Geoffrey Long
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Strange Little Beast: On Newly-Owning a PSP.
It's been something I've waffled over doing ever since I first joined up with GAMBIT. Should I? Shouldn't I? It's a lot of money, the ROI is somewhat questionable, but... But... Finally, yesterday the stars aligned, the proper slot machine tumblers of fate finally clunked into place, I was in the right place and the right time, and I found myself slapping my credit card down to buy a shiny new Sony PlayStation Portable, AKA the PSP.

What were the factors? I'm so glad you asked.

Research. I've been considering the PSP as a great platform for transmedia extensions for a while now, but the release of Assassin's Creed II: Bloodlines as a PSP-only narrative bridge between the Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II console games clinched the deal. Throw in the PSP-exclusive Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and this reason hit #1 with a bullet.

Timing. Call it a near-miss of synchronicity: not only do I turn 32 on Sunday, but yesterday was the PlayStation's 15th birthday. This is making me feel both old and nostalgic; the fact that I can buy Final Fantasy VII at all for the PSP is awesome, but I vividly remember being a freshman in college and having my socks knocked off by my friend Kurt's shiny new copy of Final Fantasy VII. What can I say? I wanted to give myself a birthday present, and so I gave Sony a birthday present of my money.

Curiosity. Discovering the existence of a cradle for the PSP made me imagine using the PSP as an always-on Internet appliance. I've been looking at things like the tiny little Mimo USB-driven minidisplays and the new Chumby One as small Internet-enabled devices, functioning as simple kiosks for things like Flickr and Twitter.

So now I have my very own PSP-3000, courtesy of the PSP 3000 Limited Edition Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines Entertainment Pack. It's a strange color, described by Sony as 'pearl white'. This is something of a misnomer; I was expecting something kind of irridescent, like, well, a pearl. It isn't. Instead, the thing glitters. It's not that bad, especially when it's in a relatively low-light situation, but when the sun hits it just right, the sucker glitters like goddamned Edward. (Yes, I went there.) Again, it's not that bad, but I'm admittedly considering buying some kind of leather sheath for the device to man it up a little.

I haven't gotten to play the game very much yet, but so far my expectations for this device as a pocket computer have been coming down on the wobbly side. It's not entirely Sony's fault; I've been a heavy iPhone user since its initial release, so many of my expectations for what a portable device can and should be have been notably skewed – but when I started playing with the PSP, I realized that I had completely taken for granted that I'd be able to obtain some kind of dedicated Twitter app for this thing. Not only is that only apparently not the case (at least without hacking the device and installing some alternate form of OS, perhaps) but the experience of typing on this beast has been so utterly execrable that the very thought of attempting to write on this thing for even 140 characters at a time makes my ass twitch. Even attempting to pull up the Twitter site on a PSP is a groanworthy undertaking – not only is the browser astonishingly slow, but the wi-fi connection must be reestablished every time you launch it. This makes sense at some level – switching the wi-fi on and off as needed is a logical way to extend battery life – but asking me which of my established networks it wants me to to connect to every time is ridiculous, especially when the two choices are the network here on campus and the network at home. One simple bit of automated checking would have removed this annoyance: if one network is available and the other isn't, don't ask.

Another aspect of this thing which is distinctly odd is the sensation of having a spinning piece of physical media in the back of the device, and almost no on-deck storage. Again, this is almost certainly the result of being an early adopter of the iPhone and a very, very late adopter of the PSP, but I was somewhat amazed that I couldn't install my copy of Bloodlines to some kind of internal drive and then retire the Universal Media Disc (UMD). True, I can't do that with my Nintendo DS, either, but for some reason I thought of the PSP as a more forward-thinking device. Ha.

In fact, for a brief little while after first popping the UMD into the device I seriously considered taking the thing back and getting a PSP Go instead – and this is despite the litany, or even cacophony, of utterly disastrous reviews that have been lambasting the Go. As Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera so devastatingly advised Sony, "when your older, cheaper hardware is better and more able than your new offering, you need to fire some designers". Ouch.

