'Niiu' Custom Newspaper Is PKD's Homeopape

Niiu is a new German newspaper - that's printed news, not online - that will print you a unique paper each morning according to your personal preferences. Philip K. Dick fans have their own name for a custom-printed newspaper; it's a homeopape:

"Simply dial the classification of news that you wish, and in a matter of seconds I'll speedily provide you with a fresh, up-to-the-minute homeopape tailored to your individual requirements; and, let me repeat, at no cost to you!"

Unlike PKD's version, however, the Niiu will be assembled and printed at a central location.

To create your Niiu, you first choose from among a variety of print and Internet news partners of niiu.de, selecting the topics you are interested in and the sources you prefer. The resulting newspaper is printed out overnight and delivered to your mailbox first thing in the morning.

Niiu is the brainchild of two Germans, 27 year-old Hendrik Tiedemann and 23-year-old Wanja Oberhof, who claim it's the first "customized" newspaper in Europe. "Many people prefer to read a newspaper, they like the feel of paper," Oberhof tells TIME. "Print is the most comfortable medium as you can read a newspaper wherever you are, whether you're traveling on a train, or you're putting your feet up at home."

The paper is being rolled out in the German capital on Nov. 16 with a target circulation of 5,000 in the first six months... The daily paper will cost $2.70 (€1.80), but students will pay just $1.80 (€1.20), around the same price as one of Germany's mainstream newspapers.

I don't have a good illustration of Niiu, but I do have this fluffy video description; it's in German, but I'm betting you'll get the gist of it.


(Fluff advertising video for Niiu)

Science fiction fans can look forward to an even more advanced version of the Niiu - namely, personalized news delivered to a sleep instruction machine at your bedside. You see, in the no-nonsense world of Hugo Gernsback's 1911 classic Ralph 124c 41+, sleep time is news time:

The morning "newspapers" were transmitted to the sleeping subscribers by wire at about 5 a.m. The newspaper office, notified by each subscriber what kind of news is desirable, furnished only such news.
(Read more about Gernsback's personalized news)

How much further back can sf readers go with customized news? Personalized news delivery has a surprisingly long history in science fiction. In his 1889 story In the Year 2889, Jules Verne wrote about custom news collections available on phonograph records:

Instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every morning spoken to subscribers, who, from interesting conversations with reporters, statesmen and scientists, learn the news of the day. Furthermore, each subscriber owns a phonograph, and to this instrument he leaves the task of gathering the news whenever he happens not to be in a mood to listen directly himself.
(Read more about Jules Verne's recorded news)

In the meantime, drop over to Niiu.de and specify your futuristic newspaper for real - but only if you live in Berlin. For now. From Time. See also this article on Dick's homeostatic newspaper.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/23/2009)

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