Needless to say, it's Apple Day (again) for technophiles. You'd have to look far and wide to find anything with more gotta-have-it-now appeal than the new iPad.
And what's not to like? A high-rez screen, new cameras, and plenty of muscle under the hood for zippier processing and connectivity. Everything a growing boy or girl could want in a tablet computer/media-consumption device. (By the way, you can tap into The Times' digital versions for on-the-go reading.)
Amid all the hoopla, though, I paid a little visit to The Times' in-house research library, just to recall what it was like when information was consumed in a more leisurely fashion.
Browsing the shelves, I saw that data was easily downloaded (off the shelves, that is), and came with regular updates (on an annual basis in most cases).
Portability? Sure, if you have a truck handy.
Storage capacity? No problem for anyone with a warehouse.
Cost? Well, this was a time when information wasn't exactly yearning to breathe free. At least not if the likes of the World Book encyclopedia had anything to say about it.
It goes without saying that computers in general and tablets in particular have changed things. But sitting in the library, surrounded by all those old books, I remembered the pleasure of simply turning pages and absorbing knowledge.
It may not have been as cool, or easy, or cheap, as Googling and Web surfing. But the slower pace of the printed word added something extra to the data-input experience. Something profound.
I'm looking forward to playing with the new iPad. Really. I may even finally break down and buy one when they become available March 16.
But it'll never be the same.
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