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Friday, September 23, 2011

#FridayFlash: A Day at the Museum

This is something I posted on Google+ a while back. I thought I’d update it a little and share it here.

A Day at the Museum

The hands-on museum was open at last! I was one of the first inside. A room titled Evolution of the Book caught my eye, and I went to check it out.

The artwork on the device’s outer display attracted my attention, and I picked up the rectangular object. It flexed in one direction, which was kind of interesting. Its cover wrapped around one side to the back, leaving it open on the other side.

I opened it. “Wow,” I thought, “this thing must be expensive.” It consisted of hundreds of thin, flexible text displays. The text crawled down both sides of each display, which was a good design feature — it saved both cost and bulk. I read a few lines, and found the display amazingly crisp. I flexed the device and ran my thumb across the edges of the displays, and it gave off a scent unfamiliar and pleasant. Nowhere did I see power or data jacks — did they have wireless charging and book loading back then? Maybe the cover had some kind of solar collector built-in.

A horrific thought struck me — what if this thing only held one book? Storage would be a nightmare, especially if you had a thousand of them. Not to mention the expense of having a device dedicated to just one book. And how did you update it, send it back to the factory?

I shuddered and laid it back on the table. This thing definitely belonged in a museum.


  1. Great work Mr. Fetched!

    I think you've quite accurately predicted the future. It's hard to believe that books will one day be a thing of the past, not for a long long time for sure, but it will most probably happen one day.

  2. True, the storage capacity sucks, the display has a full color, 0.001 micron resolution. Battery life is measured in centuries, too.

  3. Morning!

    Craig, books will always be around. Whether they're printed on paper? That's another question!

    Tony, the acid-based batteries they came out with last century are cheaper but their lifetime is only decades.

  4. You can't update the book to change its meaning or wipe it out, either. You'd have to burn the thing to get rid of it.

  5. It's all about the texture and odor, at least for people like me, for as long as we're alive. Which, in the scheme of things, ain't all that long, I suppose.

  6. LOL I have a few of those antiquities on my shelf.

    And the mss versions won't last centuries. You will be lucky if they last a decade. (a lot of my older ones are falling apart, yes.)

  7. Oh the book of the future, if you can't update then lets hope it's a good story - one you'd want to read over and over again eh!


  8. heh, I enjoyed this one when it appeared on G+ too. =)

    The one word that throws me is 'crawled' in the third paragraph. It conveys a sense of motion to me so as I read it the first time my mind's eye saw the words moving on the page, which is obviously not the desired effect. Might just be me, though! ;)

    Really clever play with a very current subject. =)

    I can't find the article now... but did you know that decaying wood pulp gives off a chemical very similar vanilla in structure, hence the pleasant smell?

  9. No! I don't want to say goodbye to the book. I love my ereader, but there is something special about holding a book in your hand. Great flash, Far!

  10. I've always wondered what the future of book collectors will be in the next decade or so. Will they be the only people buying physical books?

    Interesting perspective though.

  11. Back at the manor, yay(?)!

    John, you could always shred it or soak it in water.

    Mike, I'm sure paper book-readers will be around for a long time. I've said repeatedly that paper books will only get truly obsoleted when eReaders are $15 on the supermarket/drugstore checkout racks.

    Sonia, so do I, and some of the more well-read ones are also coming apart. I've seriously considered getting some glue and rebinding them.

    Helen, yes — a good story with few typos!

    Thanks, John. I can see what you mean by "crawled" — only problem was, my first thought for a replacement was "ran." :-) I've seen that article too, but can't remember the link. I'm glad you enjoyed it, especially with your current situation.

    Thanks, Danni. I don't think you'll have to say goodbye, at least in your lifetime, but it might get more difficult to keep saying hello as time goes on.

    Michael, I think paper will dominate for at least two decades longer and will be important for some time after that. But 300 years from now, who knows?

  12. And, the library charges if the device is late. :::shudder:::

  13. Fun story and could be true one day.

  14. Evening!

    Boran, that's a good point. A future library book will get returned automatically, without having to exchange hardware!

    Cherie, sometimes I think it'll happen in my lifetime; other times, I think it will take 2-3 centuries.


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