The Future of the Book

I am writing about a talk given by Umberto Eco in 1994, entitled the Future of the Book, which you can read at  http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_future_of_book.html

We certainly do know enough about books (ceci) but less about books and computers (cela) together.  Books improve what we know, enhance our imagination and open the possibilities for more creative thought.  Computers organize and digitize our knowledge system within an instantaneous and massive virtual  space of communication. How would literacy change on the internet ?  Will cela tue ceci? Can computers really kill the way we enjoy our books ?

Since the time of Plato, there has been a concern  in Phaedrus, for example, that external devices will be used to dull the memory and thinking of the human mind. In Plato’s Phaedrus,  the alphabet and its extensions of words  frame and compartmentalize what we know on a semiotic level to make sense of the world, however there is a fear that with Hermes’ new invention, memory would be lost. This was said about writing. This concern had also extended today to adding animation and interactivity to our books. Many have wondered that if writers do not leave the spcace in between the lines to their imagination, whether they  would still enjoy the same freedom to think about what they are reading freely to the same extent ?

Computers allow authors to self publish. This means that they can create books using computer software. They also allow books to be circulted on a point to mass level that has nevel been so fast.  Books, in themselves, will always be written, printed and circulated better becasue of the computer… Some things are being replaced more and more by computers such as newspapers to keep down the cost and  increase the circulation. I welcome this change because it decreases our carbon footprint and the medium allows more interactive experiences such as videos and animated pictures.

We have yet to see what  three videos running together in an advertisement does to the way we interpret  what we are areading ?

Books, for the most part, are mostly being downloaded from one form of technology to another (an ipad to an iphone)Provided the ebook looks like a book inside, not much will change.  The music and videos may add more information  on another level, just the way pictures do.  They may frame the writing to a certain extent as well.  If you have a video beside a page with writing, they would both interact together so that  the meaning of both pages affect one another,  as if the video were a picture. In a sense, I guess ebooks would just ask us to relate textx with sound, movement and animation, instead of just pictures. 

The way we reflect and read our information from a book is still as important today as ever. An interactive ebook would just be a new way of reading using more of our senses.

However, when a reader begins to have unlimited hypertextual  and inteactive experiences with the ebook, then literacy may have new components related to the medium of the internet . This depends completely on the creator/s of the book. Computer definitely brings a digital aspect to the story. This means that it adds a code to the formula. Whether this code can be used to enhance the memory and imagination of the user, adding dance, animation, music or video,  is up to the creator of the book . Some ebooks will be descriptive while others will allow the world to open with critical thinking and education. Furthermore, the medium of the internet allowws for the possibility of an exchange of information between many different readers – the author would just need to create this space in the webpage where they have their book. As it is now, many software companies seem to have the technology to display interactive ebooks – but not many are out yet.

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