Clint Lalonde offered up a great observation yesterday that I'd like to explore. What are your thoughts? Is the metaphor of book not appropriate for ePublications? Should we be looking for new ways to express the essential features of enriched reading environments?
Clint said: "I was thinking this exact thought with the hoopla with the Apple announcement last week. The whole book paradigm seems like such a holdover from another age - like a transitory metaphor. Kind of like the file folder metaphor on a computer. A digital manifistation of an analouge form that really doesn't apply to a web world. Why do we even need to hold on to this whole notion of a "book"? Is there value in having a "book" other than it gives publishers a way to package content?"
And Scott Leslie agreed with Clint (or was it the other way around?): “I am really interested; my personal take is that "eBooks" are a combination of hangover from an older age and marketing ploy by both booksellers and hardware vendors, and that when you take the covers off it just looks like a bit of the web bundled up so it can sell. But maybe I am really missing something that is special to eBooks and eReaders?”
Books were in their day (that is, for thousands of years) the highest of high tech, whether we are
talking about clay tablets, hand-written papyrus scrolls, bound parchment, Indian palm leaves,
Chinese silk paper, or the multitude of printing technologies on an equally wide range of
materials, and whether we are talking about quill pens, styli, and brushes, or cold and hot lead alloy type, photoengraving, and laser printing on demand. Cities are the definition of civilization, but the second
factor in the definition is books, starting when whole civilizations might have only one book (The Iliad, for example, or the Bible.)
Although the physical constraints of bound books, magazines, journals, newspapers, and so on are fast
falling away, there is still demand for the coherent document by a single author or group of authors on a
single subject, with a beginning, middle, and end. Even though computers today cost less than printed
textbooks, and the printed textbooks should, indeed must, indeed will soon go away; even though there
are a hundred thousand Open Education Resources available online; even though much of education
will take place via Google and Wikipedia and Sage and GeoGebra and Sugar and a profusion of
programming languages designed for children; even so the book is not about to disappear. The mix will
simply change, as it has always changed, starting when the oral traditions of prehistory began to be
written down in books, on monuments, and in whatever other forms have come and sometimes gone
These strawman arguments are distractions that do not advance the work that needs to be done. May
we ask instead, what do the children say they need? How can we best provide that? Who is ready to
Useful questions, Edward. Thanks. May I suggest you start a thread to explore what children need and how it can be provided? I'd be interested in hearing what people have to offer.
Thanks, Deirdre. You're a fountain of great information!