So why was I even considering swapping the PSP-3000 for a PSP Go? First, I'm a design junkie, and the Go's slider-style industrial design is very sexy. Second, I'm also a digital downloads enthusiast – I can't remember the last time I bought a CD, and my physical Netflix discs have been sitting on the shelf gathering dust ever since Netflix Streaming arrived – and the PSP's digital-download only model is, in the abstract, incredibly attractive to me. Plus, the PSP Go is smaller, and as I noted in an earlier post, recent health issues have made me start to seriously reconsider how much junk I'm willing to carry around on a daily basis. If I'm going to add another device to my satchel, it'd better weigh as little as possible.

Still, the naysayers on the Go have me convinced. The fact that Sony's digital download versions are more expensive than the physical versions is a deal-killer, amplified by the fact that I can't buy heavily-discounted used UMDs and rip them into playable digital versions the way I might buy some used CDs and rip them into perfectly servicable MP3s. Sony also backed off on a planned trade-in program swapping physical media for digital versions, so UMDs and the PSP Go will apparently never get along – and since Crisis Core isn't available on for digital downloading yet, then 25% of the games driving me to buy a PSP at all just went away. (That number jumps up to a full one third given that Birth by Sleep isn't out yet.) I'm clearly a Square-Enix fan, as 75% of my PSP game wishlist are Squeenix games, but God knows I'm not the only one. Sony's managed to get Squeenix to put FFVII on their digital download service and (I think) the Final Fantasy-themed brawler Dissidia (itself a chimera of somewhat dubious genetics), but until Squeenix commits that all its future games will be available for downloading, then owning a PSP Go makes no sense for me.

As it is, this strange little device represents a fascinating new toy to tinker with over the holidays. I'm looking forward to taking it on our honeymoon so I can whack some Templars while en route to Florida, and I'm holding out hope that when I really start tinkering with it I can hack it to do some of the other things I thought it might be able to do out of the box – but I can't shake the feeling that in this post-iPhone environment, Sony is really missing out by not making those very functions stock. I'd pay a couple extra bucks per function if Sony enabled app downloads on their PlayStation Network, letting me set up my PSP as a kind of Chumby lite. I'd also jump at the chance to buy the PS2's Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II on it the same way that I can get Final Fantasy VII, but apparently they're not available yet – or if they will ever be made available at all.

This drives home one of the negative affordances inherent in games as opposed to books, music or (now) even movies: books, music and movies all convert fairly well to portable versions which can be stored on one's laptop or phone, but console video games are almost completely locked down into one's living room. The PSP offers a function called 'remote play' which was, I believe, designed to address that somewhat, and the screen-to-screen interaction between Assassin's Creed II on the PS3 and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines on the PSP is what drove me to switch to the PlayStation versions of the franchise from the Xbox 360 version I have of Assassin's Creed – but there is still such a very long, long way to go before I can be playing Uncharted 2 on my living room couch, pause the game, run out and jump on a bus to work, then pop open my PSP and continue the game from where I left off. Even taking greatly reduced graphics and other concessions to the form as givens, I feel like this is where we're heading. The fact that we're not there yet is slightly annoying – especially as games are attempting to become bigger and bigger components of the media diet of increasingly over-busy adults.

At the end of the day, I'm still fairly happy I bought my PSP, and I'm still looking forward to playing with it. That said, I'm looking forward even more to playing with what comes next, in the hopes that it will do what I hoped this device would do – and, with a little luck, the PSP2 or whatever it's called will arrive before it has an entirely new set of unrealistic expectations set for it by the rest of the market.


The nebulous case for a netbook/notebook.

For the past week-and-some-change my old brother-in-arms Nick Bastin has been hanging out at our place, taking an extended vacation here in Boston. In between marathon sessions of Rock Band, Lego Rock Band and Beatles Rock Band (see a trend emerging here?) Nick and I have been debating the issue of netbooks. For the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, a number of vendors have been slashing their prices on netbooks, bringing them down into impulse-buy range. The one that I was eyeballing, Dell's Mini 9, is the same beastie that another old brother-in-arms, David Seitzinger, had some luck hacking into a usable 9" Mac netbook, and although he had a few cautionary words on the experience, I was all set to pull the trigger and order one of those beasties to use as a small word processor when the damn thing sold out. Rats.

