This Saturday, April 3, 2010, millions of Apple’s tablet computers – iPads – will begin their journey into the hands of people all over the world. This new technology, a fusion of the Kindle and iPod touch, promises to offer the world of print media a second life.
“…for the past year, I’ve been pushing the theory that the Age of Tablets will give print media one last bite at the apple.”
No pun intended.
In the previous few posts, this blog described a movement towards a reading experience (and, in that particular case, the press release) that is supplemented and improved through other media. Text remains important, but new devices enable technologically aware text that links to video and sound. It will not only be press releases that change — magazines and newspapers of the future will undoubtedly look very different.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, discusses the issue of content (and why people may actually pay for it), “Anytime I want I can go on the Web to read the same content for free, but it’s not really about that. It’s about the package and delivery.” A good package and good delivery adds value.
In the case of the iPad, the package and delivery is many layered; the device itself is a method of packaging and delivering content, but so is the platform each print outlet designs and sells for use on the iPad. These new platforms will leverage curated content and combine text with relevant videos or Web links.
Kurt Andersen, a novelist and public radio host, distinguishes between magazine content on an iPad and more general Web content, “Unlike the computer screen, a tablet might be able to create for the reader more of a sense that you are in this carefully constructed closed garden; when you’re online you feel like you’re always just a click away into the great sea of media.”
Human beings thrive on boundaries, and many of us would agree that high-quality, selective content offers a more desirable reading experience. Producing what he describes, “a deeper hybrid of audio, video and print,” reading itself will go beyond textual to become a multidisciplinary activity. It will promise more than words on a page and offer opportunities to learn more things, more quickly than ever before. Reading itself isn’t going anywhere; it’s just coming out with its second generation.