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Negroponte On OLPC's New Path, Plans For XO 3

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the he-oughtta-know dept.

Education 122

waderoush writes "After laying off staff and splitting the organization in two, Nicholas Negroponte and the One Laptop Per Child effort may be hitting their stride again. In an interview with Xconomy, Negroponte says he has a new model for getting XO laptops to kids in Gaza and Afghanistan — and reveals more ideas about the planned XO 3 tablet and the future of books. 'Paper books are really dead — they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says."

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122 comments

I like paper books (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827024)

And seeing as I have no tablet or kindle or iPad or nook or whatever the hell, I shall keep reading them.

From my cold dead hands Mr Negroponte.

Re:I like paper books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827072)

I have yet to have a pleasant reading experience that didn't involve ink on paper.

Re:I like paper books (3, Interesting)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827368)

I actually like both for aesthetic reasons. If it's for leisure reading a book can be cheap and easy to pack away. If it's for art, having a giant-sized coffee book with glossy pictures is nice too. However, if it's for work, I find it's useful to have both. The computer can keep track of the pdfs I accumulate better (citations, sorting, categorization, searching, etc) while printed-out paper offers a nicer form-factor for writing notes and really digging into the text. I'm guess though, that I'll start using ereaders, as opposed to laptops, when the newer generation of devices comes out: lighter, with color, capacitive touch, and a very good battery life.
I imagine though, that this is how the apocalypse starts: we all convert to ereaders, and a galactic EMP knocks out all our electronic literature.

Re:I like paper books (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828016)

I like both too, but for technical reasons.

With an e-book, I can tap a word and get a dictionary entry for it. And I never run out of bookmarks. And I can read in the dark.
Not to mention carry 250 books in my pocket.

With a real book, I most of all never have to worry about whether the format it's in will be supported ten or twenty years down the road. The only hardware requirements are eyes and hands, and the only software requirement is a brain, neither of which will go out of style in my lifetime.
And I can lend it to whoever I want, or even sell it.
Finally, depending on the paper quality, it has other uses too, which an e-book never will be able to help with.

Re:I like paper books (0, Offtopic)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33830022)

The only hardware requirements are eyes and hands, and the only software requirement is a brain, neither of which will go out of style in my lifetime.

Surely you jest - didn't you know that brains are already fast going out of style [wikipedia.org]?

Especially when we have two political parties, one of which has as its base an entrenched, uneducated set of idiots in urban ghettos, the other a base of entrenched, uneducated rural rednecks and each party happy to keep the system set up so that a real, solid, well-rounded education that includes critical thinking processes and actual techniques of learning (as opposed to memorizing stock answers to just barely pass standardized multiple-guess tests) is the last thing they will ever have the opportunity to experience?

Even worse when each of these parties campaigns on the idea that the other side's basically a collection of morons, and that they can have no valid points in any discussion at all?

It would seem the use of a brain has already gone out the window. Instead, we have to have instructions on a box of toothpicks [rinkworks.com], and warnings about "do not iron clothes while wearing them", lest some brain-donor injure themselves and launch a frivolous lawsuit [lawsuit.no] that somehow winds up with a $millions judgement because they managed to fit 12 other brain-donors into the jury and win the Lawsuit Lottery?

Re:I like paper books (1)

minorproblem (891991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33830154)

All those books, and photo albums that use to occupy space in peoples homes have now vanished. I have a small book shelf for technical books, or books that i cant bring myself to part with. Everything else i donated to my local library. It actually feels quite liberating to know that the only things keeping at my currently location are a few pieces of furniture and a car...

On the downside, if i lost my laptop, NAS and my online backups i would be devastated.

Re:I like paper books (1)

cmd (56100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827800)

Nobody will destroy existing paper books. They will be around forever, and new ones will always be made. This is not a one or the other scenario.

However, over time more and more books will be delivered in electronic format only and fewer and fewer paper books will be printed. It is inevitable; there are too many government agencies and (very large) corporations with their own interests and agendas that are dependent on this.

That electronic book readers may have benefits for the user is only incidental, sugar to make the medicine go down.

a visionary (4, Insightful)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827032)

"'Paper books are really dead — they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says.""

He sounds totally rooted in reality to me.

Re:a visionary (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827384)

I'm sure this prediction will work out like many of his other predictions and ambitions. About as vaprous and fragrant as what comes out my ass after eating a nice large beany burrito.

Re:a visionary (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827434)

You must eat a different kind of large beany burrito than I do, because the end result is usually much more liquid than vapor.

Irony (2, Funny)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827500)

I'm sure this prediction will work out like many of his other predictions and ambitions. About as vaprous and fragrant as what comes out my ass after eating a nice large beany burrito.

You must eat a different kind of large beany burrito than I do, because the end result is usually much more liquid than vapor.

Indeed, and liquid is not vaprous.

BA: Baldric, do you know what irony is?

BR: Yeah, it's like goldy or bronzey, only it's made of iron.

