Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Not Just a Book...

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 29, 1998

Posted to HotWired 29 June 98

Of course, the purpose of a PAD would not be merely to emulate a book... what would be the point? Reading book-like text should be only one of the things you could do with a PAD. As I suggested in an earlier post, you should be able to read a book, watch the hockey game, play a game of DOOM, or whatever.

Even straight reading should be more multi-dimensional than the plain book. Books are linear. Books are non-interactive. At the very least, you should be able to call pop-up windows which give you maps, illustrations, glossaries, etc. or, more interestingly, multi-threaded books offering different characters' points of view as the narrative progresses.

Actually, I predict a significant market and / or job opportunities for the reworking of classics into hypermedia format.

Also, we don't really want the PAD to be just a super-light notebook computer with the usual attachments, as Art seems to be suggesting. For example: why on earth would we want to attach a mouse? You can't use a mouse in bed.

Better would be a small device that clips onto your fingertip. Move your finger across the screen to move the pointer, tap gently on the screen to 'click'. For more interactive applications, such as games, provide lightweight VR gloves.

In the more distant future, PADs will just 'know' where your hand is, 'know' where your pointing finger is, and move the pointer accordingly.

And get rid of the keyboard. Replace it with voice activated input. Or for those who really want to type (perhaps for reasons of privacy), enable a touch-sensitive keyboard window on the screen.

The PAD could have a cover, but why should it? PADs will will be durable enough to allow you to use them in the rain. A cover would serve no purpose, and just be a part than can break off. Eventually, the PAD will be nothing more than a single sheet of plastic, like those clocks. One entire side of the PAD would be nothing but screen. You will be able to do everything on that screen or by voice.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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