May 2008

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« Proof of God | Main | Mild Super Power »


emily sonntag

I'm 25 and like reading our office newspaper sometimes over reading online because it makes me feel quaint. However, no one takes the internet into the bathroom to read, so I usually end up reading the online version anyway to avoid these people's diseases.


The roll out screen! I've been anxiously awaiting that particular dream of mine to become a reality for exactly this reason!


I invented that. I called it a scrollcase though. Key elements are wifi and a reflective screen flexible enough to roll up. Major external element is pervasive local computing, ie your scroll is a very thin client to a local wifi server.


Please keep in mind the importance of old news. As long as we continue to keep pets (dog, cats, birds, etc.) we will require a steady supply of very large sheets of inexpensive do-do catchers. Lining litter boxes, rodent cages, that special corner of the room for puppy training would never be quite as convenient if we had to use cell phones.

Jason Dumler

Here is both a concept device and what a company has managed to manufacture:
This has been in a couple of sci-fi shows/movies as well. Just seems like the obvious next step in digital displays.


I don't know Scott - looks like you just moved the turd (newspapers)from one pocket to another.

That digital scroll is a nice idea... I'd pay for a digital scroll on which i can watch movies on the go i.e pull out a nice big 12 inch screen whenever i feel like watching something.


I'll believe it when I see it. For now, newspapers are superior technology. They are light, cheap, easy to read using ambient light, scannable over a whole page, can be crammed into a bag, annotated, torn up and finally used to line the cat's litter tray. Almost everyone I know in the city has access to the internet at work (and that's without paying per-minute charges) but get their quick news fix from the free papers given out on the street.

Sameer Shisodia

For a lot many of us, the 'paper' part is still important even though the 'news' is already in your head from the numerous websites you've been killing time on to get news as-it-happens, and 24 hour news channels which more or less 'create' news.

The morning cuppa with the paper spread out and the first rays of the sun streaming in are a lovely few minutes to start the day with - and no laptop/cell can provide the same feel.

Also, you cannot really clean window-panes well with LCD screens :) (yes, newspaper works amazingly well)


Your pull out venetian screen is almost available.

Craig Cockburn

Click the link for my name and you'll see I predicted personalised online news in April 1990 before the web was invented. I guess the newspapers have survived this long....

What I want is personalised TV news where it only broadcasts stories I have expressed an interest in, and does not broadcast any areas such as sport that I find deathly boring


I was roaming around on the web last night and saw this statement which I thought you would enjoy:

'Some folks just don’t like riding on trains in which the next stop is a brick wall.'

LOL, It gives a very clear visual of some situations.

It is in reference to Britney Spears losing custody of her kids - I'm a mother of 3 little rug monkeys, and had to read why/how she screwed up so bad. Here is the link if you care to know:

No need to post in comments - I was just too lazy to look up your email address.


I just upgraded my phone. That's one.


Duh. All phones can have a decent web browser today.

There's Java client that "iphonizes" regular phones (you still have to use buttons of course, but you get full web pages with proper layout, zoom, etc).

Here's the link for phoneless people:

(BTW: Opera Mini has 7 times more users than iPhone).


The only time I really want a "paper" newspaper is when I poop. There's just something uncomfortable, not to metion unsanitary, about using a cellphone or laptop while you're on the john. Maybe the demand for papers of this form will go away when we all have little electronic document viewers that fold out from the wall next to the toilet paper holder.

Tor Magnus

Here's a couple of points for and against for you:

As brother52 pointed out, whenever I travel to work people try to hand me various free papers at the train/tube/bus station which pretty much has the same rumors in it as the main papers (unfortunately I can't read Dutch so they're no use to me). I think this is where the paper paper is headed, free rags thrown at you at times when you've got nothing else to do but read them.

DF pointed out that people like paper, but is he sure that this is not a generation thing? I'm only at 33 but I've already noticed huge differences in what I like and what kids now like. It's all about what you're getting used to and I think you'll find that newer generations won't have the same penchant for flipping pages.

I believe Scott is right on the money with his little pull-out reader. From what I've seen of this type of technology so far is that they're far superior as a reading surface to a plasma/lcd/oled screen. Great contrast, low to zero power requirement and you can even read it in direct sunlight. I can't believe it's not paper!(tm)

Scott is probably right on the money with his prediction of user contributed, highly structured, moderated news outlets as well. I'm actually surprised that we have not seen this yet. I'd imagine something like Newscorp having a huge daily news database which are presented either in several different sites which specialize in a particular type of content maybe with a pick-and-mix subscription service.

