What is a book? Typically, when one thinks of the physical structure of a book, it is a stack of pages fixed on one edge and then bound to a cover. It is like a box waiting to be opened. It induces wonder as to what is inside and how the contents can change the way we see the world or even ourselves.
It is the relationship between the reader, the author or authors, and the medium which allows for insight into the author’s mind, the reader’s mind and the object that brings the two together. The word object seems a simple designation for something that can bring about such power and electricity.
Although it is up to the creator of a piece of work to try to convey some kind of a message or story or what have you, it is essentially the reader that is in charge of the interpretation of a work. Even with the common printed book in a specific arrangement with words comprising sentences, comprising paragraphs, with a finite beginning and end.
it is the reader that interprets the meaning of that work. Two individuals can read the same book and come up with two different interpretations of its meaning. Readers can also create their own meaning using recombinant structures such as seen in one hundred thousand billion poems.
Although the fundamental aspect of the work is the author’s creation, it is up to the reader to create poems that are meaningful to them. But meaning does not need to come from words on a page, it can come from a book that has no words.
The reader can transform the work in a number of ways that reflect their uniqueness as an individual and the way in which they choose to represent that through the manipulation of another’s world. This is not to discredit the author in a work because it is an author’s imagination, talent, and genius which permits this interplay among readers and what they are reading and/or visualizing.
An author gives a piece of themselves to the world when they produce and disseminate something. This is seen in ABC-We Print Anything-In the Cards. This brings about the medium for dissemination. Many moons ago, readers were able to interact with printed books, but now we have reached an age in which interactions with books have transcended the boundaries of what we traditionally assumed would always be bounded.
The digital age has given us the ability to interact with books like never before adding sound and various other types of media to enhance our experience with the work. It has also allowed us to attempt to preserve the printed book by combining it with technology.
Augmented Reality is the new trend for some book readers, mainly children. It provides a different and, right now, exciting way to engage younger people in educational topics such as human anatomy and paleontology which might not seem so interesting at a young age.
Although this art project seems fun, are we alienating older generations that find things like augmented reality too complex and distracting. When you go to a non-academic library (yes, they do still exist) who do you see in there? Older people. Why?
So, as exciting as all of this seems, what are we losing by selling our souls to technology? I say – a piece of history. One day a library in a building will become a historic site to be studied by archaeologists and the touch and feel of a book will be something long forgotten.
Kind of like 8 tracks, beepers, and vinyl. Except vinyl actually did make a comeback. Maybe printed books will “make a comeback” one day, but we have to think about why these types of materials fell out of favor in the first place.
Maybe the trend died and people just like new things, maybe moguls like google just needed data to fuel their futuristic world of artificial intelligence and we fell for it hook line and sinker. I often wonder what today would look like if google never existed.