Are you ready for the text evolution?

Does someone you know keep a diary with sizzling details you'd just love to share with the world? Or maybe some simple blackmail is your thing. The problem with these fun pursuits has always been: How do you make a copy of the juicy journal when there's no photocopier around and you don't want to break the law by stealing the damn thing?

See also...
... by Sherman M. Fridman
... in the Scope section
... from December 8, 1999

Now, younger siblings, jilted lovers, and just plain folks who have no purpose in life except tormenting others for the sheer hell of it can surreptitiously capture printed text with the stroke of a pen. The QuickLink Pen, actually a text scanner, has a claimed accuracy rate of 97 percent and the ability to store up to 1,000 pages of data, which can then be edited (for instance, you could remove embarrassing references to yourself) and transferred via cable or infrared directly to a PC. The only problem: Pages need to be scanned one line at a time. So unless you have unlimited access to the material, or very fast wrist action -- in which case you're probably doing something else with your time anyway -- stealing the document remains the method of choice for serious pranksters. But this is at least a case where, trust me, small is better. A mere 6" x 1.5" x 1" in size and weighing 3 ounces, the heftiest thing about the pen is its street price of $149.

Those who don't wish to endure the physical activity involved in using the QuickLink Pen can simply download commercially-available information into the Rocket eBook. eBook is a hand-held electronic reader that can store up to the equivalent of 90 novels, 36,000 average paperback pages, or a virtually unlimited supply of cheap, sexually explicit comics. Weighing a mere 22 ounces, it's easily held in one hand, leaving the other free for non-literary pursuits. In fact, the makers of the Rocket eBook claim that their product can be controlled with either a finger or a stylus, either of which can lead to some interesting digital possibilities. Actual books, formatted for the Rocket eBook, can be downloaded from the Web, or you can create your own torrid tomes to impress your less literary or imaginative friends. Either way, it's bound to improve your mind in between watching Jerry Springer reruns, and at $199, it's considerably cheaper than a university education.

Sherman Fridman is a freelance writer and novelist who views contemporary issues from a unique perspective.