With good integration to an e-reader a good news source could easily replace your daily newspaper, but I'd give it a bit more than two phone replacements before it all comes together (not at least because these e-reader-phone-satnav-camera-game-devices have come on the market).


Old people get the paper for the coupons. You will have to wait for them to die off.


Even if that were to happen, physical newspapers still wouldn't disappear completely.

Ascii King

We will have a separate device for reading the newspaper. For a long time now, we could have had our calculators built into our watches. Some people do. Most people, however prefer to separate the functions. They can choose to do this because making a watch and a calculator is pretty cheap. Our current PDA devices are designed to be portable and fully functional. Our newspapers do not need to be as portable or as functional.

I imagine a separate device dedicated to reading your news. It would be about the size of a regular piece of paper, 8 1/2 by 11. It might also be half that size. This device does only a few things. It connects to the web to pull down the news. It might have no ability to send data, it would have no touch screen and it would have only a few buttons. This would keep the price of this device down. The device would be cheap, it would still be portable enough to fit in your briefcase, but have a big enough screen that you could read it comfortably. Those are the three key features of newsprint anyway.

A separate, affordable, dedicated device will be the future of newspapers. The newspapers might give them away for free. That is my prediction.

P.S. Anyone who says they would choose to use newsprint because of nostalgic reasons must still be riding horses instead of using cars.


I don't think we are likely to see physical newspapers becoming redundant as long as we continue to use public transport.

I use public transport a lot and would be reluctant to use a fancy mobile phone such as you describe for one simple reason: I would like to remain in possession of my mobile phone! Reports of people being mugged for a newspaper are fortunately scarce!

Also, if I had to choose between losing a cheap newspaper and an expensive electronic device because I left it on the train, I know which I'd go for...

Suki the Ocicat

As a professional printed newspaper-reading researcher, I bet a tenner (10.00GBP) that the paper editions will survive till the end of time.
For my work every weekday morning I open a copy of Lloyd’s List [the biggest maritime newspaper since 1734] and its online edition just cannot replace the pleasure of turning the pages physically – it’s easer for the eyes and quicker to flick through the relevant articles for my research.

Also I am entitled to read the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and The Independent for the same reason with extra personal joy.
Workplace newspaper subscription will last as long as we, the professional readers last.

Moreover, the Dilbert-loving UK residents have already mentioned the merit of ‘Metro’ newspaper (free paper distributed to tube [subway]/train stations in the major cities in the UK).

Personally I have swapped Metro with secondhand copies of P G Wodehouse books, though.
Lastly may I point out that printed newspapers are also needed for wrapping fragile stuff for office removal, wet bed of families with kids, and so forth.
Demand and Supply, int’it [Hull dialect]?


E-paper is already around, although in its infancy there was a working demo of it at one of the major technology expo's last year.

While currently only available in black and white it is only a mater of time....

Geoffrey James, Sales Machine

So true, so true.

The newspaper is destined to disappear just like movies and movie theaters disappeared when television became widespread in the 1950s.

As I recall, that was just about when the airplane eliminated the train as a form of transport and some 75 years after the telephone, widely installed in businesses, eliminated the interoffice memo.

As I sit in my paperless office, I still remember the days when every computer had a printer attached to it. Funny how different things were back then.


Isn't this why satellite radio was invented? People wanted uncensored hosts like Howard Stern and uninterupted music and content? They have predicted that magazines would fall by the wayside with the internet too, but that hasnt' happened either. It may become a niche market, with fewer papers being printed for a higher price, but it will be there for a long time to come. Besides, they still have some strides to make when it comes to the battery life of mobile phones. My phone may last a week on battery, but it drops considerable the more I make calls or play games. Consider how much the battery would be used if constantly reading web pages, it would have to be charged daily, which will reduce it lifespan. And do you really want to miss an important call because you killed the battery by reading the paper on your phone for 2 hours in the morning?


As a newspaper carrier I have plenty of customers. There is something about reading the newspaper than reading off the internet. Maybe its the pixels. Maybe all users will go blind from all the tiny pixels being read all day long. I honestly dont think its healthy. Sometime the satelites may be blown out the the sky. Then what are all the internet newspaper readers going to do? No internet, no tv's, no radios, no iphones, no ipods, no cell phones. But woohoo, here comes the newspaper carrier. :) And we will be here for a longgggggggggg time to come.


I doubt newspapers will disappear that fast - I think we underestimate people's resistance to change. I'd imagine the idea of sitting on the buss or with the morning coffee with a cozy newspaper is too well integrated in some people's everyday routines for them to let go of it that fast. Whether these hanger-onners will be enough to keep the industry going, I doubt - they'd probably all convert eventually. But my guess is that the switch-over would take much longer than two cellphone upgrade periods.

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