Friday, December 07, 2007

Death Knell For Newspapers

#330 Death Knell for Newspapers

Paulie always said there'd always be newspapers because you can't take the computer into the bathroom. Paulie was wrong. Just ask him. He's got this mini computer, weighs maybe a pound and a half and has wireless internet. Now, his big worry is getting electrocuted. But he just shrugs: "how much electric can there be in that little battery. No worries."

He's right. You can take the computer into the john. You can take the computer on the line in the supermarket and read all about it without getting ink all over your hands.

This, says Paulie, is the end of the newspaper. "I paid 350 bucks for this thing. A year away, I've made it back by not buying the Post." Rupert Murdoch should worry. When Paulie says stuff like that, it's time to sell your stock in Ink-O-Rama and National Newsprint and Tribune Company. That's because Paulie is always the last guy to latch on to the latest.

If he could have kept it going, he'd still have his '48 DeSoto on the road. As it is, he made it last longer than anyone else. The Last DeSoto.

Paulie isn't overjoyed with its replacement, a 1966 Oldsmobile. And he isn't overjoyed with the mini computer, either. But he's a man of his word and now that he can read it on the throne he's doing it. Even though the typing keys are much to small for his stubby, arthritic fingers. Even though you have to remember to charge up the battery at night. Even though the screen is only seven inches, which means there's some squinting involved. He's not complaining because he doesn't need the keys all that often, and he has to squint at the paper these days, anyway.

Paulie's particular interest in the newspaper centers around the stuff that's really important in this life. The racing and sports pages, the TV listings and the obituaries. He doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to the other stuff. And he recently got a geeky schoolkid to see if there's a way to make the box scores a little bigger on the page.
There isn't. But maybe the kid can figure something out.

Paulie doesn't quite trust the machine, so he hasn't canceled his subscription to the Racing Form yet. But he's come over to the tech side of life, and is ever discovering new things. Like e-mail ("these guys want to lend me money? Send me coupons? Enlarge my, um... well, you know.") And...

"Hey, did you know you can play solitaire on this thing? AND you can cheat?"

The only thing that'll change his mind about the machine is if it lands in the sink when he's washing his hands afterward. And so far, he's been pretty careful. And he's invented his own security system for the thing. No one else who knows where it's been will touch it.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them. © 2007


Peter S. said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your theory here. There's a stock market corollary that works nearly perfectly: when you hear some random person on the street or some clerk in a store talk about that hot stock, it's time to sell every single share in the immediate vicinity.

Luckily, I don't own any newspaper stocks!

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