The Technium

Readers of the Screen

I was in New York City recently to attend, and also speak at, the TOC conference, which stands for Tools of Change, but might be better thought of as the Future of the Ebook Conference. I learned a lot about the mechanics of ebook publishing, not hard since I knew very little. Screen publishing is the major focus of my attention this year.

In my own talk I made 6 points. I suggested we are adopting 6 verbs, or 6 directions of change in the book world. They are:

1) Screening — ubiquitous screens everywhere, and all things on every screen. We are becoming people of the screen

2) Interacting — we’ll interact with books with gestures, voices, hands, and in non-linear modes

3) Sharing — reading will become an increasing social activity, and books will weave together into a shared library

4) Accessing — shifting from owning books to having instant, constant access to books

5) Flowing — moving away from static, fixed pages to streams and flows, as in Twitter, RSS feeds, Facebook walls, Netflix, lifeblogs.

6) Generating — value will come from uncopyable attributes generated around books instead of in copies of books.

You can watch the full 30-minute talk here;

The conference took place just a few blocks from Times Square, a place I had not visited in years. When I was growling up in Jersey in the 1960s, Times Square had huge garish billboards, but no screens. Now of course, it is an immersive spectacle, a inhabitable video game, a neon wonder, a destination art work. Even the outlandish video displays in Hong Kong and Tokyo begin to pale beside this VR experience.


Now imagine every building on every city block in every town covered in dirt cheap organic LED lights, and every flat surface coated with flickering text. This is the future of books!


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