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Do we really have to be this connected?

November 25, 2008 - Art Smith
The average American home continues to have more and more devices that communicate with people and other things via the Internet. An increasing number of these devices also offer ways to get news and information.

Most modern gaming system connect to the Web in one-way or another. The Nintendo DX for example, a small hand held device will connect to the web to allow people in different locations to play one another. Remarkably simple, it allows children to play together that are not really at the same location. I once witnessed a fight between my daughter and her cousin because one of them chopped down “trees” in a game and the other one pulled up “flowers.” The two of them were not even in the same town when the flurry of angry text messages went flying.

A very popular game on the market now is the Wii, also made by Nintendo. You can access various non-game things on the device. The weather for instance — and the news from around the world. The game also allows you to design players that look like yourself, which is my case is just a little freaky.

The interface that you use to read the news is a little unusual. You are literally reading the news from around the world. I mean the sphere we call Earth. Stories are anchored at the different spots on the planet where they occurred. In news heavy spots like Washington the news piles up, reaching far into space.

To read the stories you simply click on them. This is where things kind of fall apart. Reading the stories on the television is a little clunky. It is a little like reading your newspaper in 10 word chunks. You will not find any local news there either, all the stories are from Associated Press writers, which means they are mainly from large cities.

Far more elegant is the latest generation of Apple's iphone and ipod touch. Both really have become small hand held computers capable of accessing the Web and running thousands of both free and paid applications.

Stores from both The Marietta Times and the News and Sentinel are available on the devices. Readers can read them via our Web site, through our mobile edition, and through a special application that AP developed that gathers news from newspapers and displays based on what ZIP code you want news from. Some newspapers such as The New York Times have developed their own applications that download the latest news whenever you open the application.

All of these Internet devices simply access the Web using the same wireless networks that many people have in their homes so they can access the Internet with their computers without wires running all over the place.

None of the devices replace any of the traditional ways we get the news, they simply add to the options. It is simply impossible to beat the ease of reading a newspaper. You don’t have to turn it on, connect it to anything, launch an application, plug it in, or spend hundreds of dollars to get the device to read it on.
You can however share is with your spouse, clip it out and hang it on the fridge, mail it to your grandmother, plan your shopping trip, and when you are completely done with it, recycle it to make more newspapers. 

It really doesn’t get much easier than that.



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