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On the increasingly digital world

May 27, 2011

Last night I ended up in front of the Culture Show on BBC2 while I was running at the gym.

 In between laughing at the mistaken subtitles (incidentally I’d love to know how they create live captioning – does anyone know? I can’t believe that there is a person typing it at the same time…) there were some really fascinating snippets. 

One article was especially interesting – all about the relationship between books and online.  It got me thinking, and not just because the reporter was speaking out against the widely publicised “death of the book” movement (hurrah!).

There was a bit where the presenter focused on how digital technologies are inspiring new kinds of books.

 How they are playing with people’s understanding of the increasingly digital world that we live in.

 There was a video of kids reading this  book by Herve Tullet which, according to the programme, plays on the children’s understanding of touch screen technology – encouraging them to interact with the book in ways they wouldn’t have before.

Part of me thinks this is not such a great example.

Just how far is it different, or influenced by an understanding of touch screen technology?  If you watch a kid reading anything they will touch, and point, and follow words with their fingers.  Many books encourage interaction.  Maybe it’s not an intuitive understanding – maybe it is just the nature of children.

But on the other hand it reminded me that, for these children, things like touch-screens, tablets and interactivity are the only things they have ever known.

I know that the term ‘digital native’ gets bandied around a lot, but there are huge implications to the fact that kids of 4 or 5 assume that everything works like their technology does.

Suddenly there isn’t a single brand or type of product / service that shouldn’t be considering how the next generation will interact with their brand.  That will need to behave in this way or get left behind.

It’s not even just children.  

I mean, we even have iPad applications for cats now.  (I have yet to test this out on Duncan-the-cat, but will report back.  My hunch is that at 14 he’s a digital immigrant and just not down-with-the-kittens when it comes to online gaming).

I know this isn’t new news, but it was a potent reminder of just how much the world is going to change. I do wonder how far it will go though.  Will there ever be a time when we have no need for physical / offline objects and experiences? Very sci-fi!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2011 6:45 pm

    I’m a reader and I remember magical nights with me and my book when I couldn’t wait to turn the page. The past couple of years, I have succumbed to digital books and even audio (librivox-free public domain audio books). This is how I consume my books now. I can go both ways. Your post reminds me of my nieces and nephews who are growing up in the digital world.

    Interactive reading seems like hyper-reading wherein the reader skips around without really absorbing the text as it was meant to be read. I don’t know … feeling kind of sad now for the “old ways.”

    • May 31, 2011 12:42 pm

      I know exactly how you feel – I do feel sad for how fast things are changing, mostly because I’m not sure yet whether the ebook readers are actaully the best possible evolution of the reading experience. There’s a lot to be said for absorbing a text as the author wanted it to be absorbed – with their choice of font and layout and front cover.

      I find it difficult to read from a screen, especially a computer, as there isn’t a way to avoid seeing that it is words on a screen rather than something unfolding in your mind. I know this is what the makers of the Kindle have tried to combat, but for me it still isn’t perfect. Bring back the old fashioned ways I say!

  2. June 13, 2011 11:18 am

    i’d love to share this posting with the readers on my site. thanks for sharing!

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