Tuesday, September 30, 2008

e paper

I just got back to work after taking a month off to spend with my wife and 2 1/2 month old boy. It was a some great family time involving some short jaunts around Oregon-to the coast, the high desert, and the Mt Hood area. The weather was characteristically perfect Oregon September weather. I was pretty successful in breaking away from work duties, but I probably spent too much time in front of a screen doing other things...like putting our CD collection on iTunes, following political and economic news, and otherwise futzing around.

When I got back here to Watzek, I heard that there had been a bunch of problems with the printers in our computer labs. Of course, this is a perennial problem. The library is part of a larger IT-run system for printing in which students have accounts, etc. It's pretty well designed, but always prone to failure. Something about combining the large capacities of todays digital media with the more limited capacities of a mechanical device just spells trouble.

I'm wondering if we should start trying to steer our students away from printing documents and encourage them to read documents on the screen. The Plastic Logic electronic reading device is the first device that I've seen that seems like it would work well as a substitute for printing out our PDF electronic reserve documents on paper. It's due out in the Spring.

It's got some strengths over the Kindle, in that it's as wide as a normal piece of paper and much more durable than glass case electronic devices. It's designed to be a "business" reading device rather than a recreational reading one, which might mean that it's well suited for academic type reading.