Reading in a Whole New Way

Kevin Kelly, an author I’ve long enjoyed reading (see Out of Control, a book that had a profound impact on my thinking about technology back in the mid-90’s) has written an interesting piece on the future of reading for Smithsonian’s 40th anniversary issue titled Reading in a Whole New Way. He makes a lot of very interesting and, I think, prescient points. He talks about the ubiquity of screens and that they will soon be watching us in turn. He says that reading will become a much more physical activity much like Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report. These days, I read more and more on my iPhone using the Amazon Kindle app, iBooks, GoodReader, Stanza, and the Borders eBooks App. I have been having fun locating free books in pdf or epub format and getting them onto my iPhone to read. I am, for all intents and purposes, an advocate for eReaders. That said, I do not believe that the physical book is going to go away anytime soon. There is something about the feel and smell of a real book, the permanence of the physical object, and the simple fact that there are just some places you can’t or at least don’t want to bring a book (the beach comes to mind). As this next generation grows up into the digital world we inhabit and as their kids grows up, this will certainly shift more and more to screens from paper but I don’t think we’ll see the paper book go away. Not within my lifetime anyway. Perhaps when the technology is advanced enough, we’ll see objects that look and feel just like real books (pages and all) but that display digital content beautifully. Whatever your thoughts, Kelly’s article is a great read (especially online, using the new “Reader” capability of the latest Safari.) (Found via The Technium)