Last weekend, my wife and I met up with my wife’s cousin and his girlfriend for breakfast.
We got there a little early. Normally, I would pull out my iPhone and catch up on some reading in Instapaper or my RSS reader.
But when we sat down in the waiting area, there were newspapers on the seats. My wife picked up the one on her chair. I did the same. And then we started reading them.
Something gained. Something lost.
I love what the web has done for publishing, but in that moment, I realized that while we’ve gained a lot, we’ve also lost something.
Glowing screens are addictive. They cause you to block out the world around you in a way that print does not, like bugs drawn to a bug zapper. That’s actually what I love about e-ink. No glow. I was so much more aware of the world around me.
I didn’t have to worry about scrolling, what app to open, or how to orient my device. I didn’t concern myself with what link to click or button to push or what social network to share what I’d just read on. I just had to turn the page and read. And if it was something interesting, I mentioned it to my wife, who was sitting right there beside me.
On top of that, the tactile nature of the paper itself is emotionally satisfying in a way that words beneath glowing glass are not.
Web publishing has given us a lot, and I’m grateful for it. But it’s also taken something away.