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Paperless doesn’t mean printless . . .
If we aren’t going to print on as much paper based media, does that mean we aren’t going to use print to communicate? Of course not!
A recent Mashable article described a company in New York that is exploring technology to put print media into the hands of electronic readers in exciting, interactive ways. ScrollMotion is the name of the company, and they are working with content developers to give readers an intuitive and exciting way to “read” electronically. One example of their implementation is an iPad edition of Esquire magazine. I don’t even have an iPad and I am fascinated by what this all means.
Reading a sheet of paper is inbred in all of us — the words sit there and we scan over them with our eyes. If we forget something and want to return to it we can flip back a page or two and find what we are looking for. When we touch the sheet of paper nothing happens to the words.
In a digital reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) the reader uses fingers to “turn” the page which basically repaints the screen with the next page of words. Convenient for carrying libraries of information, and more or less instantly available, these are growing in popularity.
The next Big Thing is interactivity with the words and pages themselves. ScrollMotion provides ways for the written content to flow from page to page and back again, more like flipping the paper pages of a book or magazine. Words on a page can be “hot”, and touching the word itself will bring up a picture, footnote, or definition. Sidebars can take you from article to article in a magazine, stroking the page up or down can move you through the chapters of a book. This is a completely different way to “read” — no longer from front to back cover but from point to point in the material.
The experience of reading itself is still the same process, but content providers will have more tools to take the reader into the material, add to the experience, influence reader’s to follow additional trains of thought. And it won’t be only on iPads — lightweight digital “papers” will deliver magazine and newspaper content, different forms of eReaders will proliferate with different bells and whistles, long-lived rechargeable batteries will less the energy load needed to deliver print content to masses of readers.
Content managers will alter their writing strategies to take advantage of this technology. Prose and fiction writers will self-publish work even more easily than today. While it will be interesting to watch this phenomenon, one thing is certain — we will still be reading.