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Right of Reply

To Baldur’s post in Lessons in Interactivity.

A quick, Friday morning response:

I certainly said that (and I’ve said as such before) and Baldur’s use of those words are nicely dovetailed into the McLuhan quote, which certainly shows he was paying close attention. Form invokes content; books are books, and apps are not books. TouchPress’ Wasteland, for example (it’s the piece I use most often to explain this to students and researchers) is not a book. It borrows/interprets a great many of the affordances of books, and conventional reading experiences (can’t think of a better phrase than interprets, sorry), but is not a book in the manner in which it is conceived and read.

I’m very interested in how reading behaviours operate across the two platforms, but to call interactive thingumabobs ‘books’ makes the same mistake that mired us in Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation dead-end for fifteen years. In fact, that’s largely why I get a sense of disquiet about calling them books – that’s remediative, reductive thinking and it gets everyone nowhere. Take a look at what’s worked in recent months – Random House’s Story-cuts – short, lovely, well conceived incursions into a digital-led realm, that address the particular branding and design principles that are required to exploit the app store. It’s not remediation, it’s not transfer, it’s transposition, and that’s important.

The other example that shows why apps are not books? Visual Editions Composition no.1 Categorically not a book, and beautifully exploiting the interface, the user-experience and an improvement (not simply an enhancement) on the paper-original.


One comment for “Right of Reply”

  1. you’re right.

    an app is not a book.

    well, it _could_ be one,
    if it consists primarily
    of a reading experience
    with a long commitment.

    but if it does not,
    an app is not a book.

    now. so what? who cares?

    should that app roll over
    and die and cease to exist?

    of course not.

    apps will take over some of
    the roles books used to play.

    because they do them better.

    so what? who cares?

    the object is to do it all
    – the books and the apps –
    in the best way possible…

    i get the impression that
    we agree on this matter…


    Posted by bowerbird | March 30, 2012, 9:32 pm

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