Interesting group of essay on digital reading The thing I loved and didn't expect was David Gelernter's essay on The Book Made Better:
All reading is not migrating to computer screens. So long as books are cheap, tough, easy to “read” from outside (What kind of book is this? How long is it? Is this the one I was reading last week? Let’s flip to the pictures), easy to mark up, rated for safe operation from beaches to polar wastes and — above all — beautiful, they will remain the best of all word-delivery vehicles.
I assume that technology will soon start moving in the natural direction: integrating chips into books, not vice versa. I might like to make a book beep when I can’t find it, search its text online, download updates and keep an eye on reviews and discussion. This would all be easily handled by electronics worked into the binding. Such upgraded books acquire some of the bad traits of computer text — but at least, if the circuitry breaks or the battery runs out, I’ve still got a book.
MT for objects :) Now that would be interesting. When I was at Voyager we had a summer institute with ITP where a few academics came into to work on projects. One of them was for Ulysses and the thing I remember from being around it was that it takes five or six companion books to really read it. If these were built into the binding, or a thin digital companion which knew what book you were reading and assembled things like a map, search, timeline, comments etc. You could still read the book while taking advantage of the web and its resources. Of course nothing really stops you from reading next to your laptop and doing this too but right now we seem to be having either/or debates.