Cheers,

Re:Irony (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827562)

Uh... ByOhTek was being sarcastic, not ironic. He was saying most of Negropontes predictions ARE vaporous in a sarcastic manner.

Re:Irony (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827640)

I'm laughing at myself too, be sure of that. :)

It seems we're all missing the mark today, even ByOhTek -- his sarcasm suggests the opposite of what he's saying, which fits with your liquid, but doesn't jive with calling Negroponte's claims vaprous. And I'm enough off-the-ball today that my feeble attempts at humour are falling through, so I think I'll just drink my coffee now and try to do some actual work.

Cheers,

Re:Irony (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827726)

What, just because your burritos give you the runs rather than gas... doesn't mean all do that. Damn, get better burritos.

Better burritos (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828744)

Damn, get better burritos.

The best "burritos" I've had were in Monterey, CA, at the weekly farmers' market on Alvarado Street there. A local Indian restaurant (India's Clay Oven) always had a booth, with a big sign across the top: "When is a burrito not a burrito? When it's a naan burrito!" Mm, rogan josh, palak paneer, and basmati saffron rice all rolled up in a big piece of naan... Yummy.

And less gas than most any burrito autentico that I've had. :) Though beware the caca fuego if you get any of the super spicy curries!

Cheers,

Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (2, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827556)

Or like radio, yeah, remember how TV killed radio? Or the VCR, remember how that killed the cinema?

Meh. Sure, the market for paper books might shrink back from its peak, but it's not disappearing, and certainly not overnight.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, What a maroon!

Cheers,

Re:Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (4, Insightful)

Coeurderoy (717228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827892)

Well, my first reactio was similar, but living in a 3rd world country where access to book is diffucult and "piracy" normal (including on books) I think he might be "righter" than we think.

Currently there are "roughtly" 1 billion people living in countries where the majority reads at least "some" and 5 billion who live in counties where only a minority reads.
(nb: of course india, china, etc have great literature, and la hogera in santa cruz is trying very hard to get good interesting local writers to the local market, but the realitly is that the wast majority of people in emerging countries do not read for "fun", they read if they are ordered to by their employers...., because:
If you are poor and a "cheap low quality pirated book" cost 4 to 5 hours of work you will not offer 100 hours of work every year to your child, so the child will not connect "reading with fun" (exept the statistical "lucky" one outlier)).

Moreover there is little avaiability of recent outside book (a hard cover foreign book can cost about 50% of a basic montly salary).
So execpt the pirated copies of some blockbusters made popular by pirated copies of foreign movies, you do not read recent foreign books (softcover classics are about the end of it).

But "everybody" has access to computers (mostly of course in cyber cafés)
and most students use pirated PDF's of school books, not just because they cannot affort the 30..40$+ * 10..20 they would need, but because:
Amazon do not deliver in many 3rd world countries
and other providers can take up to 2 month to get the book to you (assuming you have an internationally valid credit card)
and the local bookshop are not very efficient (or just would not bother because they know you will hassle them when they ask 3..4 time the "amazon" price because they have to pay: the book, the transport the customs (40%)..

So ebooks are the best way to get books to these 5B people

And in 10..15 years we might see that 80% of the population reads about 50% with a 90/10 cut for ebooks and 20% will have a 30/70 cut because they only use it for brain sugar and techno books, but at the end ===> more ebooks than books, and more "influence"

   

Re:Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828706)

I feel for you. Everyone should have a right to be educated and access to (e)books is central to that.

There are (slowly) more options becoming available... Khan Academy and Project Gutenberg for example. Even entering "free book downloads" in Google returns a lot of stuff.

I would imagine that print-on-demand services would help in cases where it's not offered in other places. I keep hearing about them but I've yet to see one in person... do they really exist (outside a lab)? That would enable you to get around the physical delivery issues and provide a large set of choices without taking too much physical space... there are some things such as textbooks which work better printed than in an ebook format. Whomever successfully implements this in areas such as these will do the world a favor, and possibly also make some money in the process.

Agree, but perhaps you missed my point (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828938)

but at the end ===> more ebooks than books

That's entirely possible, but also not what I was refuting.

My point wasn't that eBooks won't grow; the market for them is definitely growing. My point is that paper books are not about to disappear, and probably never will, so long as there are readers and some means of making paper.

But then again, maybe Negroponte is not claiming that paper books will disappear. Maybe he's just being obtusely literal ("paper books are dead" = "dead-tree books"?), and we've all just missed the joke.

Cheers,

Re:Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829682)

You should add foreing languages and availability to that problem. Even if editorials publish a translation, will it be available everywhere? Sometimes translations are done by particulars and distributed in electronic form as they are not available. Also something that editorials don't think it will be massively popular won't be in all brick and mortar stores.

Re:Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (2, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828002)

Or like radio, yeah, remember how TV killed radio?

