I have always been an “early adopter” of new technology. I very much enjoy the fact that my job requires that I keep up with trends and anticipate where information resources and delivery are heading. I actively use new applications on two Macs, a PC Netbook, an iPhone, and various peripheral digital devices. I have presided over a gradual move from print-based journals to electronic access and from an exclusively print-based reference collection to one in which many commonly used titles are available in full-text electronic versions. The one area in which I have steadfastly resisted the digital experience is news. (Caveat – I read The Daily Beast online but I don’t count that.)
One of the great pleasures of my life is the act of reading a physical copy of the New York Times each day. I spend easily an hour on the first section alone. Usually, because of my work schedule, that hour happens when I go to bed at night. This week, however, I am on vacation, and because we get home delivery, I can read the paper first thing in the morning. Today is Tuesday, the day for Science Times, my favorite section. I eagerly picked the paper up off the driveway this morning only to discover that we had accidentally received the Wall Street Journal instead of the Times.
Having no alternative, I fired up the Times Reader, a nifty little piece of software that makes the online reading experience somewhat resemble the physical experience. Using my laptop, I explored the navigation, noting with appreciation all of the color images that are possible with pixels. The Reader is intuitive to use, and “breaking news” articles are included in addition to those in the physical paper. All in all, it was not a bad experience. I strongly suspect that electronic delivery is the most optimistic scenario for the future of newspapers. I would be willing to pay for the content should home delivery go the way of the dinosaurs. (Currently, electronic access via the Reader is free with my home delivery subscription.) But still, I hope that the delivery man gets it right tomorrow.