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Thursday, January 18, 2007
Life on the screen
Last week I wrote here about the Institute for the Future of the Book, which has embarked on an ambitious project to create a user-annotatable and -annotated version of the Iraq Study Group Report. Now the folks who blog for the Institute are inspired by a computer science presentation available online involving multi-point touch screens.
Doesn't sound that exciting, but have a look at the video embedded in their post. It's a long demonstration, but at several points it has members of the audience going clear beyond the "ooh" stage into fits of laughter at how cool this toy is. (The guy doing the demonstrating also slays the geeks with a boast that they should have one of these screens in the Google lobby.)
The bloggers see this as a gateway application to changing the nature of the way we publish and read the printed word:
And that brings me around to the real reason the touchscreen zooming interface is the key to the next generation of 'books.' It allows users to move into 3D networked space easily and fluently and it gets us beyond the linearity that is the hallmark and the limitation of the paper book. To come into its own, the networked book is going to require three-dimensional visualizations for both content and navigation.