Little Printer

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People I know who aren't even web people are tweeting and posting about this Little Printer thing. I agree, it looks really, really cute. It's hard to design an electronic gadget with that much personality that doesn't look like a five-year-old's My First Sony boombox, but the BERG Cloud people seem to have pulled it off.

But before you get too excited over tiny personal newspapers(!), remember that as cute as it is, Little Printer is basically a receipt printer, and the tiny, individualized artifacts it makes for you will be about as enduring and pleasurable as a credit card slip. Do you want to sit at your kitchen table reading what's basically a super-informational version of a Starbucks receipt? I don't. I'm all for creating a more meaningful, more tactile relationship between ourselves and our technology, but I see this little printer and all I can think is great, more trash to clean out of my pocket at the end of the day. One more thing to buy supplies for, and ultimately one more gadget that'll break (or become obsolete) and need to be replaced by a Little Printer 2 or Little Printer 4S.

For all our nostalgia about the dying printed word, ultimately we have to face the fact that most printed media exist because they were once the cheapest, most scalable way to deliver information to a lot of people, and they're dying now because they've been superseded in that role.

Books and magazines are still viable. Books are still arguably the friendliest, most enjoyable way to read long texts, and magazines are a great medium for design and photography. Both feature crisp text, and paper that feels good between your fingers. It's not just that they're physical objects, it's that they're good objects, that either solve a problem or convey something we haven't quite translated to digital yet. I don't think you can say the same about newsprint. There's not much a rough, inky newspaper can do that the Web can't do a hundred times better.

Is Little Printer really the best or most convenient way to read all the things it wants to print out for us? It sure doesn't seem like it.

Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.