Penguins.mooh.org

2010

When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his US letter-sized iPad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the URLs of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad. Switching to the unit's headline aggregator, he would hold the front page while he quickly scrolled the headlines and noted the items that interested him.

Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the page thumbnail would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he had finished, he would pinch zoom back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

Floyd sometimes wondered if the iPad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word "newspaper," of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the Internet.

It was hard to imagine how the system could be improved or made more convenient. But sooner or later, Floyd guessed, it would pass away, to be replaced by something as unimaginable as the iPad itself would have been to Caxton or Gutenberg.

Edited from "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Arthur C Clarke, original excerpt

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