Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Paper and E-Paper

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

Paper and E-Paper

Article excerpt

IT took thousands of years to standardize the "book." The book's history is quite interesting. I've seen the Rosetta stone several times at the British Museum. Our records of early language and the various early alphabets are largely from carvings on rocks (with a few limbs, teeth, tusks, and bones thrown in for good measure). With the invention of paper, we find pages and scrolls. I had the opportunity to see some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are fascinating to view as such conventions as paragraphs, indenting, etc., hadn't been adopted yet. I saw one of the Gutenberg Bibles at the Library of Congress, and it's quite beautiful. Gutenberg may have popularized printing, but it was many years before the format of the book become standard and the publishing (versus printing) industry developed.

Look at the beautiful books from this era. Called illuminated books or manuscripts, these books are truly lovely. Then, over the years, the beauty of the printed page degraded until we were producing high numbers of ugly computer printouts. But the Web brought back the illumination (and reduced the pin-fed printout piles). Bright pictures, charts, intense interest in type faces and sizes, streaming or animated movement, and other innovations brought visual interest to the pages we were scrolling and reading with wonder again.


Have you seen the Harry Potter movies or read the books? Harry's own books (or at least those in the Hogwarts library) are amazing! You open the book and see a blank page-which magically starts to have text appear. You can sometimes write on the page only to have it answer. Occasionally a picture comes to life and communicates with you. Sometimes it's oneway direct communication and sometimes it can respond to spoken questions. Is it magic? Is it impossible to do in real life? Maybe.

The recent merger of Adobe and Macromedia sent my imagination flying. Adobe, of course, creates the wildly popular proprietary Acrobat PDF (portable document format) for storing and sharing documents. Macromedia creates the FLASH software plug-in that lets you create animations for the Web. It's easy to imagine a document that contains animations. Imagine electronic science textbooks that show the experiment in progress. Imagine simple alphabet readers with animated letters. Imagine books that engage the reader while still respecting the communication qualities of text.


You've probably heard of e-paper and e-ink. This is the emerging technology that creates thin, flexible, paperlike displays. The simple definition from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, states:

Electronic paper, or e-paper, is a technology that allows the text on a piece of paper to be re-written. The "paper" is actually made of organic electronics that use conductive plastic which contains tiny balls that respond to an electric charge, changing the page in much the same way that pixels change on a computer monitor. Electronic paper was developed in order to overcome some of the limitations of computer monitors. For example, the backlighting of monitors is hard on the human eye, whereas electronic paper reflects light just like normal paper. It is easier to read at an angle than flat screen monitors. Because it is made of plastic, electronic paper has the potential to be flexible. It is light and potentially inexpensive.

Sony has used e-paper technology as part of its LIBRI PDA device since 2004. Fujitsu debuted flexible electronic paper in July 2005 [http://www.overclockers]. Most excitingly, this e-paper is not only bendable, but it supports color! It has an image memory ability, which means that it doesn't need power to sustain the picture on the paper. …

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