Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Viva la E-Book Revolucion!

Some few days ago I received my Sony PRS-700 in the mail.  Like a kid on Christmas morning I was a quiver in expectation, and it did not disappoint.  I have watched for over a year now the advances that e-book reading technology has taken, and finally decided that it was time to take the plunge.  After some thorough research, I discovered that the Sony Reader was more suitable to my needs than the much hyped Kindle.

It features a touch screen with native PDF compatibility, which was of the utmost importance since the majority of my e-books are PDF, and Amazon charges a fee (at least if you want them delivered wirelessly) to convert them to the Kindle format.

Sony has prided themselves upon being an "open" device, compatible with a wide range of different formats.  Though the Kindle does have an Internet connection where you can buy your books online and have them wirelessly downloaded to the device, I felt the price of being a slave to their system was simply too high.

Some have complained that the different readers on the market are too expensive for having but one function.  I was seduced by this argument myself at first, and bought a Netbook thinking it would work just as well.  I was wrong.  Laptops are fine things but unwieldy objects for comfortable reading.  The LCD screen was just as bad for eye-strain as my desk top, and the difficulty of booting it up and shutting it down disinclined me from reading at all.  The Reader is quick to start up, taking only seconds from sleep mode, and you're reading your favorite title in moments.  Besides, if you are a true bibliophile like me, the advantages of having dozens of volumes at hand is empowering.  And after all, did anyone ever complain that print books had but one function?

Having now tried the technology for myself I can only see great potential for it.  As with all things digital, e-book readers will only become cheaper and better, so it will not be too far off before everyone can afford to keep a library in their pocket.  Until then, I will be thankful for my PRS-700 as we sail into this new world of digitized delight.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Edward Said's Beard

Some time before he died, the great Palestinian author Edward Said grew a beard.  Now, for anyone else this would be a trivial event, but for a world renowned intellectual it signaled to me that simple vanity that even the best of us cannot escape.  It also brought to mind the age old debate over whether or not philosophers should be above worldly things. 

We know from Diogenes Laërtius that Aristotle was fond of his rings, and kept his hair well groomed.  Wittgenstein read detective novels and loved watching Westerns.  Marx enjoyed a good dirty joke and crawling through pubs.  The list could be endless, but the point is the same: thinking is a  human endeavor, and even those who are its finest practitioners, remain, very much human.