Brain Canvas

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The New Newspaper

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The print industry waves goodbye to itself every day.  What comes next? While sitting in the park near your home you unfold a large broadside-shaped sheet, but it is not pulp paper.  It’s super-thin, totally flexible e-paper that you can fold up like a pamphlet and stuff in your pocket without worrying about damage.  It uses carbon nanotubes grafted onto its flexible substrate to store charge and only needs to be recharged, by putting it on any charging surface, about once every two months – maybe sooner if you are a serious power reader.  A thin, practically unnoticeable wire folded and looped throughout the paper serves as its antenna to access its source of content, the Internet. “Newspapers” used to only carry the content their editors agreed upon.  It was sourced from just a few places, depending on the publication.  There were a number of staff writers who churned out content, there were sections that were populated by overarching journalistic alliances that published the same story in almost every paper, there were classifieds, obituaries, comics, a weather report – all decided upon and approved by the publisher. Now your paper, as it is anachronistically referred to despite the drastic changes of the medium, pulls content that you choose.  You have defined sections, not dissimilar to the way newspapers used to look, but they are populated from a feed that you have elected to view and which is updated in real-time.  You may have a large “headline” section that pulls from a journalist of record, or it may be a company bulletin from your employer, or it may be your favorite comic.  It could even be just a single section that takes up the whole front side of your sheet which streams a film you have never seen before every day, on demand.  You keep the speakers in the sheet muted though so as not to annoy those around you. You can have one big section or any number of sections immediately visible on the front, so long as it is sizable enough for your finger or your stylus to interact with it.  Local news on the right, moving weather radar picture in the top-left, a few of your favorite bloggers in the middle.  Classifieds that match a search you entered three days ago scroll by on a small ticker-like pane on the bottom-right.  Finally someone is selling an old Blu-Ray player that you want to give to your young daughter so she can tinker with it, so you tap the link which brings up the advertisement to fill the whole sheet.  You scribble off an email using your stylus writing directly on the sheet to the seller, then go back to your front page.  You see new pictures from your cousin’s trip to Mexico scroll by on the left.  You decide you’re bored of seeing nothing but party pictures, so with three taps you have replaced that pane with a feed that scrolls all headlines a local journalist tags with “election.”  Most of them he wrote, but about 40% are linked by him. You pull up a panel to occupy the whole right side of the sheet and begin scribbling a post.  Most people use the virtual typepad that automatically shows up on the sheet but you find writing by hand and letting the handwriting capture take over lets you focus your thoughts.  You have been working on a breakthrough product at work and you want to share your current progress with others in your field.  You drag and drop photographs and a video you took yesterday evening that are linked from your mobile.  They look like windows into reality; the pixelization of bygone generations is no longer known.  With a tap of the “send” button, your post is loaded up to your feed, and within seconds is slipped onto the front page of a hundred sheets around the world. You fold up your paper into the size of a wallet, put it in your pocket, and stroll around the pond in the middle of the park.
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Written by Preston

December 20th, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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