“Simplify,” Henry David Thoreau tells us in Walden. I am reading this advice in the airport, awaiting a jet plane excursion, just moments after downloading a 464-page collection of his works onto my Kindle, delivered courtesy of the airport wi-fi via Amazon’s “Whispernet” technology in a matter of seconds. Currently, I have Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Arnold’s Culture and Belief, Homer’s The Odyssey, Aristotle’s Poetics, and the entire New Oxford American Dictionary packed onto my Kindle, too. And this mini-library has barely begun to crack the device’s capacity.
I’m lugging these hundreds of thousands of digitized words onto a plane in a 10-ounce electronic device that I easily cradle in the palm of my hand, wondering if this technology, in its own way, falls neatly within Thoreau’s “Simplify” dictum. Or is it a gross perversion?
This is not the only conundrum I will face rereadin...Read More