Paper-Trained Dinosaurs

February 18, 2008
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This time Keith Brophy has gone too far.

"Books are on their way out. …They're going to be in the category of 45 rpm records," he claims.

Paper mills are going to go away, he says.

Well! No more paper — indeed! Who does he think he is?

In fact, Brophy is co-owner of software technology provider NuSoft Solutions. Each year he gives a lively speech in Grand Rapids on the latest tech trends. This year, Tech Trends 2008 will be Wednesday evening, starting at 5:45 p.m. at DeVos Center. (He is also quoted in an article on page B2 talking about new technology related to homeland security issues.)

Brophy likes to get people thinking about high tech and the future. Sometimes he riles them up a little in the process.

A couple of years ago at one of his Tech Trends events, he said he could see the day when micro chips would be inserted under a person's skin, for various reasons such as, say, tracking Alzheimer's patients, or being able to pinpoint the location of a kidnap victim.

That chips-in-people idea "raised eyebrows," he said.

At a Tech Trends event a year or two later, he was able to report back to his audience that yes, indeed, a club in Spain had inserted micro chips under its members skin so they could enter the locked door of the clubhouse without an attendant at the door.

This year, one of the topics he is going to rhapsodize about is the Amazon Kindle. (No, he doesn't have any business connections with Amazon.)

If you've been living in a cave, you haven't heard about the Kindle. It is Amazon.com's new "wireless reading device," which went on sale in November ($400) and sold out within five hours. (They're having many more made right now.)

Kindel is similar to a little wireless laptop computer dedicated solely to downloading books from Amazon's vast online collection. They call the screen "e-paper" because it does not need to be illuminated or back-lit or something, according to Brophy. He was pretty excited about it.

Brophy said Kindel is "slightly smaller than an Etch-a-Sketch, and skinnier, too." (Remember that early "high-tech" toy from the 1960s? Hey, how old is Brophy, anyway?)

Paper for reading on, he concludes, is on the way out. Warning: Don’t have this debate with a librarian and expect to come out on top.

"Even as an avid book lover, books are on their way out and within the space of a few short years, they're going to be in the category of 45 rpm records," Brophy said.

"The publishing industry should be looking ahead and figuring out how they can transform their business to play in this game," he said.

"Paper mills … will be displaced," he said, but with the energy costs and impact on the environment, that "may not be a bad thing for society," said Brophy.

He'll be talking about societal changes due to technology so it should be interesting.

Somebody be sure to remind Keith we will always have a need for books and newspapers on paper. Or is he just going to roll up his Kindle and swat the dog with it?

  • Stand back, world. The new coolness of downtown Muskegon will soon be coming at you via YouTube.

Muskegon Main Street and the Muskegon Film Festival just announced the Downtown Muskegon Clippies, a contest now open to the creative types among us who like to make little videos and put them on the YouTube website.

Muskegon Main Street (part of the Muskegon Area First economic development corporation) and the Muskegon Film Fest hope to harness that new creativity to help show off the new Downtown Muskegon.

“Downtown Muskegon is going through a transformation and we feel there are some neat stories that could be told through video,” said Dan Rinsema-Sybenga of Muskegon Main Street.

Now through June 5, any person, from professional film makers like Steven Spielberg to grade school amateurs, can submit their own short homemade video clips about the new downtown Muskegon for a chance to win a prize package valued at over $300. The rules are simple: videos must be between 60 and 180 seconds and should depict some aspect of downtown Muskegon coolness. (For more specifics, go online to www.downtownmuskegon.org.)

After June 5, Muskegon Main Street will post the best of the clips on YouTube, and the public will be invited to rate them. The video with the highest public ranking will be declared the winner, and the winner will be announced at the Taste of Muskegon Awards Ceremony on June 22.

Stay tuned.

  • When Kent County Commission Chairman Roger Morgan arrived at the podium last week and said, “This is my last county update,” he was instantly greeted with a stirring round of applause from his peers on the board and his staffers in the audience.

Morgan, who is in his third and final year of chairing the commission, didn’t appear to be overly shaken by the warm reception he was given as he calmly said in response, “Please hold your applause until I’m finished.” But before he actually did get started Morgan was reported to have muttered, “Boy, this is a tough crowd.”

After Morgan listed a number of glowing accomplishments the county achieved last year, which included acquiring 114 vital acres for Millennium Park and getting the wheels rolling on a new $27 million Human Services complex in Grand Rapids, he turned toward county corporate counsel Sherry Batzer and said, “I appreciate Sherry Batzer more and more for keeping me out of trouble.” He paused and added, “She has had a very busy year.”

  • County Commissioner Paul Mayhue said he learned last week that minority-owned subcontractors have picked-up a lot of construction work in the private sector, even though those companies aren’t doing anywhere as well with publicly-funded building projects.

“In the private sector, their activity is way up,” said Mayhue.

  • Lost the resulting brouhaha following GR City Manager Kurt Kimball’s hiring of a new police chief and deputy chief was the news that Kimball also named Jeff Edmonds the city’s 2007 employee of the year. Edmunds works at the Coldbrook water facility and he was credited with keeping the water flowing for 3,500 customers last year when a really big pipe broke.

“Jeff is on top of every situation that comes along,” said Kimball before he gave Edmonds a gold watch (actually only a gold-plated watch due to budget problems) and a plaque commemorating him as the city’s best for all of last year. When Kimball asked Edmonds if he wanted to say a few words, he responded with just one, “Nah.”

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