Long time no see. I’ve obviously been missing in action on this side of the hemisphere as I prepare for eventual fatherhood. The thought makes me nervous but excited for this new future I’ll have. For one, when people ask me about my kids, I don’t have to say “Some of them are OK, but we’re having a hard time with negative exponents.” I can actually talk about my own at home. Secondly, the child is coming into a world that’s rapidly changing with little regard to whatever the older generations believe about the current world. As many of us relish the “good ol’ days,” whatever that means, the younger generation has already deemed the absurd as possible and the eccentric as normal when it comes to communication in different platforms. To wit, please watch this:
We knew this was bound to happen. We just didn’t know in what capacity. Not only is the baby befuddled by having these media, she prefers the newer medium, possibly because of aesthetics, but also because of the ease of us for the child. She sees the magazine and tries to use the same methods she used for the iPad on the magazine and got immediately frustrated rather than try to learn how the magazine works.
That’s prescient for those that believe that publishing is dead. After ruminating on this some more, I thought about how many purists say, “Back in my day, books mattered. Now all kids want to do is play on their little devices. They’re gonna be an illiterate bunch!” Not so fast. I can’t imagine that, back when the printing press was invented, that purists said, “Back in my day, writing books by hand mattered. Now all kids want to do is get books already printed for them and then they quickly move on to the next one. They’re gonna be an illiterate bunch.” Libraries look cool, but if we could store 1000 books in a fraction of the space, why wouldn’t we?
More importantly, if a portable reading device is more intuitive and more interactive, doesn’t that (at least minimally) connect the reader with the text? People still want to read, but no matter what the medium. Much of it is a matter of relevance and engagement. Conde Nast, for instance, made an excellent move recently by developing app versions of their magazines. Wired Magazine particularly functions MUCH better under the iPad than the print version. Computers lend themselves to a different depth than the print version. Kids get that. Why don’t we?
In no way am I saying we should dump the hard copies of everything we have. My living room has stacks upon stacks of books from all different genres. In a few years, I know that, while I’m sitting next to my son reading a book, he will, too. They’ll both have pages, both tell a story, both have an author, and both be available to us as often as we like. Mine will require both hands. So will his. Mine will require my finger tips to turn the pages. So will his. When I’m done with mine, I can put it back in my library. So will he. It just so happens that his will be thinner than the width of a pencil, and he can get his books much quicker than I can.