On the day that Google unveiled Nexus One, the long-awaited smartphone that's positioned to take on Apple's iPhone, and Hearst talked up its Skiff Reader for print publications, speculation is running rampant on Apple's next big thing: the tablet. As Mark Potts writes in his Recovering Journalist blog, the iSlate "will be a cross between an iPhone and a laptop, it will have a nine- or 10-inch high-resolution color screen, it will have Wi-Fi and cell network access to the Internet, it will cost somewhere between several hundred dollars and $1,000, and it will be announced later this month and be available in the spring. Or maybe not. Everybody's guessing."
The broad consensus is that the iSlate will accelerate the shift to electronic newspapers and magazines, and—with its color screen and Internet access—give Amazon's Kindle book reader a run for its money. Tech writers are hoping Apple's new device will prove to be the ultimate all-in-one device: in addition to all of the print possibilities, the iSlate will give users access to TV, movies, gaming options and picture-phone service. As David Carr sums up in his New York Times blog The Media Equation:
"I haven't been this excited about buying something since I was 8 years old and sent away for the tiny seahorses I saw advertised in the back of a comic book. Come to think of it, the purchase didn't really meet my expectations, but with the whole new year thing, a boy can dream, right?"
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Two items in The Writer's April issue address the general topic of changing technology and what it means for writers: In "The changing future of books," contributing editor Chuck Leddy muses on what the gradual shift to digital publishing means for publishing. He writes,
"Technology is making personalization the future, so readers, book buyers and the general public will increasingly be able to tailor their reading and buying habits in a way that reflect their individuality. With technology, you can find whatever you want, whenever you want it, all at the click of a button."
Also in April, contributing editor Steve Weinberg reviews a recent release from Nation Books, The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution That Will Begin the World Again by Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols. The authors look at the reasons for the near collapse of for-profit journalism, including the rise of the Internet, and offer their take on a solution:
"Immediate measures to sustain journalism, each of which transitions to a permanent subsidy if successful; a plan to convert the collapsing corporate newspaper into what we term a post-corporate digital newspaper; ... and spawning a vibrant, well-funded, competitive and innovative news media sector on the Internet."
Watch for the April issue of The Writer in early March.
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