13.0232 physiology of reading

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 21:29:16 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 232.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 21:18:36 +0100
From: Hope Greenberg <hope.greenberg@uvm.edu>
Subject: Physiology of Reading

Two topics that usually rear their heads during any conversation about
reading electronic texts are the difficulties of reading from a screen
and the general "un-cuddle-bleness" of the electronic grey box. While in
such discussions I usually find myself spouting the by-now standard
phrases like "yes, but on the screen you can adjust font and font size"
or "reading is a learned behavior. Ask your children or anyone who reads
more online than off what their experience is." Meanwhile, it has been
interesting to follow two developments in this area. The first is that
of hand-held electronic books. Some companies in this arena,
particularly those that are marketing to the popular reading sector, are
experiencing difficulties--the time does not seem quite right. Others,
particularly those that are marketing to specialized areas like medicine
seem to be faring better.

Another technology that seems to be doing well, particularly in light of
this week's news of an alliance between Lucent and E Ink, is that of
electronic paper. Similar work is being done by Xerox and 3M. Below are
excerpts from a 12 Oct 1999 article in Wired that you may find of
interest. I've excerpted a few bits:

E-Paper Closer to Delivery
by Leander Kahney
Wired News
3:30 p.m. 12.Oct.99.PDT
.. . .
Electronic paper -- an ultra-thin, lightweight screen that can be rolled
or folded like a newspaper -- may soon materialize.
.. . .
E Ink's electronic ink displays are made of millions of tiny capsules
filled with light and dark dyes that change color when zapped with an
electric charge. The e-paper displays are thin and lightweight and will
be made from inexpensive materials in a manufacturing process that more
closely resembles printing than the expensive silicon fabrication
process used to make LCDs, the companies said.
.. . .
Further down the pipe -- in three to five years -- the companies hope to
have an electronic newspaper that can be rolled up and stuffed into a
pocket, the executives said.
.. . .
Further, economies of scale may make electronic paper displays
ubiquitous, allowing them to be built into clothes and footwear, food
and drink containers, coffee cups, and new electronic gadgets.
.. . .

hope.greenberg@uvm.edu, U of Vermont

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