Friday, May 29, 2009

Reduced to Kindling

As I face my annual duty as a table leader at the University of California system's Analytical Writing Placement Examination and the prospect of the grading of seventeen thousand examinations by two hundred of my closest friends, I always wonder when the day will come when I will be reading digital text rather than pen and paper lined manuscripts. One of the readers at my table put away her Kindle before we began, but should she be able to read AWPE examinations in the future on her device, it is likely that she will miss out on the collegiality and conviviality that goes along with the shared experience of reading writing from the UC system's incoming freshmen.

Those interested in the rhetorics of the late age of print that focus on particular technologies and platforms are likely following some of the heated discussions about the Kindle, Amazon's e-reading device. Of course, it's been the target of satire, as in the case of the video above that lampoons the possibility of a post-literate age, but it's also been an object of scholarly reflection about material culture by Ted Striphas and Alan Liu.

A number of academics are even composing what could be read as more conventional product reviews about their personal ubiquitous computing practices that range from the vitriol in Ian Bogost's list of the "Top Ten Reasons I Returned My Kindle" to Ellen Lupton's longing to "dematerialize some of my reading" in "Weighing In On the Kindle."

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