I love the future. Not the actual future, but the idea of the future. I love watching footage from the old World's Fairs or reading about futurists like Buckminster Fuller, and my favorite part of Disneyworld was Epcot, where I learned that the “future” would be all about maglev. Predicting the future is a tricky thing, what with all the variables that life has, but that didn’t stop us in the past, and it’s not stopping us in the future of today!
But how does this relate to books, you ask? I stumbled across this Gizmodo post the other day that contains video from a company called IDEO. In it, there are three different approaches to the future of the book, all of them interactive and social. Some of what they present is very compelling, and I could see parts of it being implemented—for instance, being able to share books and documents within an organization or group in an easy, visual manner. In fact, the second concept (by far my favorite), “Coupland,” seemed almost organic to me. How convenient! And the first concept, “Nelson,” could be very helpful in an education context, with its ability to show commentary, criticism and the connection between works. The third, “Alice,” is a fun idea, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the future of the “book.” The level of interactive storytelling described here, while compelling, exciting and definitely futuristic, isn’t a linear, immersive reading experience. And with fiction, frankly, I think that’s what a lot of readers want. It’s not that there isn’t a place for this concept (though the costs needed to develop something like this makes me think this kind of storytelling would be tough), but I’m not sure I’d call it a book.
What do you think? I fear I’m suddenly sounding like a technophobe!