May 17th, 2010 | alxjrvs
I’m beginning to think traditional print may suffer from a case of poor design. Text itself has evolved with the medium that represents it, and with each evolution came an upgrade to the user interface. Digital text gives us another powerful evolution (hyper-linking, mass storage, and perfect indexing for starters) and with it should be a sufficiently powerful upgrade to the user interface, one that no one has nailed down yet.
The benefits of digital text are obvious. Less money spent on physical books, less backs broken by those same books. Less obvious, are the the innovations which truly digital texts could allow. The current crop of e-readers are dropping the ball when it comes to electronic text. In my eyes, the strangest of the lot is the near-ubiquitous iPad; beyond arguments regarding the application of purchasing books through Apple, the fact that they ask you to physically turn the pages of their digital books strikes me as fundamentally wrong (I understand that there is a mass-market to consider, but still).
My biggest issue with e-readers is not what they do wrong, but what they do not do. There is so much in the way of analysis, collaboration, class participation, and more that could be done with an digital text reader. What we need is a piece of software that runs on multiple devices, a standard for digital texts across platforms, and a new series of terms to deal with a post-paper work (for instance, how does one cite a selection when the text no longer uses pages?). These are all issues I feel THATCamp is capable of discussing, and even attempting to correct.