In the Islamic community, Ahmad said, dispute centers around the religious sanctity of texts. “From a young age, we’re taught never to place other books above the Quran. The book itself must be revered because it contains the word of God.” But on an iPad, the Quran lies alongside “other digital content such as music and pictures.”

Kaunfer, for instance, believes that the current revolution is not so very different from the one that occurred some seventeen hundred years ago, when the Mishnah (the Jewish code of law), hitherto communicated orally, was first written down. Then, he said, memory took a blow, and it has taken another one with the coming of the handheld device. But this isn’t necessarily bad: “In many ways, pulling text out of one’s pocket is truer to the way Jews experienced text in ancient times, when they pulled it out of their heads.”

"Screen Savers," over at The New Yorker [via Paul]