Still, it's just as well – since Apple is apparently doing their best to crush the of-questionable-legality practice of installing Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware, I should probably wait until Apple does release a similar piece of hardware. I could also just use Linux or Windows, but really what I want is something smaller and lighter then my MacBook Pro (or a 12" MacBook, for that matter) and yet more feature-rich than my iPhone that I can carry around with me and take some of the strain off of my back. For the last few weeks I've been limping around due to a pinched nerve of some kind in my leg, and one of the underlying causes for sciatic nerve pain is something wrong with one's back. This is making me reconsider the wisdom of my shoulder bag – and what it is that I really need.

A Portable Toolkit

For the longest time, I lugged around an absolutely ridiculous amount of hardware. The general idea was that my bag contained a mobile media studio – camera, videocamera, audio recorder, some video game equipment, art supplies, laptop, etc. As I've gotten older, I've traded portability for power: my digital SLR camera largely sits unused, replaced by a tiny digital Elph; I usually use my laptop more than either desktop machine (and, in fact, my desktop machine at home hasn't been functional in months); and my portable game devices are getting more use than the ones hooked up in my living room. Unfortunately, I think my back is paying for it.

That's why I've started eyeballing the netbooks. For the next little while, the major thing I need a machine for will be word processing. I'm not using Photoshop anywhere near as much as I used to, and I'm not even using Microsoft Word so much as I am using BBEdit or Scrivener. What I'm considering is using a netbook as a simple portable typewriter, and I'd like to have something super lightweight and super tiny that I could still use my preferred workflow setup on – hence the desire for a Mac netbook, to run BBEdit and Scrivener.

What I really, really want to do is store my documents in the cloud and then access those files from anywhere with a small, yet fully-featured, device. If I could hook a keyboard up to my iPhone and run a Scrivener or BBEdit client on that, I would – but we're not there yet.

The Best Is Yet To Come?

It's entirely possible that the best thing for me simply doesn't exist yet. I'm still absolutely enthralled by the Microsoft Courier prototype tablet that's been making the rounds. What I love about it is that this monster is essentially a digital Moleskine, replicating the functions of a pocket notebook (note taking, scrapbooking, mindmapping and/or to-do list management) while slotting neatly in between the phone and the primary computer. Although there's no evidence to support it yet, my suspicion is that the device can be turned sideways and one of the screens becomes an iPhone-esque virtual keyboard. Even if it doesn't, though, I'd still love to get my hands on one and discover how ti fits into my workflow.

Another experiment I've been considering is what kind of a computer could fit into a camera bag. I've considered building such a device ever since being squeezed behind a big fat guy on the gruesomely-long plane ride back from Singapore, using either a netbook or a phone of some sort as the CPU and hooking it up to a rollable keyboard and a set of goggles for the visual interface. I'm not sure I'm ready to get all Johnny Mnemonic in public yet, but it would be a neat thing to try out.


Another thing I've considered is hauling one of my dead laptops out of storage and attempting to Frankenstein something out of that – I have an old PowerBook 1400c that's begging to be put to some use, and a Lombard that I still consider to be the prettiest chassis Apple's made in decades – but none of these satisfy the 'smaller and lighter' requirement. There's some real appeal to using something really antiquated and figuring out how to make it suit my needs, but the weight thing is a deal killer. Even a MacBook Air isn't quite what I've got in mind yet.

Something's Gotta Give

I suppose Apple will have something to announce in 2010, since they've got to be feeling the recessionary hurt in their computer division if not the iPod and iPhone divisions, but we'll see. As I was saying to Nick this week, we're in the middle of another hardware lull, which is bad timing for the industry. Although nobody's buying a lot of hardware right now, I suspect I'm not the only one who would find the money to spend if there was something obviously worth spending it on.

Until something gives, though, this is likely to remain just a thought experiment. The problem is a pain but not enough of one yet to warrant spending a ton of money or time to fix it; in another 6-8 months, hopefully something will come a little more clearly into focus. Perhaps the Courier will finally reach the market, or perhaps Apple's long-brewing entry into this field will be another game changer. In the meantime, I'm keeping an eye on the super sales.


On Vooks and Transmedia Resistance.

