I recently realised that I spend at least a quarter of each waking day reading; journals, magazines and newspapers… most of which have gone digital. Then there are e-mail messages, blogs, messages on a dozen or so on-line forums, manuscripts and other documents.
So much content, so little time.
I have a library, which is fairly large, not too dusty or musty, which is full of books and documents that date from ages past to the present, all of which have been carefully indexed and organised so I can find what I want… and yet most of the time they’re not where they were supposed to be.
Of course, many of them now also reside in a digital version of that same ‘library’… which is many hundreds of gigabytes worth of manuscripts, e-Books, PDF formatted documents, soundtracks and albums full of digital images, audio files, video files and a ‘digital jukebox’ loaded with copies of my CD’s and DVD’s.
All of this content resides on several different systems, all of which are carefully and religiously backed up across several redundant raid arrays and archived on several different back-up media.
… And nearly all of which I can access nearly instantly from almost anywhere on or near this large sphere we call Earth as long as I have a cellular telephone, PDA, computer or some other form of digital reader.
In a recent article on eBooks in the Guardian Robert McCrum led his column with this interesting bit…
"The experience of reading a sustained piece of prose is not going to be fundamentally altered by a new delivery system."
He’s right. Whether it is in printed with ink on paper, or digitally on electronic paper, or formatted for a book reader, or even done in audio format, the experience of reading will not be fundamentally altered… because it requires the human mind, with it’s ability to imagine, to make the experience of those words come alive.
Will alternate multimedia forms of books change the experience?
Not appreciably, or at least I hope not.