Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Friday, May 13, 2011

the future of reading?

Matt Henderson showed his kids Al Gore’s Our Choice:

My kids — 10 and 8 years old — are both avid readers. The absolutely devour every book they can find. And, they are both intimately familiar with the iPad. My 10 year-old, in fact, reads many of her books in the iPad’s Kindle app, and often likes to write summaries of when finished.

I showed them Our Choice, and just observed. They quickly figured out the navigation, and discovered all the interactive features. But… they didn’t read the content. Fascinated, they skipped through the book, hunting for the next interactive element, to see how it works. They didn’t completely watch a single video.

When they finished, I asked them to tell me about the book. They described how they could blow on the screen and see the windmill turn, how they could run their fingers across the interactive map and see colors changing. How they could pinch to open and close images. But they couldn’t recall much of what the book was about. They couldn’t recall the message intended to be communicated in any of the info-graphics (though they could recall, in detail, how they worked.)

Whole story here.


  • It's almost as if the medium was the...something.

  • I have Albert Borgmann on the brain of late and so this seemed an instance of the book succumbing to the device paradigm -- commodious surface, opaque machinery. The book loses its "commanding presence" and becomes a disposable reality.

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