On April 4, 2009, the New York Times ran a piece by Brad Stone called "Is This the Future of the Digital Book?". In it, Stone writes:

Bradley Inman wants to create great fiction, dramatic online video and compelling Twitter stream -- and then roll them all into a multimedia hybrid that is tailored to the rapidly growing number of digital reading devices.

Mr. Inman, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, calls this digital amalgam a "Vook," ( and the fledgling company he has created with that name just might represent a possible future for the beleaguered book industry.

Inman's been working in the digitally-augmented publishing space for a while now: he's the founder of TurnHere, which creates promotional videos for authors and publishers. In 2008, Inman wrote a thriller called "The Right Way to Do Wrong" and used his company to film 24 short videos to "augment the book's main mystery". While I haven't seen the videos or read the book, based on Stone's piece this sounds like an interesting piece of transmedia storytelling - and as a transmedia storyteller, Inman's in a good place to create a new way for multiple components of such transmedia franchises to be delivered together.

The catch is whether or not the key to transmedia storytelling is in keeping the components distinct.

Based only on Stone's piece, the picture being painted of a Vook is similar to an old multimedia CD-ROM experience. Imagine a book filled with the usual pages of text, but then instead of the occasional half-page or full-page illustration you have a QuickTime window that plays a short video clip, embedded right in the flow of the text. We've been down this particular path before a decade ago, and the results there weren't so magnificient. Such radically compressed switches between media forms felt jarring and largely annoying.

I've described this phenomenon before as 'transmedia resistance', although previously I've focused on this as the reluctance of someone to follow a narrative out of one media form and into another due to a prejudice against the new form. The example I like to use is of a fan of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer who refuses to pick up the 'eighth season' of the story since it's being told as comics. Some possible reasons for such resistance may include:

  • comics are expensive
  • the fear of dealing with 'comic book guy'
  • comics are "for kids"
  • the stigma against comics as a culture is too great
  • they may not know the mechanics of comics
  • comics aren't television

When the transmedia experience is collapsed into one single delivery mechanism, such a CD-ROM or perhaps one of Inman's vooks, some of these issues are addressed and others remain inherently problematic. The first two simply vanish - the expense is absorbed into the cost of the entire experience, and there is no need to deal with 'comic book guy'. These are both progress.

The second two not only remain, but they may in fact be powerful enough to devalue the experience as a whole. If part of a story for adults is told as comics, then some heavily prejudiced audience members may no longer consider the story to be for adults, or the story may be designed for a 'geek culture' that the audience member wants no part of. These external forces are going to plague transmedia stories until they don't - which is a simplistic thing to say, yet is also accurate. Audiences were prejudiced against superhero movies until a string of really great superhero movies convinced the mass audience that superhero movies could be good; unfortunately comics as a medium is still struggling to prove that it is as accessible to mass audiences as its characters. Listing the reasons for that would make up an entire other essay, but it's possible that such a tide shift may have to be generational. Video games have overcome much of this stigma already due to so many twenty- and thirtysomethings having grown up with video games in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. When kids who grew up with Pokémon and other manga reach full adulthood, the stigma against comics and its associated 'geek culture' may dissipate in a similar fashion - but that remains to be seen.

The last two are particularly troubling, and for pretty much the same reason. An unfamiliarity with the mechanics of comics results in an experience not that dissimilar from trying to follow a conversation that lapses into multiple languages. Even if you're familiar with the multiple tongues, unless you're completely fluent in all of them there's still a mental 'grinding of gears' as your mind shifts from one language to the next. The same thing happens in transmedia stories - and when it happens in the course of an encapsulated experience such as these old CD-ROMs or, possibly, Inman's vooks, an audience member is jarred out of the state of narrative flow. It's a disruption that frequently reminds the audience that what they're experiencing isn't real, but is in effect a mediated experience. People don't like this kind of disruption when they're trying to lose themselves in a fictional world; this is one reason why we don't have concession vendors walking up and down the aisles of movie theaters the way we do at baseball games.

