This think tank was organized to envision the shape of journalism and how we will access it in the years ahead. (Maybe in the months ahead, if the surge in newspaper bankruptcy filings continues apace.)
After two days of discussions we all gathered for dinner one evening, and almost as if on cue about half a dozen of the assembled journalist conferees whipped out their iPhones and began animatedly comparing the cool location-based tools, internet radio programs, carpenter's levels, flashlights, and family pictures each had stored in their handheld internet-connected computers that also happen to be a phone.
As they marveled over their new mobile friends, I pointed out that the future delivery platform for journalism, at least a bright harbinger, already had been invented. It was in their hands. This was the first time in the two days I saw people so engaged, intrigued, and excited about information and how they were getting, organizing, and using it.
Conventional websites and dead trees newspapers seemed so ancient by comparison. (And I still subscribe to three print newspapers a day.)
And now we also have the second-generation Kindle, an electronic book reader from Amazon. Just as the desktop computer, the internet-connected laptop, and the mobile phone have all changed the way we access information and each other, my money is on a vast explosion of mobile internet-connected computing devices that hybridize the best of the iPhone/iPod Touch platform and the somewhat larger Amazon Kindle. Each intrigues but neither fully satisfies.
The iPhone/iPod Touch offers a great screen with wonderful color fidelity, the Kindle's is bigger and easier for reading but is only grayscale and not backlit. Like the iPhone, the Kindle is net connected via its SprintNet cellular modem, which allows downloading of books, but also any Acrobat PDF or Word.doc file you email it. Little touted, this for me is Kindle's killer feature.