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The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled.

I actually read faster and comprehend more on screen.  I also feel like I have more control with a digital device, even if I’m one click away from Twitter.  

Replicating the physical reading experience on the digital screen shouldn’t be the goal.  Learning more is.  You’re one click away from Wikipedia upon reading on a Smartphone or tablet.  That’s more context that helps understand the bigger picture, how it all connects.  

Digital reading is just a different style of consumption that will one day become the mainstream way to learn.  It’s all about pictures anyway.  

Cheers to print!  

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Tablets now Taking A Greater Global Share of Web Page Views Than Smartphones:   Adobe found that Inter­net users view 70 per cent more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone — so tablet users are doing more leisurely (and presumably leisure time) browsing. Even more evidence that “PCs are going to be like trucks.”
Tablets now Taking A Greater Global Share of Web Page Views Than Smartphones:   Adobe found that Inter­net users view 70 per cent more pages per visit when brows­ing with a tablet com­pared to a smartphone — so tablet users are doing more leisurely (and presumably leisure time) browsing. Even more evidence that “PCs are going to be like trucks.”
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“PCs are going to be like trucks”

Steve Jobs in 2010: 

“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms. Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.

PCs are going to be like trucks. They are still going to be around…they are going to be one out of x people…

When I am going to write that 35-page analyst report, I am going to want my Bluetooth keyboard. That’s 1 percent of the time. The software will get more powerful. I think your vision would have to be pretty short to think these can’t grow into machines that can do more things, like editing video, graphic arts, productivity. You can imagine all of these content creation possibilities on these kind of things. Time takes care of lots of these things.”

This year, about five times as many smartphones will be shipped versus PCs, and tablets will surpass PCs for the first time. According to Jobs, the right way to look at this isn’t that mobile devices are creating a new market. It’s that mobile devices are relegating PCs to special-purpose, mostly industrial devices.

People keep clinging on to the fact that some things like Excel or Word are not transferrable to the tablet.  That consolidation will come, the same way everything else is convering (camera, MP3 player, etc.).

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The Tablet Market Grows Cluttered

If Coke is synonymous with soda, the iPad is synonymous with tablet. It doesn’t matter how many different types of sodas or tablet are released, Coke and Apple still own those platforms in branding and take a majority of the profit.

In buying a tablet, you also want the best content. Neither Google nor Microsoft can match the apps in the iTunes Store. That’s why Steve Jobs was so adamant about making it easy for app developers to distribute, even if iTunes only broken even.

Do you want to spend a little extra and buy the Ferrari of tablets or do you want an Acura which gets you to the same places but doesn’t have the speed, sexiness, and gadgets? Think about this analogy if you’re buying a tablet this Christmas.

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Format shifting

We format shift daily, often hourly, without noticing it. Whether you stand up or sit down, compute on the go, you’re probably moving amongst several devices including Smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop.

Every device gets synced to the cloud so we can easily pick up where we left off on any device.

Like many people, I’m just as comfortable writing long-form on the phone as I am a laptop. In fact, I write better with my thumbs. I also prefer to consume my RSS feeds including Twitter, on the iPad since it allows me to see more content in one view. It feels like a lot more clicks to read through those same streams on a laptop/desktop browser.

If you own all devices, you’ve probably figured out by now which activities you enjoy doing on them the most. You’re also equally at comfort with whatever device is closest to you at the time, most typically your phone since it’s in your pocket.

Knowing how to use different devices to work and play is now a fundamental skill, especially for techies and online marketers. Everything on screen is the same yet different.

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“iPad Mini or iPad 4? Life.”
“iPad Mini or iPad 4? Life.”