Networked Literacy and the Next-Generation Book

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 23, 2011

[Meet Nelson, Coupland, and Alice — the faces of tomorrow’s book. Watch global design and innovation consultancy IDEO’s vision for the future of the book. What new experiences might be created by linking diverse discussions, what additional value could be created by connected readers to one another, and what innovative ways we might use to tell our favorite stories and build community around books? ]

So I pulled this video and the one below from the wordpress blog Preprint (see blogroll for link) and I found it to be fascinating how contextualized and informative the experience of reading a book could be.  The Nelson software allows readers to see different perspectives on what they are reading, and locate referential materials that can assist their understandings of critical arguments, see what kinds of discussions are being spawned by a particular book, and share critical insights.  This is somewhat revolutionary in how it can network the literacy experience of individuals, and enabling people to gain greater critical insight at a time when decentralized publishing means a greater questioning of reputability of sources.

The Coupland software takes the idea of Networking to the next level by providing statistics as to whom is reading what, where, and for what purpose.  This allows other readers to see what is driving the inspirations in their own workplace or at other organizations, creating a greatly enhanced capacity for collaboration and more meaningful, and referentially complex, interactions.  I think the only unfortunate part about these two interactive softwares is that they seem to only be available for ebooks, and not for online sources and articles in general.  These tools will be crucial in a multiliterate age, and greatly assist students to develop critical thinking capabilities regarding online materials.

Finally, the Alice software threatens the possibility that children will ever be entertained again by a good old fashioned book.  This is similar this TED-talk video about the next-generation of digital books from Push Pop Press.

It is easy to see the HUGE potential here to captivate children and get them involved in literacy in new and innovative ways.  It can also assist in presenting information about a particular subject in multiple ways, maximizing the chances of it being absorbed by the student.  However, these types of books are so interactive I cannot decide whether or not you have to think more or less when you are reading them.  The information is all there, but you can move from one thing to another so fast that I question how much is absorbed and thought about, and how much results in some quick stimulation before one sets off for the next cool graphic or interactive movie.  Furthermore, the actual text part of some aspects of these books seems secondary; meaning that it seems like you can get the important information by just ‘interacting’ without having to read anything that is written carefully or in-depth.  It most likely depends on the way in which they are used and how the students are taught/encouraged to use them. But jeez, will reading a simple 350 page novel with no pictures ever been sufficiently stimulating ever again???


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