It's desktop vs. mobile and history is repeating itself.I've always been the type of person who sees advances in technology as inevitable, so I tend to embrace them as they emerge, much earlier than others I know. Given that, it's no surprise that I have and love my Kindle and iPhone. I've even gone as far as going on trips without my laptop, only bringing the Kindle+iPhone pair along. And I cannot begin to express how liberating that felt.
There's a lot of similarities between Barnes & Noble's new Nook e-reader and the Amazon Kindle. Notably, both have always-on wireless connections to the internet and the Nook's e-ink screen is very similar to that of the Kindle. Where the two differ in form factor is that the Kindle has a physical keyboard, which I admit that I use very infrequently. The Nook on the other hand has a small, rectangular color touchscreen in the space where the keyboard is on the Kindle. I think this is a big improvement on the Kindle because it opens the door for many new types of interactions. Then again, people always complain about cell phones that lack a physical keyboard. (Why exactly, I've yet to comprehend.)
In conversation with a friend, we both agree that sitting at a desktop, looking at a large screen and typing on a real keyboard part is ideal. Ideal, of course, in certain situations. I don't see the physical desktop keyboard going away any time soon. It's been around since the 1800's, arguably even the 1700's, and yet here we are, possibly 200 years later still using it. I also don't see us moving towards anything other than some kind of screen on the desktop either. There are plenty of reasons why the desktop works, visualed impeccably well by the folks behind 10gui.
But that's just the desktop, and there is certainly a lot of room for new types of interactions away from it. It's this mobile space, away from the desktop, that has some of the most unique kinks to work out. That's where devices with integrated services like the iPhone, Droid, Kindle and Nook come in. In fact, what we're seeing now is not dissimilar to what happened with portable radios in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, if you look at how we're using them (socially) and where we are using them (in both cars and in our hands), it's actually history repeating itself.
For me, I'll continue to embrace the edge and enjoy moving away from the desktop, especially if it means applying new technologies to proven ideas from the past.