked about how authors could go back to earlier works and edit them or modernize them. To me, it seems on a par with the debate about including instant replay into live sporting events. How much is lost when everything can be "fixed". Part of what makes sports so real--such a great human institution--is that it is sometimes grossly unfair (just ask any Englishman about Mardona's Hand of God, as an example.) How pedestrian would our discussions about Huck Finn be if Twain (or anyone, for that matter) had the ability to sanitize it and remove all objectionable language?

And why aren't blocks and crayons good enough for kids anymore?! I was thinking about the Kid Tough Digital camera this morning, too. When I was a little girl my favorite toy was the View Master. I thought it was near enough magic! My daughter, who is six, thinks it's quaint. One of her first words was 'DVD'. What have I done wrong?!

Okay, winge over ^_^

nicnaimless said...

Funny this article is already out. I just posted KidKindle.com and KindkleKid.com for sale on Ebay. Best offer is only $620 so far :(

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