Such disruption is lessened when it comes between distinct chapters, such as at the transition point between the seventh and eighth seasons of Buffy, because the audience member's mind is already out of the narrative world and is simply preparing to re-enter it, but it's still there. When an audience member is used to engaging with the narrative world in one media form, switching to another (as from television to comics) frequently makes the brain whine. "I'm used to experiencing this in this one form," the mind whines. "Why do I have to do work to experience it in another?" This is an important part to note - like all translation, until complete fluency is achieved, such a switch is, in fact, work. People will do it when the perceived payoff is sufficient - and, in fact, they may eagerly anticipate such switches, such as when a television series like Firefly makes the jump to the big screen in a film like Serenity. Such anticipation usually occurs when the audience member is both fluent in the new media form and in the new media form's unique advantages. A fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who loves the visuals may be thrilled by a move to comics or film, but a fan who's more interested in the internal workings of the characters and their relationships might be more interested if the series were to continue as novels.

Long story short, the key to such transmedia storytelling might be in maintaining a careful balance between consistently delivering good, quality content in distinct forms (always a good idea) and guiding the audience from one media form to the next without forcing it down their throats. Skillful transmedia storytelling, like any sufficiently advanced technology, might be indistinguishable from magic - until all the reasons I listed above are swept away by either fluency or some kind of a cultural shift, there is likely to be a subtle sleight of hand required to overcome such transmedia resistance. Delivering each component in a way that feels incomplete and then making the transmedia switch mandatory - such as reading one chapter of a vook as text and then having the next appear as a video clip - might run headlong into a concrete wall of transmedia resistance, with all the unpleasant results therein.


The philosophical quandary of post-cloud hard drive upgrades.

Okay, so I'm having a little bit of a strange crisis at the moment. I've noticed lately that Remiel, my 2006-era MacBook Pro, has been slo-o-o-o-owing do-o-o-own. The spinny pinwheel of death has been appearing more and more frequently, and the poor little guy just ain't what he used to be. Loading my email takes forever, as does loading applications. When I approached my friend Mike about it, he groaned and said that he'd seen those symptoms before. He suggested that maybe I was nearing a catastrophic hard drive failure.


Okay, so maybe I need a new hard drive. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - the beastie only has a 100GB drive in her to start with, which has grown increasingly stuffed with various applications, media and other bric-a-brac. Clearing a bunch of that out is likely to help as well, but this has brought me to something of a philosophical quandary: given my recent decision to move into the cloud, how much sense does it make to buy a 7200RPM 500GB hard drive, even if is less than $150 now? I could buy this monster and thus have enough hard drive space to never worry about offloading photos and videos from my 16GB miniSD card again (well, not for a while anyway), but I'm growing increasingly concerned with the idea of data loss. That's why I bought the Western Digital Mirror Edition 2TB drive for backups at home - and the idea is that I'd offload all the photos and videos and whatnot onto that - but this recent trip showed me that when you're on the road, the cloud isn't always there for you, and it's not always feasible to try and move large amounts of data up and down that way. Worse, the bigger the hard drive, the more likely it is that (knowing me) the time between backups will just get bigger and bigger, thus increasing the likelihood of total catastrophic data loss if something should go wrong with said laptop. So theoretically I should buy a smaller hard drive to enforce my 'encloudification' and minimize any data loss, but it's hard to buck the notion of "yeah, but it's only a few bucks more..." Et cetera, et cetera.

What do you folks think?


[C3] The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?

I have a new post up today over at the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium weblog, "The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?" In it, I basically stare agog at the awesomeness that is PaperCamp, a one-day event that went down on January 17th in London and that I'm kicking myself for having missed. At the end of the piece I start ruminating a little about how PaperCamp and its 'protospimes' tie into my recent thinking on the idea of The Converged Author, which is definitely shaping up to be one of my key research topics of 2009. Check it out!

The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?
Man, I hate hearing about an awesome conference just after the thing's wrapped up. So it is this week with PaperCamp, which went down in London on January 17th. Here's the description of the event from its own webpage:
What is PaperCamp?
A get-together for a day to talk about, fiddle with, make and explore what's possible with paper based on a blog post ( where a lot of people seemed enthusiastic about the idea. PaperCamp is a 'fringe' event to BookCamp, in London's Kings Cross on the 17th January.

