We were discussing the future of newspapers with friends this morning over a late breakfast, and I predicted that the paper versions would be around only as niche products in most markets within a few years. My friend either disagreed or played an earnest devil's advocate. "They said the same thing about movie theaters after TV came out," he said.
Didn't seem like a good analogy to me. Movies provide a night on the town, a much more engrossing experience, and some social contact. What do paper newspapers provide over electronic news?
"A tactile experience," he said. I've never been a big fan of the tactile experience of newspapers. I associate it with smudgy fingers. But then I started to think about tactile experiences that I've treasured in my life--and at least a few of them have already vanished into history. Manual typewriters, for instance. I loved the feeling of the play of the keys beneath my fingers, the tap tap on the paper, the engineered quality of an all-metal Smith Corona or Underwood. Typing on it was like shutting the door of a Mercedes. In 1981, I lugged what must have been a 20-pound Smith Corona from New York to Madrid, and I treasured it for its tactile pleasures. Even into the beginning of the Internet age, I was still buying old manual typewriters at garage sales. Now they're gone. replaced by this much lighter and more efficient MacBook Air, which delivers some tactile goodies of its own.
Works for me. And yes, I own a typewriter, on Prince Edward Island though it may be.