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21 MARCH 2012

The Future of the Book: design speculation

"The Future of the Book is a design exploration of digital reading that seeks to identify new opportunities for readers, publishers, and authors to discover, consume, and connect in different formats.

As more people consume pages in pixels, IDEO designers wondered why we continue to discover and consume the written word through the old analog, page–turning model. We asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?

The team looked at how digital and analog books currently are being read, shared and collected, as well as at trends, business models and consumer behavior within related fields. We identified three distinct opportunities – new narratives, social reading with richer context, and providing tools for critical thinking – and developed a design concept around each one.

The first concept, 'Alice,' turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non–linear and participatory. With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real–world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new aspects of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process.

The second concept, 'Coupland,' makes book discovery a social activity by allowing readers to build shared libraries and hear about additional texts through existing networks. Coupland makes it easy for busy professionals to stay on top of industry must–reads. Businesses can assign book budgets to their employees and build collective libraries through a group–licensing model. Personal recommendations, aggregation of reading patterns, and the ability to follow inspiring individuals and groups help ensure that Coupland users always are tapped into the latest essential content within and outside of the organization.

The third concept, 'Nelson,' connects books to commentary, critique, and contextual information, letting readers explore a topic from multiple perspectives. Nelson reinforces the role of books as carriers of knowledge and insight. Readers can explore polarizing material and see whose word currently has the greatest impact on popular opinion and debate. Layers of connected commentary, news, and fact–checking augment the core book content – providing greater context and encouraging debate and scrutiny.

Each concept features a simple, accessible storytelling format and a particular look and feel. We believe that digital technology creates possibilities, so our solutions truly adapt to the new environment, rather than emulate analog qualities onscreen. For example, we resisted any temptation to move books closer to the bite–sized character of other digital media, because longhand writing encourages immersion (deep reading) and reflection."

(IDEO, 2010)

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TAGS

2010Alice in Wonderlandanalogue bookbooks • collective libraries • connected commentary • consumer behaviour • contextual information • convergence • deep reading • design concept • design exploration • different formats • digital booksdigital mediadigital readingdigital technology • Douglas Coupland • end of printenvisioningformatfuture of the bookgo digitalhybrid formIDEO • inspiring individuals • intertwingularity • longhand writing • look and feelmedia formsmultiple perspectives • must-reads • narrative • new narratives • new opportunitiesnew technologiesnon-linearoff the pagepage-turning model • pages in pixels • personal recommendation • pictures under glass • reader • readersreading experience • reading patterns • rich context • shared libraries • social activity • social readingspeculative designstorystorytellingstorytelling formattechnology convergenceTed Nelsonthe future of the booktrendswritten word

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2012

The importance of metaphor and narrative to our habits of mind

"Fiction – with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions – offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people's thoughts and feelings.

The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real–life social encounters."

(Annie Murphy Paul, 17 March 2012, NYTimes.com)

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TAGS

affirming experience • booksbrainbrain networksbrain science • cause and effect • cognitive mapcomplex problemscomputer simulationdepictiondescription • emotional life • empathetic individuals • empathyexperiencefictional charactersfrustration • great literature • habits of mind • hidden motives • imaginative metaphors • intentions • interacting instances • languageliterature • longings • mental image • mental state • metaphornarrativenarrative fiction • navigate interactions • neurosciencenovelsoff the page • people and their actions • psychologyreaders • reading novels • real thingreal-life • redolent details • rich replica • simulating reality • simulationsmell • social encounters • social interactionsocial interactionssocial lifesocial worldtexture • the complexities of social life • theory of mindthoughts and feelingswatching television • your brain

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 JANUARY 2004

Access to authorship: readers become writers

"With the increasing extension of the press, which kept placing new political; religious, scientific, professional, and local organs before the readers, an increasing number of readers became writers–at first, occasional ones. It began with the daily press opening to its readers space for 'letters to the editor.' And today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere or other comments on his work, grievances, documentary reports, or that sort of thing. Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case. At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a writer. As expert, which he had to become willy–nilly in an extremely specialized work process, even if only in some minor respect, the reader gains access to authorship."
(Walter Benjamin, 1988, p.232)

Benjamin, Walter (1988). 'Illuminations', New York, USA: Random House.

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