Odds & Ends

There’s been a few news items of late that I’ve been thinking about yet somehow can’t bring myself to write long posts about so I’ll just throw out my general opinion on the issues here:

The SAFE Act
Many a library blog have been complaining about the implications of this potential new law when it comes to offering public and open WiFi in the library. While I’m not defending this bill in any way, shape, or form, I think certain bloggers are overreacting. Here’s the relevant text:

"Anyone providing an “electronic communication service” or “remote computing service” to the public who learns about the transmission or storage of information about certain illegal activities or an illegal image must…" [emphasis added]

The key phrase here is "who learns about". In other words, providers of open WiFi are not required to troll for illegal activity, just report it if they find out about it. Which, in my opinion is something that we should be doing from a moral standpoint anyway. (You see child porn on a computer in the library, you say something.) If you’re concerned about having to report, this is just another reason to not look over the shoulders of your patrons.

The Kindle
I’ve held one and I’m not impressed. I have a Sony Reader (and not even the latest version) and that impresses me. (I may have one or two of my facts wrong in this bit so please correct me if appropriate. The Kindle is $400. The Reader, $300 or less. The Kindle has a keyboard, the Reader doesn’t. So what. I’d rather have that space taken up by the screen instead of having another device on which I have to type with my thumbs. I can easily get pretty much any document I want onto my Sony Reader through an iTunes-esque interface. For the Kindle I either need to buy it from Amazon or go through some undocumented hack-like steps to get my files into it. The Kindle is physically larger than the Reader and just feels more cumbersome. The Reader does audio, the Kindle doesn’t. (Ok, not a big deal to me but it might be tom some people.) Those big honkin’ buttons on the side of the Kindle are too easily accidentally pressed. The Kindle’s WiFi? From what I hear every little thing you do is going to cost you. But you might be in the airport and finish off the last book and need to buy a new one you say. Sorry, but if you’re on a trip and have read everything on a device that can hold hundreds of books, you’ve either had way too much free time to read (go out and get some exercise) on your trip or it’s the result of poor planning on your part. Go buy a paperback for $7.99 at the gift shop. At least then you’ll own something more than a license.

No, the Sony Reader isn’t perfect but I don’t believe the Kindle is the killer app of eBooks or even much of an improvement. It’s tacking on a bunch of features to a good product that no one really needs. And no, I’m not going to get into the whole DRM discussion here as that applies to both platforms. (Well, no more than I did at the end of the previous paragraph.)

One Reply to “Odds & Ends”

  1. Great overview! All these products are really crappy. I have been experimenting with overdrive (a new digital download service provided by libraries) and anything that is in the least bit sophisticated (whether a media or reader device) doesn’t work with it. you cannot own anything anymore, you are just renting it.

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