A thoughtful reader just forwarded me a link to a fairly fascinating mini-essay by Alan Jacobs; it was posted in the technology department of the The Atlantic‘s website a little earlier today. (Thanks Stephen!)
Jacobs’ essay presumes to be something of a progress report insofar as e-reading technology is concerned. But from where I stand, the story’s truly fascinating angle comes from the fact that Jacobs is very much interested in an e-reading technology that appears to have been all but forgotten over the past few years: The ability to annotate.
“It seems to me,” Jacobs writes, “that the most serious deficiencies of e-readers involve readers’ interactions with books.”
Here’s Jacobs again, ranting about the near impossibility of having a meaningful interaction with an e-reading device:
” … newer versions of the Kindle software are making it harder to annotate: the various versions of the Kindle Touch lack a physical keyboard, and invoking and using the virtual one is very slow and profoundly awkward. Moreover, the software for the newer Kindles makes it harder even to highlight: the older software, which is still being used for the Kindle Keyboard assumes that when you click on a word you want to start highlighting, whereas the Touch software assumes that you want to get a definition of the word. (Is that really more likely?)”
It may be a minority point of view, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Check out the essay in its entirety here.
And while you’re at it, please leave us a note in the comments section if you’re the type of reader who actually sympathizes with Jacobs’ plight. This is what I’d like to know: Is the desire to annotate on an e-reader perhaps more widespread than any of us previously assumed?