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From Gutenburg to Playaway:Technology Takes Another Leap - Essay Example

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Summary
Whenever technology improves the ability to circulate literature knowledge improves along with it. The Gutenburg press was instrumental in getting the first printed material into the hands of the public. …
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From Gutenburg to Playaway:Technology Takes Another Leap
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From Gutenburg to Playaway:Technology Takes Another Leap

Download file to see previous pages... Technology made it possible to create the eBook and the MP3 format for digitizing books and audio in a compact and portable format. Today we have the Playaway, a self-contained audio book that is easy to use and portable. Though it has several drawbacks, it is a welcome addition to the field of audio books especially for the sight impaired people who may be a little less than technical savvy.The Playaway has the advantage of being portable and self-contained. The Playaway is a small device about the size of a cassette tape (without the player) that is a self-contained audio book. It is battery operated and has a small set of earplugs to add to its portability. Each Playaway comes with a pre-loaded book and is dedicated to that book. It has no need for an Internet connection, downloading, or changing of CDs or memory cards. The user can scan through the book and play the portion they desire. It is reusable and simple to operate, which makes it attractive for library use. Libraries can change the batteries and have it back on the shelf ready to check out to another patron in a short time. Its small size and ease of operation makes it simple to use, as no other equipment is necessary.The Playaway is a great product that may be on the verge of becoming the "genius idea" that Oprah Magazine has proclaimed it to be. Though it is little more than current technology that has been repackaged for a specific purpose, it is stunning that its simplicity is its greatest asset. Cassette and MP3 players have been around for years but have required the use of external media to make them work. Tapes wore out and MP3s needed to be downloaded or copied. With the Playaway all those drawbacks are eliminated. Simply plug in the headphones and play away. This makes it easier than ever to listen to a book in any situation where you may be unable or unwilling to read. That is the genius of the Playaway.
Critics have been saying for years that our wide exposure to television, the Internet, and movies may have the potential to create a generation of illiterate youth. This could be a concern when putting children's books on the Playaway to substitute for reading. It has been touted with the usual marketing hype of, "Imagine providing students with an option to listen to their book in the car, in their room or on the bus. We might be able to hook a whole new generation onto reading through osmosis" (Bowllan, 2006). It may make it easier to access literature for young students, but may give them a disadvantage when presented with the written word. Reliance on technology for information can stunt the normal progress of education. With enough material, a child may never have the desire to learn to read.
Using the Playaway as a substitute method of reading for children detracts from the Playaway's real value. The purpose of the Playaway is to listen to a book when you aren't able to read. This may be while driving a car or due to impaired vision. Here it is light years ahead of the competition. It is simpler to use than the standard MP3 player. This makes it ideal for the elderly, blind, or people who just can't operate technology. It is as simple to use as pressing the play button and turning up the volume. No need to change cassettes or CDs. While it is ideal for the technically challenged, it also has features that appeal to the more technically inclined. It has bookmarks that allow a user to return to a preset location in the book to replay or begin reading. It has almost no moving parts. It has minimal buttons, which should give it a lifespan comparable to a cell phone or a calculator. The simplicity and versatility is the real value of the Playaway.
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