You can't watch TV while driving a car, but you can listed to radio just fine, which I guess is one of the main reasons why radio still exists. I haven't listened to radio outside a car in ages. Same with VCR and cinema, different tools, different purposes, just with a bit of overlap.

eBook vs paper books on the other side is different, same job, same requirements, really no fundamental difference. eBooks still have to become a bit faster and cheaper to fully compete with regular books, but once there, there is really not much reason left to get a regular book.

Probably different enough reqs... (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828888)

eBook vs paper books on the other side is different, same job, same requirements, really no fundamental difference.

I hear your points, but:

  • Water
  • Power
  • Breakage
  • Pets
  • Static electricity
  • Peanut butter
  • Five-year-olds

All of these (and many more) remain fundamental durability issues, and in all cases, dead-tree books come out on top (and with water, that could be taken quite literally). My argument is not that eBooks will never make it -- they already are making a market for themselves, and that market has lots of room to grow. My argument is instead that Negroponte is either a) speaking hyperbolically, or b) speaking via ventriloquism or via an interpreter, as he's clearly experiencing a rectal-cranial inversion.

Or maybe he's just being obtusely literal ("paper books are dead" = "dead-tree books"?), and we've all just missed his deadpan humor.

Cheers,

Re:Exactly: Paper books are like vinyl records (1)

mean pun (717227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828304)

Or like radio, yeah, remember how TV killed radio? Or the VCR, remember how that killed the cinema?

Meh. Sure, the market for paper books might shrink back from its peak, but it's not disappearing, and certainly not overnight.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, What a maroon!

Then again, analog cameras are almost extinct, and so are typewriters. Digital cameras and word processors have been mocked just as much in their early days, and were rejected just as much for sentimental reasons. Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.

Key to replacement seems to be use case (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829092)

I hear you, but the examples you give have a notable difference from the paper book vs. ebook comparison. Looking at digital cameras vs. film cameras and word processors vs. typewriters, and also CDs vs. audiotape (and now digital downloads vs. CDs), the new technologies rendered their forebears effectively extinct by fully covering the older techs' use cases, while offering some compelling new feature.

Conventional photographic film is difficult in many ways -- you can't see the picture until long after it's been taken, you wind up with many pictures you don't really want but still have to pay for development, the film itself might go bad, etc. etc. Typewriters have their own flaws -- the keys jam, the paper gets crinkled, the lines are off or crooked, the ink smears, corrections are a hassle, etc. Audiotape too -- you get cracks and pops, the tapes can get eaten, they just plain wear out, you have to take the time to fast-forward or rewind to get to where you want, etc. The replacement technologies resolve these shortcomings -- and, importantly, their new shortcomings are less or different enough that the new tech can fully supersede the old.

Ebooks do offer new compelling features that improve on dead-tree technology, true enough. I think this explains why the ebook market is growing, and will likely continue to grow. But ebooks also entail a raft of issues that paper books don't have -- power, relative fragility, DRM, data corruption, etc. For this reason, I expect paper books will continue far into the future, persisting in ways that audiotape, typewriters, and photographic film have not.

Cheers,

Re:a visionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827638)

Granted I think introducing some level of technology to the 3rd world is a good thing, especially if its to increase the level of education, however don't these places need infrastructure and utility first and foremost?

Might help to have a stable government, but I guess we'll get to that when the majority can read and write.

Re:a visionary (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827786)

Part of the problem is that a lack of knowledge can result in poor infrastructure that is actually more dangerous than no infrastructure at all. Utility, likewise, has to reach a certain standard before something really is better than nothing. Many past (and present) disasters are the result of having something that is worse than nothing. Helping third-world nations become disaster areas is probably not useful.

You are actually better off developing knowledge first (up to a point) and then bringing in the rest. What is that point? Frankly, I haven't the foggiest. Looking at Western civilization, there seem to be alternate periods of building quality structures and periods of building structures that collapse at the slightest provocation. It may be possible to infer from that the minimum level of knowledge the West required in order for a given level of technology to work as intended.

I DEFECATE IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827662)

And may you step in it, Africa-hater!!!

How is the XO doing? (0)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827048)

I wonder how the XO is doing. The last time I heard about it, it was not doing well at all! Now the fella is talking about XO ver. 3! Talk of ambition.

Focus! (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827052)

OLPC needs to reel in its ambitions and focus on something it can deliver as promised. These guys are starting to corner the market in low cost vaporware and pipe dreams.

Re:Focus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827566)

How is it vaporware if about a million units have been delivered?

Re:Focus! (2, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828048)

Have you ever looked at the software? There is still a lot of areas that are simply incomplete. The button to view source for example still hasn't been implemented as far as I know, the pressure sensitive areas left and right from the touchpad that can be used for writing with a pen remain unused as well. I haven't seen a good book reading application for the thing either and the whole Journal still feels like an unusable mess.

Re:Focus! (4, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827604)

To be fair, when the OLPC program was announced, a laptop less than $600 was considered absurd. But the threat of the OLPC program lit a fire under Intel, and created their low cost platform initiative. Negroponte, in many ways, is responsible for the $200 netbook that I'm typing this on right now.

