Thursday, July 21, 2011


The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

The smart folks at assembled a few designers to consider "The Future of the Book." As they say in the written intro to the video, "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." They're not discounting the satisfactions to be had from a regular old paper book, just imagining a few directions that the medium might take. 

I'm most intrigued by the concept they call "Coupland," which would allow users to easily share information about and discuss books in their social networks. The "Nelson" concept of providing references, fact-checking, and other "layers" of information could be useful for, say, the Bible, Shakespeare, or various nonfiction texts. I most bristled at the concept of "Alice," which would seem to turn literature into a choose-your-own-adventure story by making the experience more "participatory" and "non-linear." I suspect that such a platform could be used independently to tell fantastic game-like stories, but somehow I imagine it would distract from the experience of reading a book, rather than enhance it. Maybe I'm old-school, but I think the primary form of engagement in reading has less to do with gadgetry and more to do with the imagination.

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