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U.S. Ambassador Sworn in on a Kindle. What Does This Mean for Dead Trees?

Apparently we’ve really arrived in the 21st century. U.S. Ambassador Suzi LeVine was sworn in this morning on a Kindle, an act symbolic of the decline of traditional publishing and the rise of e-books.

What’s the Latest?

Suzi LeVine is headed to Switzerland and Liechtenstein to serve as United States ambassador and focus on the issues of security, development, and prosperity. LeVine hasn’t even left the country and she’s already making headlines, albeit for reasons unrelated to diplomacy:

U.S. ambassador @AmbSuzi becomes the 1st official to take the oath of office on an e-reader

— Mashable (@mashable) June 2, 2014

What's the Big Idea?

Placing your hand on a venerated text when reciting an oath is, in and of itself, a symbolic act. But this particular swearing-in was just dripping with additional symbolism. As Paul Fung at the Washington Post notes, e-books are expected to overtake print and audiobooks by 2017. This could be the ambassador's way of declaring herself a future-minded, 21st century diplomat (though it could also mean that maybe someone just forgot to bring along their pocket Constitution). I suppose we can then ask ourselves the question: is it fair to equate the values of progress with the advancement of technology?

We can also take notice that LeVine was sworn in on Amazon's Kindle rather than Apple's iPad or Barnes and Noble's Nook (the Sierra Mist of e-readers). Are oaths-of-office the next great arena of corporate sponsorship? Just imagine: "Samsung presents the swearing-in of Supreme Court Justice Judith Sheindlin, brought to you by the Galaxy Nexus."

All humor aside, it remains to be seen how much longer print media will survive in the upcoming age of e-book dominance. Although it's doubtful we'll see the 45th president of the United States sworn in on a tablet the morning of January 20, 2017, who's to say the 60th president won't "So help me God" on a Lenovo ThinkPad?

One last thing: it remains to be seen whether pressure from militant librarians will force LeVine to make the 3 hour drive to Mainz, Germany and apologize for her affronts to Johannes Gutenberg.

Read More at the Washington Post

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