He seems aware of this phenomenon, when he says that threatening to build a $100 tablet may be enough to spur private industry to build a $100 tablet. He's learning.

I don't know. The OLPC project is basically founded on dreams and whimsy, but has become very real very quickly. They seem to be much more savvy now than when they started. I'm willing to give them a learning curve, especially with how grounded the XO 3 project seems compared to XO 2 or XO 1.

Re:Focus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828492)

Agreed. The entire project started as a research project and mostly stayed a research project. A highly influential one, as you indicate. And of course he's learning. He expected to learn, that's inherent in a research project. You start with a (usually fairly naive) dream, and see how close you can get in the real world. If you're lucky and good, you learn a lot (and teach the world a lot) along the way, and if you're really lucky and good, you end up somewhere reasonably close to the original dream. If you know beforehand that you can get to your goal it's not research, it's product development.

Re:Focus! (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828778)

So long as he influences in a positive way, everyone gets what they want. There's still profit to be had in these low-cost devices, maybe not as much, but you get a HUGE additional market and more wealthy clients (read: not developing nations) can rev them every year if you want. Who cares about upgrading when your data is stored in the cloud and the new device is only $100?

The key is that BOTH groups gain from this influence, and I thank him for his efforts. Education brings the world's standard of living higher and promotes humankind's progress as a whole. One of these previously-uneducated people may solve the cure for cancer, or do something equally important, and they're just out there waiting to be discovered. Give 'em a chance.

Re:Focus! (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828920)

The insane price points for his projects really kill his credibility, though. Judging from past experience, I highly doubt that the XO 3 will cost less than $200, let alone $75.

Re:Focus! (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829286)

But the new Kindles are like $140 or so already. though not a fully functional tablet, I've been considering one, but my biggest concern is the availability of non-drm content. I mainly read programming books, and don't mind the cost so much as the space they take up. I've tried the demo Nook at BN, but really didn't care for it, the few people I know with Kindles love them... I just want to be able to own/archive my books myself. To not have to carry around the 400+ page behemoths around is a bonus.

Re:Focus! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33830150)

Why not just get one of those iPad knockoffs? You can get one of those for $155 [chinagrabber.com], it comes with Android, and since it is ARM I'm sure there is an open Linux you can run as well. If you want to have more than just books in a box and want to run your own formats it looks like the way to go.

Re:Focus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828484)

Ha, considering how badly OLPC got screwed by their early partners, I am not sure you can really fault them for their ambition. as another poster pointed out netbook only exists cause OLPC was a driving force behind the idea of that formfactor.

Re:Focus! (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#33830006)

Actually I'd say Negroponte needs to be kicked to the curb and instead of constantly coming up with new vaporware they should be using the economies of scale to actually deliver what they promised originally which was a $100 rugged laptop that any child could afford to own. Instead he has burnt one bridge after another, first refusing to sell to the first world (what, we got no poor kids in America? That's news to us in the south.) and then trying to force charity with his "get one give one" which made them too high for most to look seriously at, then he ran off all the FOSS developers by playing kissie with MSFT, now he just keeps coming up with more vaporware which if XO1 is any indication will be 100%+ over original price and go pretty much nowhere.

The original XO design was a good one, and with the economies of scale you could easily get it down to the original $100 price point and flood the world with cheap rugged laptops for all the world's kids. sadly it looks like Negroponte just don't have enough sense to actually run a business and get those laptops into the hands of kids.

delivery by cluster bomb (3, Funny)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827058)

Seriously, why doesn't paste work in this stupid box any more? (Google Chrome 6.0.472.63, btw)

Anyway

Negroponte says he has a new model for getting XO laptops to kids in Gaza and Afghanistan

Now you see why the US didn't sign on to the treaty banning cluster bombs - they are planning to use them to deliver XO laptops.

It's cheaper, faster, and much safer for the delivery person.

Re:delivery by cluster bomb (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827180)

Now you see why the US didn't sign on to the treaty banning cluster bombs...

If the unexploded bomblets from a cluster bomb resembled cash bribes you can be sure the treaty would be signed. Otherwise there would be many politicians with missing appendages.

Re:delivery by cluster bomb (0, Offtopic)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827480)

It's not just paste.

I have frequent trouble getting the word spelled "r-e-p-l-a-c-e" into posts.

Something in the script is probably doing an eval in a way that considers it a keyword.

Which I'm sure perks up the ears of code-injection sploiters.

Re:delivery by cluster bomb [ot] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827706)

Also Chrome 6.0.472.63 here. Paste has been incredibly spotty for me in Slashdot for a while now. Ugh.

Re:delivery by cluster bomb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827792)

I get it in Chrome and Safari. I've also had some other problems with copy/paste with the search bar in Chrome, so I was wondering if maybe it's general problem with copy/paste in webkit that's carrying over and that Slashdot just happens to hit hard? But I'm not a programmer, so who knows...

