Kindle Experiment Falls Flat at Princeton

Last fall, Prince­ton launched a small exper­i­ment, replac­ing tra­di­tion­al text­books with the Kin­dle DX, Ama­zon’s large e‑book read­er. Almost from the begin­ning, the 50 stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pilot pro­gram expressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the devices. Yes­ter­day, a uni­ver­si­ty report offered some more defin­i­tive find­ings. On the upside, stu­dents using the Kin­dle DX end­ed up using far less paper. (Paper con­sump­tion was gen­er­al­ly reduced by 54%.) On the down­side, stu­dents com­plained that the Kin­dle was fun­da­men­tal­ly “ill-suit­ed for class read­ings.” As one stu­dent put it:

I expect­ed it to be a real­ly use­ful tool that would enhance my expe­ri­ence, but it has hin­dered my stud­ies in a lot of dif­fer­ent ways… I wasn’t able to absorb the mate­r­i­al as well as if I had hard copies of the read­ings, and I had to deal with a lot of tech­ni­cal incon­ve­niences just from the design of the Kin­dle.

For more, give the Dai­ly Prince­ton­ian a read.

via @jryoung

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Jonathan Safran Foer on Eating

Note: You should be able to down­load Safran Foer’s new book for free (in audio for­mat) through’s no strings attached offer. Details here.

MIT LED Helicopters: The Early Smart Pixels

Imag­ine a TV dis­play that con­tains mil­lions of “smart pix­els” that can move into dif­fer­ent places and reli­ably cre­ate 3D images? That’s what researchers at an MIT research lab are cur­rent­ly doing. But, in the absence of real smart pix­els, they’re using “remote­ly con­trolled micro-heli­copters that can be chore­o­graphed elec­tron­i­cal­ly to dis­play shapes and images.” (Read more about this in Wired.) The clip above offers a two minute demo of the “Fly­fire” project, show­ing the micro-heli­copters in action…

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The Remixable Textbook

This morn­ing, Macmil­lan announced a new kind of text­book — a remix­able elec­tron­ic text­book that will give pro­fes­sors, accord­ing the New York Times, the abil­i­ty “to reor­ga­nize or delete chap­ters; upload course syl­labus­es, notes, videos, pic­tures and graphs; and per­haps most notably, rewrite or delete indi­vid­ual para­graphs, equa­tions or illus­tra­tions.” Essen­tial­ly, Macmil­lan pro­vides the core text, and then pro­fes­sors get to cus­tomize the book to their lik­ing. This remix­ing is a def­i­nite plus. But what’s even bet­ter? This new line of text­book, dubbed Dynam­ic­Books, will reduce costs for stu­dents, bring­ing a book tra­di­tion­al­ly priced at $150 down to a much san­er $47. Per­fect for the lean years. For more details, read this longer piece in Pub­lish­ers Week­ly.

See our young and grow­ing col­lec­tion of Free Text­books.

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Stanford Online Writing Courses – The Spring Lineup

A quick fyi: Start­ing this morn­ing, Stan­ford Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies opened reg­is­tra­tion for its spring line­up of online writ­ing cours­es. Offered in part­ner­ship with the Stan­ford Cre­ative Writ­ing Pro­gram (one of the most dis­tin­guished writ­ing pro­grams in the coun­try), these online cours­es give begin­ning and advanced writ­ers, no mat­ter where they live, the chance to refine their craft with gift­ed writ­ing instruc­tors. As you will see, there are a cou­ple of cours­es offered in con­junc­tion with The New York Times. The idea here is that you’ll learn writ­ing from a Stan­ford writ­ing instruc­tor and then get your work reviewed by a New York Times book critic/writer. Quite a perk. And the cours­es sell out quick­ly. For more infor­ma­tion, click here, or sep­a­rate­ly check out the FAQ and the tes­ti­mo­ni­als.

Caveat emp­tor: These class­es are not free, and I helped set them up. So while I whole­heart­ed­ly believe in these cours­es, you can take my views with a grain of salt.

Loudon Wainwright III Sings “The Krugman Blues”

Loudon Wain­wright III has released a new album, Songs for the New Depres­sion, that fit­ting­ly fea­tures “The Krug­man Blues,” an homage to the Prince­ton, Nobel Prize-win­ning econ­o­mist, Paul Krug­man, who has doc­u­ment­ed Amer­i­ca’s eco­nom­ic spi­ral in The New York Times. You can watch the Krug­man Blues above, and get the full album at Wain­wright’s web site.

via The New York­er

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When the Dalai Lama Meets the Neuroscientists

More and more, the Dalai Lama has been devel­op­ing an inter­est in what mod­ern sci­ence has to say about human emo­tion — or, more par­tic­u­lar­ly, how neu­ro­science makes sense of med­i­ta­tion and com­pas­sion. Part­ly as a result, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty has launched The Cen­ter for Com­pas­sion and Altru­ism Research and Edu­ca­tion, which is delv­ing deep­er into these ques­tions. The clip above fea­tures Daniel Gole­man, the best­selling sci­ence jour­nal­ist (Emo­tion­al Intel­li­gence and Destruc­tive Emo­tions), talk­ing about the Dalai Lama’s work on this front. You can find the full con­ver­sa­tion with Gole­man at, a good resource for thought-pro­vok­ing video.

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Classical Bits

A few resources for clas­si­cal music lovers. They come rec­om­mend­ed by Robert B, one of our faith­ful read­ers.

  • offers a series of free audio pro­grams of music from the Renais­sance, Baroque, and Clas­si­cal eras, all per­formed on peri­od instru­ments. This mon­th’s edi­tion focus­es on Mozart’s Salzburg Sym­phonies. You can start lis­ten­ing via mp3 right here.
  • Art of the States fea­tures work by Amer­i­can com­posers that can be oth­er­wise hard to find. To get a quick taste, you can start lis­ten­ing to works by John Cage right here.
  • Final­ly, the Petruc­ci Music Library is the largest and most active site ded­i­cat­ed to offer­ing free, down­load­able clas­si­cal music scores. Want the com­plete score for Bach’s Bran­den­burg Con­cer­tos? You can start here.

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