Matt Kirschenbaum, a longtime ebr contributor who actually does some programming and much reading in electronic environments, sought to ground the discussion.
I have a Palm VII; I’ve been following the last couple of posts with interest. I’m intrigued by the idea of handheld electronic publishing, a niche market for Palm-friendly ‘zines, etc.
Reliable connectivity hasn’t been a major issue for me; I’d say it’s 90% or better, which strikes me as pretty reasonable for the first generation of wireless Internet devices. There are a couple of other caveats to be mentioned, though: first, the Palm VII (which actually runs off of Bell South’s wireless network; it doesn’t have an IP address) is US-only in coverage, with lots of rural areas still uncovered. But the real bottleneck is the data itself: the Palm VII is 9600 baud text-only device; it’s not bad for email, but using it to browse Web pages is a lot like using the text-only lynx browser. Note that users pay for the servicenotby their air time, but rather by the amount of data transferred. My current rate is $10/month for 50 KB. That’s fine for sending and receiving a couple of wireless email messages a day, but two or three pieces from ebr would easily max out a user’s allotment for the month. (One can, of course, always opt to pay more for the privilege of receiving more data - but it can get expensive quickly.)
Still, I’m fascinated by the possibilities here; Palm-friendly e-publishing that aspires to something more than Stephen King is a consummation devoutly to be wished.