Friday, April 14, 2006

Will books be endangered species soon?

Science: who needs books is part of a series of articles on scientific publishing. The one sentence I liked most in this article is: "Would Darwin need a publisher now? Would he even write a book?" I can't help musing, would Darwin just put up a blog?

Yesterday, a brilliant young man, Atif E Gulab, entered my office. He is currently a freshman in SEAS at Columbia. He said he would like to do a summer independent research project that launches an on-line magazine on statistics/statistics education for high school students and college non-majors. He has started a blog on that.

During our discussion, one topic came up: why online? The answer is really not that hard to think. There are so many things that an online magazine can carry whereas the regular ones can't, such as tons of pictures, stream-video interviews, music pieces, comments, etc.

I showed Atif the projects my W1111 students last semester accomplished using Wiki. Several projects employed multimedia forms in their data collections. The project reports are only interesting when you can really see and hear the pictures they used and the music they played to their survey respondents and experiment subjects. This is just like the illustrated version of the Da Vinci Code using pictures of all the discussed symbols and artworks makes the reading of the book so much more interesting. I bet Dan Brown would not want to write a controversy story on a musician since he does not get to show the readers the actual music in a printed book.

Atif said maybe in 10 years, no one will read a real book any more. Well. I don't think so. I love books. Love holding them in my hands. Atif does not seem to be attached to actual printed books at all. Maybe after the passing of my generation, the species of books might really get endangered.

1 comment:

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Yes internet has really revolutionized consumer electronics down to the simplest book reader. But should we just dump books?