What will happen at PaperCamp?
Well, as it's a '___Camp'-type thing, that's largely up to you... we'll have a room, and a grid of timeslots for you to fill with talks, activities, discussions of your making. However, to frame that a little, the original thought behind PaperCamp was 'hacking paper and it's new possibiities'. We do have one thing organised - a 'keynote' if you like from Aaron Straup Cope from a little site called Flickr and more importantly,

Whether that's looking at material possibilities of paper itself, connecting paper to the internet and vice-versa with things like 2d-barcodes, RFIDs or exotic things like printing with conductive inks... it's about the fact that paper hasn't gone away in the digital age - it's become more useful, more abundant and in some cases gone and got itself bionic superpowers...

As I say - it's up to you what you want to make of it, please bring to the event half-formed thoughts, ideas, projects you've done or anything you would like get others exposed to, or even hacking on. These can take the form of straight-forward talks, or, things you want other people's brains and hands to help with... please bring them... along with Paper, pens, RFIDs, soldering irons, Heidelberg Lithos or any other equipment or materials you will need. We will just provide chairs, tables and a projector...
Even just reading that description, my mind is officially blown – and that's nothing compared to reading Jeremy Keith's liveblogging of the event.


Upgrades, part 2.

Continuing in the same vein as before, I've now managed to the get Movable Type's new Facebook Connect plugin up and running on this blog. If you've wanted to comment on something here but have been deterred in the past, give this a shot and see if it works for you!

I've also installed Shaun "sIFR" Inman's excellent Mint stats tracking software, which is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now. The main catalyst for this was the lack of a top-notch iPhone app for Google Analytics, while Mint has a really excellent iPhone pepper that's now sitting comfortably on the home screen of my phone. $30 for Mint is $30 more than Google Analytics, but now that I've got it up and running, I can honestly say the plug-in architecture, the iPhone pepper, and the sheer beauty of the interface make Mint definitely worth it.



One of this site's unspoken functions is to serve as a testing ground for new technologies that I intend to add to other sites for MIT and for my consulting clients. This morning is a great example of that: first I added a custom Google search to my site (now accessible at and then, having ironed out the kinks there, added one to the GAMBIT site at That's the tip of the iceberg, though – last night I also upgraded my own Movable Type Pro install to 4.23 so that I can tinker with things like Action Streams, Facebook-enabled commenting and Twitter notifications. Philip, if you're reading this, consider it a preview of things to come! :)


Would Baudelaire hate the Kindle?

I love this new post over at HarperCollins' HarperStudio blog: Would Charles Baudelaire hate the Kindle? As they quote the man himself:

"As the photographic industry was the refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but had also the air of a vengeance. I do not believe, or at least I do not wish to believe, in the absolute success of such a brutish conspiracy, in which, as in all others, one finds both fools and knaves; but I am convinced that the ill-applied developments of photography, like all other purely material developments of progress, have contrib uted much to the impoverishment of the French artistic genius, which is already so scarce....Poetry and progress are like two ambitious men who hate one another with an instinctive hatred, and when they meet upon the same road, one of them has to give place. If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally."
[On Photography, from the salon on 1859]

I'd argue that Baudelaire would have much less against the Kindle than he would against the Internet or print-on-demand publishing in general, since those are really the revolutions that are more of a 1:1 comparison ("X:publishing as camera:painting" would be a nightmare of a SAT question, come to think of it) but I still appreciate the concept, and I love the line about poetry and progress. I don't agree with it by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean Baudelaire's phrasing isn't absolute gold.

OLPC cutting way back to birth the XO2.
Courtesy of my friend and coworker Andrew comes the news that Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) group is laying off half its staff, slashing salaries and ceasing its support of Sugar, the XO's open-source OS to focus on finishing development of its second-generation XO laptop, the (presumably-titled) XO2.

While I'm definitely troubled to see these steps being taken, I'm also secretly somewhat gladdened. This news is long time coming, and to deploy a very geeky metaphor, it feels sort of like the scene in The Dark Knight when the Batpod is launched out of the ruined Batmobile (although the idea of Negroponte as Bruce Wayne is a little disturbing). With luck, the slimmer, nimbler OLPC group will be able to get the XO2 to market, which I've long maintained is the closest thing to a perfect e-book reader that I've seen yet.

(Update: yes, the XO2, not the X-302. Although that would be awesome.)