Kindle’s here’s eInk technology is here. It is a wireless (piggybacking the phone network) device that can store or access remote content (books, blogs, etc.). The device costs something as well as the service, but is a valliant leap forward after the several significant semifailures of the past.

As a book reader, the Kindle is the second major product to explore the appeal of E Ink display in a device that is the size of a book and weighs under a pound. Sony Reader took a stab at this, and recently introduced a second, sleeker model. E Ink, for now, is a compromise. It is easier on the eyes and uses much less power than traditional displays. But it is black and white, and it changes slowly, so it is not appropriate for video. It’s not even optimal for more simple uses that change quickly, like scrolling through songs on an MP3 player.

Amazon improved this concept in a few ways: It has a lot more books; it is selling new releases at $9.99, compared to about $16 for Sony; and most important it is using wireless data communication to enable people to browse, buy and downloading books without needing a computer. The ability to have newspapers, magazines and blogs automatically delivered is an interesting bonus.

Information Week chimes in, pointing to the fact that Kindle might be an entry point for a whole suite of devices and applications that rely on allways on wireless connectivity.

The single smartest thing about Kindle is not the device itself — which is as closed-ended as any cell phone currently made — but how the network access costs are diffused through the cost of the device and the material you buy for it. The device uses the EVDO network for connectivity, but Amazon eats the connection costs: It assumes that you’ll buy enough content for the device (and that enough devices will be sold) that the transmission fees will be more than paid for.

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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