Also, I have a lot of problems with getting back into a text box if I've clicked elsewhere, either in the window or in another program. And god forbid I've typed enough to go past the original size of the text-box. It's a good 30 second workout to get back in to continue editing.

going offtopic here... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828318)

"Seriously, why doesn't paste work in this stupid box any more? (Google Chrome 6.0.472.63, btw)"

Well there's your problem. It works just fine for me in Firefox 3.6.10. IMHO Chrome has gotten one thing right (splitting different tabs into different processes so you can kill them and get the memory back) and about a dozen other things wrong. Prime among them, switching back to Chrome after working on something else for a little while will cause my ENTIRE COMPUTER to freeze while Chrome slowly refreshes the page one scanline at a time. I'm really not surprised to hear it has other problems as well.

I used a book today (5, Funny)

Mprx (82435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827156)

First I had to get up and retrieve it from its special storage shelf. I was surprised at how heavy it was. It didn't have any search functionality, so I had to manually find the index, and then find my search term in the index. The pages didn't have any backlighting, so I had to move it to face the light so I could read it easily. The contrast ratio was rather poor. Most of the words in the book were not indexed at all, but luckily my search term was present. I couldn't click it, and I had to manually find the correct page again. There wasn't any highlighting either, so I had to manually search the page too. I read my information, and them put the book back onto its storage shelf where it uses a ridiculously huge amount of space.

On the plus side, the resolution was high, but that's not enough to make up for all the other annoyances. Books are obsolete.

Re:I used a book today (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827282)

First I had to get up and retrieve it from its special storage shelf. I was surprised at how heavy it was. It didn't have any search functionality, so I had to manually find the index, and then find my search term in the index. The pages didn't have any backlighting, so I had to move it to face the light so I could read it easily. The contrast ratio was rather poor. Most of the words in the book were not indexed at all, but luckily my search term was present. I couldn't click it, and I had to manually find the correct page again. There wasn't any highlighting either, so I had to manually search the page too. I read my information, and them put the book back onto its storage shelf where it uses a ridiculously huge amount of space.

On the plus side, the resolution was high, but that's not enough to make up for all the other annoyances. Books are obsolete.

You mean your books don't instantaneously beam their knowledge directly into your conscious mind? If I were you, I'd demand a refund, clearly your books are in improper working order!

Re:I used a book today (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827306)

Another large annoyance with paper books: when Amazon goes out of business (or changes their T&C), they will send squads of armed goons into your home to rifle through your bookshelves and remove all the books you ever bought from them.

Re:I used a book today (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827456)

I opened up my PRS-505 today looking for a book. I could write a tome twice as long as yours detailing the problems dealing with that little beasty and completely ignore the benefits of the format, just as you have. Just to mention a few: no backlight, so I had to turn the page towards the light to read it... and it crashed while rendering the page I wanted to read, so it took five minutes to reboot, rescanning every document to extract titles from each PDF. After it rebooted, the clock was off by ten years, which for most things would be a detriment, but for this it is a benefit: the DRM on "library" books checked out is based on the reader clock, and I now have 1000 more days to read the books I checked out for two weeks (three months ago.) Oh, while it was busy scanning every document, it consumed 1/3 of the charge on the battery.

Or a kewl final problem: you can plug it into a computer USB port and it will recharge, but if you plug it into a USB POWER source (no computer) it will happily keep running the CPU trying to enumerate itself on the bus, never allocate power for itself to charge, and drain the battery in an hour or less. BUT, you can plug in a coaxial power adapter right next to the mini-USB connector and it will happily charge up quickly. ($24.95 for the AC adapter from Sony. $2 for a USB-coax cable from electronics shop.) And if you use the "safely disconnect" option under Windows to safely disconnect the beasty from your computer but don't immediately disconnect it, it goes back to "trying to connect" mode and discharges the battery.

Re:I used a book today (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828594)

The contrast ratio was rather poor.

That's backwards. Paper, even cheap newsprint, has a much better contrast ratio than any computer display. That may eventually change, but for now, it remains one of paper's big advantages.

Re:I used a book today (0)

Mprx (82435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829510)

Newsprint has a contrast ratio of about 10:1. Even a TN panel LCD far exceeds that.

Re:I used a book today (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828614)

Isaac Asimov wrote a short story [wikipedia.org] back in 1954 about a couple of kids finding za "real book" in an attic.

For reference works, I agree that electronic beats dead tree. But for fiction, I'll take a real book any day. I'm in the middle of Doctorow's Makers and keep wishing they had a paper copy in the local library (I own a paper copy of his Down and Out in teh Magic Kingdom).

I have to turn the computer (a netbook) on, wait for it to boot, open a file manager to find it, then open it, then find whereever the hell I was whan I last stopped reading.

