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"Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure."

To be fair, now, fifteen years later, the hardware to make that reasonable is only just appearing. The vast majority of people has still never bought an ebook.

E-books or not, I'm still buying 90% of my books from Amazon. Which isn't a young company either.

I find it funny that pretty much everything in the first paragraph has actually happened to its fullest. Even the "human contact" he's using as a final argument... most people I know hold at least a couple of close relationships almost exclusively online. Often with family.

Makes me scared when I realize back then I'd have agreed with at least half of it. What is coming in the next 15 years?!

I never bought an ebook but I certainly do more than 95 percent of my reading on a screen.

(Considering that many people sit in front of a screen during their whole workday and read stuff I do not think that hardware was ever the problem. I do not know why people think they would be unable to read books on a LC Display when they have otherwise no problem staring at such screens for hours on end. It’s about image, availability and price, not technology.)

You're making several fundamental mistakes. First, for a lot of what you read on your screen you have no choice. Where else are you going to read it? So the equation there is whether reading on a screen is better than not reading the particular material at all. Whereas with e-books the equation is whether reading on a screen (and the other benefits of e-books) is better than reading a physical book. Given some of the less than desirable characteristics of reading text on an LCD those benefits may not be enough.

Second, you probably spend a lot more time reading on a screen than most people do. If your day job involves using a computer all day (which I'll hazard a guess to a reasonable probability of such, given that this is hacker news) then you'll already have internalized and accepted the tradeoffs of doing a lot of reading on an LCD. But to someone who uses a computer say 1/10th or 1/100th as much as you do they have yet to come to that bridge, and when they do they have a choice as to the technologies they use for screen reading, the slight benefits of e-ink may be enough for them, even if it isn't for you.

There are a lot of computer users in the world who have yet to read, say, 1 thousand words of paragraph after paragraph of text in a single sitting on a device. To them the differences between reading text on physical paper, e-ink, or an LCD may be much more significant than for those of us who already spend our days staring at monitors and feel comfortable doing so.

Reading on a LCD is definitely different (even harder) than reading text on paper. You need to get used to it.

But I would argue that more and more people are. And more and more might just be enough. A big minority in any richer country might just do the job.

I’m not sure whether LCDs will be inside the devices which finally bring digital books to the masses but I do think it’s a distinct possibility. I do think they are good enough.

But the idea is to envision what the future will be like. In the article he couldn't imagine the world as it is now. A simple idea like the newspaper being outdated was beyond him.

Next thing you know that crazy guy will be talking about laptops for young poor children around the world. This is absurd and clearly will never happen.

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