1414 – Tempos Modernos

Instead of a proper Saturday image, here’s one more from my walk through Villach on Friday. Saturday we had rain most of the day and I spare you that.

I’ve already given you a view of this church the day I came back from Liguria, and here is another one, with the spire peeking out between Villach’s Congress Center and the new Holiday Inn hotel.

And while we are contemplating this clash of modern and old architecture, let me ask you a question. Do you own an e-book reader? And if so, is it a Kindle or something else?

I ask, because I felt the strong impulse today to buy a new Amazon Kindle. At the moment I read Vikram Chandra’s monumental Mumbai epos “Sacred Games”, an outstanding novel that is full of Indian slang and that assumes quite some understanding of Indo-Pakistani history on the side of the reader. As someone who has largely ignored India and its history in the past (don’t know why, it’s just how it is), I found it incredibly helpful to look things up in Wikipedia, but of course I don’t sit in front of a computer all the time, and certainly not when I read books.

Well, Amazon’s new Kindle 3G could be the solution to that. It has WiFi and 3G connectivity, some kind of easy link to Wikipedia (select a word and press a button, or something like that), and it even has a full-fledged browser. Sure, it’s not as good for browsing the colorful, glossy web as an Apple iPad, but its screen is much better suited to reading everywhere, even in sunlight, and its battery life is much, much longer.

On one side there is my disgust for Digital Restriction Management, but on the other side I really like the idea of the Kindle. It may have the potential to be much more than just a device for reading books. Reading a book like “Sacred Games” on this device may open up a new level of understanding, just because cross-referencing and looking up of background information is so much more convenient than with a physical book and separate computers, I am sure I would do it much more often, at least if it worked well enough. So, then: does it? Is it really convenient to look something up? Do you use that feature? What’s your overall impression?

So far I have not ordered and my initial enthusiasm has cooled off a little, because a quick lookup of the last about 30 books I’ve read showed most of them not available in Kindle format so far. I have read William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” trilogy, and of the three books only the first two are available. A bit anti-climactic is you ask me ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve read all books in Orson Scott Card’s “Ender” universe and his “Homecoming Saga”. None of these 17 or 18 books are available. Steinbeck of course seems available and complete, but there is no Tom Sharpe and no David Lodge. OK, they’re british ๐Ÿ™‚

There are some books by A. S. Byatt, but “Possession” is missing. They have Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight Children” (that I’m going to read soon), but not the “Satanic Verses”. Heinlein’s “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”? Nope. Almost nothing by Ursula K. LeGuin. Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee? Almost nothing.

Overall it seems to me, that we’re not yet there. As much as I’d like the comfort of using such a crossover device, at the moment it would not be of much use to me. But then, maybe what I want is simply an iPad or something like that, some small computer that can be dragged around along with a physical book. Actually I have no idea, do you???

The Song of the Day is “Tempos Modernos” from Marisa Monte’s album “Barulhinho Bom”. I have the album under the title “A Great Noise”, and the cover of my version is slightly censored ๐Ÿ™‚

Hear the song on YouTube.

2 thoughts on “1414 – Tempos Modernos”

  1. I don’t have a Kindle, but I do use the Kindle programs for the Mac and the iPhone app. I figured it was a halfway house, and as it was free – hey – what’s to lose? They’re pretty good, in my opinion, although I don’t read all that much.

    You might want to check out http://freekindlebooks.org/ – lots of links to books from the Project Gutenberg.

  2. No Kindle, Andreas, but I do have an iPad. I haven’t used it for reading books, but it is very useful (in my opinion) for reading and storing PDF’s. While traveling, for example, you can put a PDF of your camera’s manual on the iPad and thereby avoid carrying the actual manual with you. Mostly, though, I like the iPad for displaying photographs. It’s actually better than most laptops for color fidelity.

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