With a paper book I take it off the shelf (it weighs less than the netbook but is about the same size) and instantly open it to where I was when I last read, as I left a paper bookmark. It works in any light; I can read it outside in the sun if I wish. Can't do that with the e-version.

Plus, about the only way my paper library will disappear is if my house catches fire (although I've had one or two volumes lost, stolen, or loaned out and never gotten back). With an ereader, if the device dies, so does my library. I can give it away or sell it, unlike an ebook. I don't have to worry about battery life.

But I have no Britannica; wikipedia serves that purpose far better. Other research takes a trip to the library.

Re:I used a book today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33829550)

lol no one reads books anymore. fail.

What's that mean? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827210)

"Paper books are really dead -- they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,"

Huh? I've seen quite a few books recently. They're not gone.
"they're gone [...], they're creating tablets"
The paper books are creating tablets? Is he high on drugs or is that a literal translation that makes less sense in English?

Re:What's that mean? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827496)

The paper books are creating tablets?

Not only that, but they are both gone and create tablets.

Sounds like Mr. Negroponte has hired G.W.B. as a speech writer.

Re:What's that mean? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827504)

I think he's talking about the books being "dead" in regions of the world where they were never alive to begin with. In most of the first world e-books are restrained in market share due to a fairly evolved and economical shipping infrastructure. Places like Afghanistan and Gaza have no such luxury so cheap and highly portable network-enabled tablet computers are quickly filling a long-standing gap between demand and supply.

Book + Book = tablet(s) (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827536)

I left a copy of Little Women on the table beside a copy of Band of Brothers, and when I came back the net day, there were empty champagne bottles everywhere, and Big Chief tablets all over the room.

Gaza? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827258)

If Israel isn't willing to allow basic supplies into the territory, is it realistic to think these laptops will somehow be let through?

Re:Gaza? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827866)

Perhaps its because Isreal does allow supplies in. They just want to see what your bringing in first.

Re:Gaza? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828554)

It is truly unfortunate that Israel had to turn away your shipment of apostrophes.

Re:Gaza? (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828640)

"It is truly unfortunate that Israel had to turn away your shipment of apostrophes."

Hamas took the UN apostrophes at gunpoint and is now selling them in their own stores at a dramatic markup.

Re:Gaza? (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828616)

According to reality, Israel lets everything without an obvious and direct military purpose into the country. There are and have been plenty of computers, food, medicine, cell phones, and other consumer goods in Gaza. You just need to stop reading the antisemitic websites and meet the truth. Gaza isn't Darfur, it's the welfare capital of the world.

Re:Gaza? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829084)

Ahhh the anti-semite card. Always a treat to see that one played.

According to reality, being critical of the policies of the state of Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic.

So tell me, how does it serve the welfare of the people living in the welfare capital of the world when their homes are destroyed by military action, and then basic rebuilding supplies are banned [timesonline.co.uk]? After significant international pressure, Israel has finally lifted some aspects of this blockade, but the situation in Gaza remains both surreal and humiliating.

But of course it's possible all my information is wrong and is based on some twisted anti-semitic worldview, and Gaza is indeed a welfare capital paradise. When are you moving there? Can I come too?

Re:Gaza? (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829854)

"According to reality, being critical of the policies of the state of Israel is not the same as being anti-semitic."

Funny, I just read an article by a truly out antisemite, complaining about how people were too afraid to complain about Jews and instead complained about Zionists. He went so far as to say how people would agree with everything he said about Zionists, but the moment he said the same things with the word Jews, they grew uncomfortable. It's just code words and you know it.

As for rebuilding supplies, they're far from banned. They're just limited and monitored, albeit badly, to ensure that they're not redirected to Hamas, you know, like most cars, medicine, and other forms of aid are.

I love how people hate the Jews so much, they'll advocate for twisted, bigoted, purely evil people like Hamas.

Re:Gaza? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829942)

It's just code words and you know it.

Don't presume to tell me how I think and how I mean things. I never used the word Zionist. I used the word state. Go buy yourself a dictionary.

I love how people hate the Jews so much,

Really? Please, tell me more about what I love and what I hate.

they'll advocate for twisted, bigoted, purely evil people like Hamas.

Where did I do that exactly? Oh wait, that's just you putting words in my mouth again.

FWIW, I think Hamas is a corrupt and dangerous organization that has no business running a lemonade stand, let alone a fledgling state. But you know what? That's the reality on the ground, and collective punishment (of each and every resident of Gaza) isn't the solution. Is a matter of fact it's illegal under international law.

But I digress - you were busy telling me how I think and what I believe in. Please continue.

Paper books are really dead -Negroponte (1)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827266)

Negroponte is really dead -books

Borrowed from the God is dead -Nietzsche, Nietzsche is dead -God meme without apologies.

Paper books are easy (2, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827292)

Books are quickly accessible, portable, need no batteries and just feel good in your hand while reading them.
I doubt books will ever die, unless we elect Sarah Palin for President.

