Arnold Kling  

A Book is Just a Very Long Text Message

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Launched in England less than a year ago, ICUE software lets users read novels on their cell phone without the irritation of constantly scrolling through blocks of text displayed on the small screen. Instead, the text is flashed on the screen one word (or short phrase) at a time.

The simple java application is based on the tachistoscope, a rapid image recognition device. Invented by the United States Air Force, it was first used to train pilots to recognize enemy planes from a distance. The device was later used to teach speed-reading techniques.

...While Tappuni says the company plans to launch ICUE in the United States, it will only do so once it has cracked the more technologically sophisticated UK market. "The UK is 18 months to two years ahead of the US cellular market," Tappuni says. "Only 35 percent of Americans have sent a text message, as compared to almost 100 percent in the UK."


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Paul writes:

Oh, absolutely not. I'll stick to my laptop and archaic bound parchment, please.

John Thacker writes:

"The UK is 18 months to two years ahead of the US cellular market," Tappuni says. "Only 35 percent of Americans have sent a text message, as compared to almost 100 percent in the UK."

1) The UK, like many foreign countries, has similar "caller pays" structures for cell phones as they do for landlines, unlike the US. Inbound calls are free.
2) As a result, calling a cellular phone in most other countries is more expensive than calling a landline, unlike in the US.
3) Also as a result, cellular phone packages provide fewer calling minutes in the UK and such countries.

3) seems to be responsible for a large part in the more rapid adoption of text messages in the UK. The heavier use of trains and subways, where texting is allowed but talking often not (as opposed to planes where neither are or driving where talking is safer than texting), also drives the use of text messages.

Therefore, "18 months to two years ahead" is a fairly irrelevant statement. It has little to do with adoption of technology outside of these other factors. It's unclear that it will ever necessarily change in the US, due to these other factors.

cbisquit writes:

That seems a lot like RSVP. It's fairly common PDA and smartphone software. I use it all the time to read books at around 400 wpm. Even wrote a little program to convert e-texts to mpeg movies so I could use it with my relatively dumb mp3/movie player.

R. Richard Schweitzer writes:

These people obviously have not seen the device, which is similar to "sun glasses" that can plug into a video iPod and give one the effect of a full screen. Adaption to cell phones should be close at hand.

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