by Mad Dog
Anoto pen is a great invention for people who can’t figure out
that the letters on a computer keyboard correspond to our alphabet
and if you push one, the letter printed on it will appear on your
scientists have their way we’ll soon be writing on e-paper using
e-pens. If this prospect doesn’t make you e-cstatic then maybe you
need to have your attitude re-e-ligned.
It’s true, they’re
actually developing both of these products and it shouldn’t come
as a surprise. After all, the key to 21st century innovation is to
open up a dictionary, point to a word at random, then put an ‘i’
or ‘e’ in front of it. This instantly attracts investors and
publicity but, as many are finding out, not customers or profits. To
do that you need a good idea. You know, like an e-pen.
The Anoto pen is a big,
fat, bulky pen that not only has an ink cartridge, but also computer
circuitry to make it leak no matter whether it’s in your pocket
right side up or upside down. Just kidding. Actually the
micro-processor broadcasts everything you write to your computer. Of
course, why you’re writing to your computer is another thing
altogether, but that’s a personal problem, and I strongly suggest
you consult an e-shrink about it as soon as possible.
The Anoto pen is a great
invention for people who can’t figure out that the letters on a
computer keyboard correspond to our alphabet and if you push one,
the letter printed on it will appear on your monitor. But it has its
drawbacks. For one, you need to be near a computer for it to work.
For another, you have to write on special paper that has tiny grids
printed on it. Without that it’s just a big, fat expensive pen
that runs out of ink at the most inopportune times just like any
able to have e-macramé wall hangings that change into reproductions
of dogs playing poker, both velvet and non-velvet versions. And
you’ll be able to make custom- designed, ridiculously expensive
gift wrap in case you’d rather draw bows than tie them.
Oddly, you won’t be able to use the Anoto pen (proposed ad
campaign: “It’s Anoto lotta good”) to write on e-paper. This
is kind of like having a needle without a hole for the thread or a
hook that doesn’t work with a ladder. The reason is that e-paper
isn’t paper at all, it’s a thin, flexible plastic sheet that can
display words and images like a computer screen. They say it will be
easy to read, reusable, and hope to find someone who cares by the
time they perfect it.
E-paper will be great for
digital books you can roll up like an ancient scroll. It will let
you download your newspaper, then throw it in the bushes or on
the roof. You’ll be able to have e-macramé wall hangings that
change into reproductions of dogs playing poker, both velvet and
non-velvet versions. And you’ll be able to make custom-designed,
ridiculously expensive gift wrap in case you’d rather draw bows
than tie them. What e-paper won’t be good for is lining the bird
cage, house training your dog, starting a fire, or writing on with
your Anoto pen.
Isn’t there something we
can do with new technology other than apply it to the same old
ideas? It’s like the Internet—no one has figured out what to do
with this new technology that’s truly unique. We can order
merchandise, read information, watch cartoons, play games, listen to
music, and talk to friends across the country or around the world.
This is nothing we couldn’t already do with books, magazines,
telephones, catalogs, televisions, stereos, and jigsaw puzzles. And
in most cases doing it online is slower, more difficult, less
efficient, more frustrating, and of much lower quality than what we
had before. Just because the package looks different doesn’t mean
the stuff inside has been improved.
I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the
reinventions, or e-ventions as they’ll probably be called. Expect
to see e-wheels on your car so you can fix virtual flats from the
comfort of your keyboard. Real flats will still need AAA.
Take e-books, which have been getting a lot of publicity, and
not because they’re written with an e-pen on e-paper. E-books have
been around for a while, though most people think Stephen King
invented them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He and Al
Gore did. True, having over 500,000 people download his novella, Riding
the Bullet, gave the format a lot of validity, but face it,
Stephen King could write the sequel to Ishtar and people
would buy it. Sure it would be 1,200 pages longer than it needs to
be and you’d throw your back out hauling it around, but how else
would we know for sure he wrote it?
While e-books save trees
and chiropractor bills, they don’t save money, and judging by
King’s second e-book experiment they don’t save fans either.
After his first success, King decided to serialize his book, The
Plant, online. He charged people $1 for the first
installments, then $2 after that. As if imitating drug dealers
wasn’t bad enough (“The first ones are cheap; when you’re
hooked it’s gonna cost you.”), he decided to emulate the worst
of the worst: politicians.
Noticing that everyone was
enjoying watching Bush and Gore act like spoiled brats, King decided
to do the same—since not enough people paid for the last
installment he pulled the plug. I can’t think of a better way to
keep your fan base happy than to charge them $7 to read half a book,
then not give them the rest. It’s a good thing he isn’t a film
director or we’d never know how the movie ends.
I’m sure we haven’t
seen the last of the reinventions, or e-ventions as they’ll
probably be called. Expect to see e-wheels on your car so you can
fix virtual flats from the comfort of your keyboard. Real flats will
still need AAA. There will be e-fires so you can make S’mores
without getting messy chocolate all over your fingers. Not very
filling but also no calories. And best of all you'll be able to
keep track of all this using an e-notebook, which of course will be
filled with e-paper. True you won’t be able to write on it with
your e-pen, but you can’t have everything, now can you?
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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