The iPad Solves the E-reader's Design Problems

The iPad might not save newspapers, but it is going to save the e-reader. Years ago, I took a tour of a tech company's "house of...


The iPad might not save newspapers, but it is going to save the e-reader.Years ago, I took a tour of a tech company's "house of the future" (which was actually a few rooms in the ground floor corner of a low-rise office park). Humble interior design was furnished by IKEA but no matter-the main attraction was what was hidden rather than what was seen: the technology itself. Some of it might have proven useful-a centralized control system for security, heating and cooling, and home entertainment, for example-but on my tour I remember thinking mostly about what might go wrong: imagine your frustration when your laptop crashes; how would you feel if your house died? Among all the bells and whistles, the feature I can't forget was the most sublimely ridiculous. "We've created," explained my breathless guide, "a remote that allows you turn the oven on from your backyard."What?Fortunately (for fire departments everywhere) a backyard-oven-remote-craze has not swept the country. But the idea itself is emblematic of a pernicious trend: too often we turn to high technology to address problems that might well be solved by simpler means (or in the case of the oven remote, problems that aren't problems at all).Take the Kindle, or any of the myriad e-readers now hitting the marketplace, many of which launched earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada at the shiny Consumer Electronics Show: the Nook, the Que, the Skiff, the EnTourage, the Blio, the Cybook Opus, the BeBook, the EGriver, the Sony Reader. While several gadgets in the last decade have deservedly become objects of affection-remember those silver-backed first-generation iPods, which one could lovingly engrave like a family heirloom?-others hardly merit the adoring press that attends to their release. I've spent some time with the Kindle, and the device-unwieldy and unhandsome-engenders no love or loyalty. It's functional, yes, but promoting the Kindle for its functionality is like praising the "great personality" of a blind date. There's just not quite enough there there.And let me ask, are you having trouble gaining access to the written word? Do you wake each morning wondering how you will learn of the day's news or find the new Joshua Ferris novel? I'm guessing no. All of this exists right now on the device you already possess-your computer or Smartphone (let us not speak of your dying bookstore). Yet these many competing companies, convinced that technology is a balm for all that ails, continue to spend millions of dollars and massive amounts of brainpower so that you might read an assemblage of letters on yet another glittering new surface.With few exceptions, makers of e-readers are still failing to address the bigger problem, which remains the creation, distribution, and monetization of content. When it arrived, the iPod was more than a music player; it revolutionized music sales. Similarly, a successful e-reader will need to be more than a compelling interface (which the Kindle severely lacks); it will need to introduce a whole new way of thinking about what's onscreen and how it will get there. The questions haven't changed: Who will pay for content? How much are people willing to pay for it? Will advertising continue to be the core of content business models? Will some sort of pay wall work? How will content be shared or restricted?The many E-reader creators who continue to think in oven-remote terms-building shiny toys that don't solve core problems-do so at their own peril, while those who, in the future, manage to merge a greatly designed thing with a smartly designed system stand to earn a handsome profit. Take it from a kid whose dad bought a Betamax. In the meantime, while we wait on bended knee for the new Holy Grail-the recently announced, hitherto-cloaked-in-secrecy Apple iPad-you might want to grab a few quarters, pick up a coffee, and read the newspaper the old-fashioned way: one unwieldy, ink-stained page at a time.Ah, I was about to write, "at press time", before remembering what a rare occurrence press time has become. So, literally, as I sit here typing, Steve Jobs has just stepped offstage after launching the iPad (I am not the first to point out that Apple needs a few women in its naming department). Is it a gorgeous gadget? Of course. Does it signal the end of the road for the Kindle and its kin? Probably, and for a lot of reasons: You can use the iPad as a computer, you can send email, draw, take notes, watch movies, play games, and use all of your beloved apps. For $499. And, though surely they could have introduced a device years ago whose design would far outstrip the inelegant Kindle, Apple waited until it could solve real design problems. Will it save the newspapers and networks and magazines and book publishers? That's a task too large even for Apple, but it does seem that Jobs & Co. have shown a particular sensitivity to the importance of paid content, offering more equitable royalty deals to authors and publishers than Amazon, for example, and helping to define potential business models for struggling entities like The New York Times. It's a worthy first step.Allison Arieff is the Pepsi Refresh Project Ambassador for Food and Shelter. Learn more about the Pepsi Refresh Project here, and submit your own idea for how to move the world forward here.


Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.