Re:Paper books are easy (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827396)

His argument (which seems based soundly in actual experience in the field) is that in places like the article references the infrastructure for shipping (or lack thereof) makes shipping books rather costly in the quantities that an internet-connected computer can get them. I'm by no means a supporter of the tablet computer form factor but this actually makes a lot of sense to me.

Re:Paper books are easy (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827992)

makes no sense to me. you can buy a hell of a mountain of books or DVD in a third world country for $100. pirated? unauthorized copy? no one gives a shit over there. I speak from experience.

Re:Paper books are easy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827444)

@digitaldc my #cock feels good in your hand, too.

Re:Paper books are easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33827474)

>unless we elect Sarah Palin for President ...

What?

Re:Paper books are easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828192)

Meh, imagine sort type of electronic paper book (similar to the paper's in the Harry Potter movies) with a battery that lasted for years (they already last for weeks). I'd much rather have that than a real paper book. It would be lighter and smaller than carrying a stack of books around.

Re:Paper books are easy (1)

siglercm (6059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828500)

"... unless we elect Sarah Palin for President."

Seriously, dude, get over yourself. You're acting as the PC police, attempting to regulate the Moral police. Don't you understand that your words are self-contradictory?

Pros - Cons (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827560)

Paper Books:
Pros:

  • Can have "unlimited" Visual Real Estate (ever have four reference books open and start bouncing between them?)
  • No power needed to use (except light to see the book)
  • Comes with license to use "for the life of the book".
  • Higher resolution than most EBook readers.
  • Easier to "skim" for most people.
  • Water Resistant (even dropping it in the bathtub MIGHT not render it unreadable, but may shorten its lifespan).
  • Can withstand more "abuse" than an eBook Reader (throw one out the window/drop it 50 time off a table, and the book is still readable if a bit bent).
  • Can be used while airplane is taking off/landing.
  • Can be easily resold to new owner.

Cons:

  • Takes up Physical Space

eBooks/Book Readers:
Pros:

  • Do not take up physical space (can pack LOTS of books for trip, or carry around a library of reference books)
  • HyperLinks/Cross References/built in Dictionaries.
  • Can be backlit (good for reading in the dark).
  • Often come with Basic web browsing (at least).
  • eBooks (assuming license/source) have the potential to outlast their Paper siblings.
  • Can be copied to multiple people/locations (assuming License/DRM permits).

Cons:

  • Requires power source (needs to be recharged every X hours of use, which may not be sufficient).
  • Might be deleted / have license revoked without warning (assuming DRM infested files).
  • Need to be treated like all other electronic devices (protect from exposure to elements/force/etc.)
  • Lower Resolution

Most of the Pros of one Medium are the Cons of the other. I miss any biggies?

Re:Pros - Cons (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827962)

Good list! I might add:

Paper Pro:

Paper books handle complex images and layouts much better.

A carefully placed book can be a conversation starter.

Archives well for long-term ownership.

Used books can be cheaper.

Digital Pro:

Digital books have search functions.

It's possible to read from an ebook at home, switch to an iPhone on the subway, and read on a laptop at work on your lunch break. I.E. the ebook can live across devices.

Digital books let you adjust font / size / etc to suit your own eyes and reading style.

Text-to-speech

Re:Pros - Cons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33828220)

A carefully placed book can be a conversation starter.

You're telling me.

Here's what I do:
- hollow out a book with an interesting cover.
- place book over my erect penis
- ask visiting girl (or mailman or jehovahs witness) "have you read this book"?
- flip open the book to reveal it's contents (my cock, see above)
- whammo! Let the conversation begin!

Re:Pros - Cons (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828040)

Some of your pros/cons are based on assumptions that are not always true. That's not to say that they're wrong, just not always correct.

My reader is software running on an n900. The power source is irrelevant, while the phone drains battery like a bitch if I put it in offline mode and just use it to read then it lasts 90-100 hours. I'm never away from a plug socket for that long.

There is no DRM in my reader or on the books that I have. They are backed up to enough places in an open file format that they can be considered to be immortal, and can be freely distributed. The screen is 266dpi, which is better quality than a lot of paperbacks.

The plane restriction is a good point - but newer planes are getting around it. I've been in one flight already that allowed iPads while everything else was forbidden. It is slowly moving in the right direction.

The point about physical space goes further than you say. It is true that you can take more with you in the case that you state. But also: I can take my entire library with me everywhere that I go. This means that I can have books with me that I don't know that I will want/need in advance. That is a serious advantage over physical books.

Lastly, I had no idea until I started using a reader, but I prefer white text on a black background. It looks very weird at first, but is much easier on the eyes. You don't get that option in physical books because of the amount of ink it would consume.

Re:Pros - Cons (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829466)

Paper: You own the book; you do NOT license it. You can resell it or give it away. It belongs to you. It is physical property. There is no license, no EULA, and should an idiot publisher try to put a EULA on one of the pages he'll be laughed out of court.

