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EX 5 - Response to Kindle...

The Amazon Kindle is a device that I was completely unfamiliar with until it was recently introduced to me during the class EL336: History and Future of the Book. It is truly an innovative piece of technology that I can appreciate and I feel it will be beneficial to aid the teaching of classes in the future at Seton Hill University if the students can adapt to it. It is my understanding that nothing like the Kindle has ever been incorporated into the Seton Hill University curriculum before and for that reason I have doubts about its acceptance.

I suppose I should start out with a little exposition about my previous experiences with Amazon.com as a company. I have been a loyal Amazon.com customer for about six years now. I was also previously aware that the website’s customers could download books and videos to their computers and other portable devices (PDA, Notepads etc.) for a fee. Personally I have only paid once to download anything from the website, and my other purchases have been of t physical DVDs and books. I downloaded the complete first season of the television show South of Nowhere. The reason that I purchased the right to download the episodes was because a physical copy of them is not available for sale at all. The Kindle takes the idea of being able to download content (specifically literature) from Amazon.com the next level by making it available in a physical sense that utilizes the digitalization of media.

Personally I thought the Kindle was a great portable resource, but I had a hard time using it for the sheer fact that I prefer reading text on a printed page that I can highlight and make notes on with my handwriting. As I mentioned during the final class meeting (5/1/08) I generally don’t like reading text or sources online. Although there were no ads or other distractions while reading with the Kindle I concluded that it still wasn’t for me. I would much rather have the option to download the material and then print it out rather then try to interpret it on a computer screen or in this case the Kindle’s screen. I know that the Kindle has the option of highlighting and even note taking with its built in keyboard, but when I am interpreting information I like to be able to physically cross it out as I write my own analysis. I will say that the Kindle does put the text in a physical form, but it is not the physical form that I prefer.

One issue with the Kindle was that the buttons on the keyboard and side panel were rather sensitive and the slightest touch would often send me ahead to the next page when I was not done reading the previous one. This happened a lot when I was holding the Kindle as I read. I wanted to hold it like you would read a book and for this reason my right hand often triggered the button that sent me to the next page. The scrolling option on the Kindle was also something that I had a slight issue with because it was delayed at times and slow paced. Sometimes when I selected a text to read its initial uploading was slow and this proved to be frustrating. One function of the Kindle that I did find very useful was the search option in which you could type in a specific word and the Kindle would show you every place in a given text where it could be found. While I was reading a text about video games I typed in the word ‘avatar’ in order to test the function, and it came up with many results. This function proved to be helpful in skimming the text for relative content.

As far as the user friendly element is concerned the Kindle was very easy to use. Anyone that has basic computing skills can probably figure out the Kindle, which came with no instructions when I obtained it. I think I may have not even been present in class when it was first introduced due to a conflicting event concerning my public policy internship. Overall I think the device is incredibly user friendly. Upon taking the Kindle to my friend Kaylee’s room I observed that she could work it with the same amount of efficiency that I could and her life is not at all technologically oriented. I also showed the Kindle to my RA Rebecca and she was quite amazed by it. At first she thought I was carrying a rather large palm pilot around, but I quickly explained the device and its purpose. Kaylee and Rebecca were really the only two people to experience the Kindle other than me due to time constraints and the need to pass it on to other classmates. Though each of them found the Kindle very intriguing.

The Kindle could become an influential part of the Seton Hill University curriculum in several facets. I think its capabilities would cater best to classes that involve the humanities rather then the sciences even though they use books as well. The emphasis on resources and texts is why I feel the humanities could use the Kindle best. It could also serve the economic purpose of providing students with a text that may otherwise cost them an exorbitant amount. Students could take turns with the Kindle and present on the various chapters of the books that are included on it.

The only downfall about this type of sharing involves user agreements that the university must enter into. There are a lot of technicalities involving the mass use of software and other copy written information that the Kindle may provide. The Kindle would likely serve classes on the upper level rather then introductory courses because of the implied knowledge that’s its use requires. I think we really need to do a little more beta testing regarding its actual usefulness before further investing in multiple Kindles.

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