I love living in the future.
Yesterday, I took a 300-mile trip from Indianapolis to St. Charles, Missouri to spend some time with my brothers, their families, and our parents. I made the trip in the front passenger seat of a van, while my sister-in-law drove. I had my tablet propped on the dash in front of me, a Bluetooth keyboard on my lap, and my Karma Go hotspot plugged into an adapter. Hence, I was able to surf the Internet freely and hang out with my on-line friends all the way across the state. I probably should have tried to get more writing in, but it wasn’t the most conducive setting.
Still, how amazing would it have been just a few short years ago to be able to stay online without a break while driving across two states and one city? To be able to chat with a full-sized physical keyboard interface, without needing something heavy and bulky like a laptop? When I grew up or went to college, it would have seemed like pure science fiction. But it’s the sort of thing that most dedicated digital travelers these days can take for granted.
By the same token, we can do amazing things with e-books now if we want. We can buy and download them in comfort no matter where we are and what we’re doing, whether we have a 3G-capable Kindle or not. With a decent hotspot, any device can access 3G or even 4G Internet. You would think this should account for a renaissance of reading, and maybe it would, except that we can do a lot of other things with that connectivity, too, and those things tend to be a bit more compelling.
For example, I was able to use my smartphone and an FM transmitter to play tunes from Google Music over the entire course of the drive. I could have watched streaming video if I had wanted to be antisocial (just my luck that the big weekend trip comes right when Netflix releases Jessica Jones!) or played online video games. And this serves to underscore the necessity for e-book stores to find ways to compete, not just with Amazon, but with all the other things that draw readers’ attention away,
But tablets can be turned to more useful purposes, too–such as blogging, which I’m doing right now from my other sister-in-law’s kitchen table while her two adorable kittens play nearby. I have to admit, this is a lot more portable than my old laptop was. We’ll see what else I can come up with to report this weekend.