Where innovation springs forward, technology and advancement are quick to follow; however, protests are usually equally responsive, grating against the smooth gears of progress. A current example arises with the Amazon’s Kindle.
This device, roughly the size of a Reader’s Digest but measuring a slim one-third of an inch thick, is used as a readable platform for an array of online books in an ever-increasing online library available through a variety of internet bookstore-esque providers. These distributors include the powerhouse Amazon, but additionally smaller boutique-like shops that offer content from lesser-known authors or even the unpublished adventurer. The perks continue as more and more textbooks are becoming available at cheaper prices. With the ability to bookmark, make notes and highlight in this digital media form, it seems the printing press may have met its match.
However, this new technology has been met with great opposition. Many students claim the loss of the feel, the nostalgic crinkling and crackling, and swift onomatopoeia which accompany frantic, studious page-turning will disappear. Will professors not rage wildly against the possible conversion to these playful, Internet accessible, potentially distracting devices? I wager not so and for several reasons.
As the typewriter, wood-burning stove and analog TV set all had their day, so too will the traditional learning environment of universities. Students may feel uncomfortable with the lack of wood pulp between their fingers, but ultimately the outcome will prove such things to be unnecessary. It is certainly unfortunate that these aforementioned items exist only on the merit of nostalgia, but advancements are inevitable.
The Kindle is not that different from a regular textbook or novel. Its screen is arranged in the same contrast of gray-scale typically found in print-published books and all of the perks of note taking still exist. Even better, a thesaurus and dictionary are included with the purchase of the Kindle, providing more efficiency and hopefully more adequate understanding. As a technologically savvy generation, this falls neatly in line with other developments of the personal computer – the laptop, the iPod, the Smartphone, etc. An additional wireless device provides not only the weightlessness that would accompany the lack of books in a backpack, but also serves as an ecological improvement and economic incentive. Updates and new editions could be downloaded as addenda, allowing for stronger competition between online bookstores such as Amazon and BIGWORDS.com, a site that searches for the best deals on textbooks (including online versions).
Furthermore, textbooks exist for a primary purpose (beside the simple siphon of your parents’ money), and that is as a conglomeration of knowledge available in a simply packaged vehicle for you, the student, to learn, absorb, recite and use to impress your friends back home. Words are words and if both professors and students can create a trusting and professional environment for the usage of these Kindles, perhaps the hearth of knowledge will burn brighter (and more cheaply) than ever before.
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.