This New York Times article embeds media-visionary Nicholas Negroponte’s provocative comment: “The paper book is dead.” Though I have yet to buy an e-reading device like a Kindle or iPad (and still admittedly love old-fashioned books), the article is convincing that these devices are here to stay. For example, Negroponte estimates that the price of e-readers will fall from about $200 today to $50 or even $20 – meaning that for the price of a couple of books or magazines you could have a device that would allow you to read thousands. Perhaps somewhat farther in the future, “computer developers envision tablet computers so flexible that you will literally be able to roll them up and slip them in your bag or pocket — just as you would do with a newspaper or magazine today — and then unfurl them on the train.”
This, and my recent time spent at the Mobile Life Center in Stockholm, has gotten me thinking about the evolution of mobile devices. For years objects like typewriters with carrying cases, pens & paper, day planners, books, newspapers, magazines, public pay phones have allowed us mobile access to everyday information and communication tasks. Including consuming and organization information, creating content, making phone calls while on-the-go, etc. Where and when do our analog and digital mobile practices overlap? As laptops have replaced typewriters will e-books replace paper books? On what time-scale? Will they continue to exist side-by-side? Will particular demographics make more use of one or the other? How do we study that?