When a Book Becomes a Non-Book

A little over a week ago, Google patented a new technology related to books; what they call the “Storytelling Device.” You may agree with me that this could be a creative title for books in general, and while books are part of this new patent, the way the actual story is read inside of the book is being taken to another level. A digital, transcendent level.

Basically, this new technological invention would add audio, visual projections, light sources, and the like through an electronic connection with a book. The point? “To provide story enhancement effects that are correlated to the interactive book.”

Give me a break.

I am very curious about our society’s obsession with turning books into “interactive,” digital mediums. Guess what: books are interactive! You know what makes them interactive? Your imagination!

Understandably, the type of technology Google has patented would have entertainment value, and could be beneficial to students in classrooms who perhaps are better visual learners, or for students who are blind or deaf and need different materials than their classmates. And while I can see more benefits for textbooks that can become outdated quickly, what about fiction and storybooks? Will this technology be more cost effective and therefore a better tool than a digital projector or tablets? Should we not look at what we have now rather than look at what we could have?

Maybe my obsession with keeping books the way they are – bound and made of paper – is clouding my judgement. Maybe I’m afraid that if too much technology is used at home, at school, and in early education, that books will fall by the wayside. I feel like an older generation person complaining about how things have changed since “the good old days.”

Maybe, I just need to remember that although approximately 83% of teachers who use technology in their instruction are probably like the teachers I had, or know now, and want to offer their students the best education for the best life, that they explore many types of learning; hardcover and paperback books included. Maybe, while protecting my beloved bound books, I can still be tolerant of new advances for covering a more broad learning spectrum in favor of all children being able to and wanting to learn. You may have guessed my opinion of e-readers by this back and forth, but I suppose I could welcome textbooks and math books, new storybooks and lessons to be projected digitally as I shield my precious printed books from going extinct – which they won’t be any time soon, Google (as long as adult coloring books continue being popular, at least)!



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