That's the #1 biggest advantage of paper over ebook.

eBooks do NOT have the potential to outlast their Paper siblings. A book can last well over a century, and there are books in existance that are hundreds of years old. I own books older than me, and I'm 58. No electronic media has ever lasted that long, and it's unlikely your ebook media will either.

Someone is going to be horribly dissapointed (2, Interesting)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827574)

> 'Paper books are really dead -- they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the /. home page...

Oxford University's Bodleian Library has purchased a huge £26m warehouse to give a proper home to over 6 million books and 1.2 million maps

Re:Someone is going to be horribly dissapointed (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828060)

Yes, but think how many tablets those 6 million books are going to create. They're going to be breeding down in the basement...

Paper books are not dead yet (2, Interesting)

sea4ever (1628181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827660)

'Paper books are really dead — they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says."

Um, just yesterday I ordered a paper book for myself. About 2 weeks ago I loaned a whole box of books to someone (I'm expecting them back in January) and my university booklist threatens to take the rest of my money.
I don't think paper books are dead at all.
I know someone that has a tablet, and I've fiddled around with it for a while. It's not nearly as good as a physical paper book. I usually spread my books out while reading so that I can compare things, and a tablet would not allow that. The tablet I saw just doesn't have the reading space that my books have. It being smaller and so on. I'm sure there's tons more reasons why paper books are still better than tablets.
Tablets are pretty cool things though. They could replace books one day, but goodness knows they'll get locked down like so many other modern devices. At least I am certain that my physical books will always belong to me, and that I won't get sued for using it in a study group where everyone can see.

Really? (2, Interesting)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33827978)

'Paper books are really dead — they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says."

Do people really take such over the top wheedling seriously? And why would an otherwise pretty sharp guy say such a narrowminded blindered thing? Books are doing just fine, despite the coolness factor of OLPC or tablets or handhelds. People like them, use them, buy then, and keep them. And 100 years from now they'll still have them, unlike most digital ephemera. We're still working on getting good conversion of writing to text, but preserving writing on paper was mastered a few thousand years ago.

...is paved with good intentions (1)

Lazarian (906722) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828054)

'Paper books are really dead — they're gone. And they're not being killed by tablets, they're creating tablets,' he says."

Which would be a historical revisionists wet dream. Books have that nasty property of not being able to be revised or deleted remotely. Once printed, they're there forever (or at least until someone rounds them up and burns them).

I'm not saying tech like this is a bad thing, but when someone says "books are dead", and tablets and e-readers are the sole future of literature, you have to wonder what color the world is through their eyes. Tech should complement the world we live in, not completely replace what they can co-exist beside. If books were to be replaced completely by tablets and e-readers, there is a whole list of nasty consequences that come to mind.

Waste of money. (0, Troll)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828316)

The OLPC is a stupid idea. Plain and simple.

First of all, books in these countries are cheap. Student's aren't lugging around the hard cover, full-color, overpriced text books Americans get. They're printed in black and white, on ultra cheap newsprint. And for the dedicated student there's always access to a library, well, not always, but the option exists for some. But the most important thing here is that a book doesn't require electricity.

How many parents, in third world nations, are going to want their kids bringing home a computer that needs to be recharged? Electricity costs money and that's something many of these people lack. Supposedly the OLPC had a manual crank for charging it's batteries, but I'd be curious to know how much of a charge that could actually provide. And let's not get into the issue of localizing these devices and providing all the content they're going to need. What's the point of investing in developing these devices if they're only useful in 2 or 3 classes? The point is it's too much work and expense when a far simpler solution is to simply provide the schools with a computer lab.

You can buy a $100 desktop now and it will be more than adequate for these students' needs. And consider the situation: why do these students need computers? I'd argue it's not to improve their education, but provide them with important computer skills which may be valuable when they go out into the working world. Perhaps a side-benefit is to be exposed to a larger world, provided they have internet connection; that's another limitation with the OLPC. As much as people may despise Microsoft, if work environments use Windows extensively, these students are better served being exposed to computers in that environment. I fully understand the implications of chaining people to a particular OS, but I'm approaching this from a pragmatic standpoint: what will be most helpful to these students?

The OLPC is a noble idea. But it's a complicated answer to a problem that much has better solutions. The organization had an annual budget of $12 million, down to $5 million now. I'd love to know how much has been dumped into developing the computer, and how much more will be spent on this new version. All that money could have just gone to buying cheap PCs for these schools and there almost certainly would have been many millions more left to spend on improving these schools and building new ones.

Never has the meme been so appropriate (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#33828832)

1. Announce OLPC for low price
2. Obtain funding/donations
3. ????
4. Profit!

At least on the personal level, it seems that Negroponte is on the third iteration of this scheme, without actually having to produce much in the way of actual mass manufactured goods. Proof the P T Barnum was right.

Re:Never has the meme been so appropriate (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#33829306)

They have backorders for 500,000 units and have shipped 1,000,000. If that ain't mass production, what is?

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