Justin Taylor|12:00 pm CT

The New Possibilities in Book Publishing and the Implications of New Media

Here’s an amateur video of a professional video presentation by John Makinson (CEO of Penguin Books) on what (some) books could soon look like on the iPad platform:

In their book Laws of Media: The New Science Marshall and Eric McLuhan explained that new technologies have varying effects: somethings are enhanced or become more prominent, other things become obsolete or less prominent, some things are retrieved or recovered, and sometimes there is a reversal or return to older patterns when a technology is pushed too far.

So with any new technology, as John Dyer has helpfully laid out, you can ask the following questions (with mobile phones given as John’s example answers):

  • EnhancementWhat natural function or older medium does the new medium amplify or intensify?
    The mobile phone amplifies the human voice and our ability to communicate. It also extends the range of older land lines.
  • Obsolescence: What natural function or older medium does the new medium drive out of prominence? The mobile phone makes land lines less important, but also other less instantaneous forms of communication like letter writing.
  • Retrieval: What older medium or practices are recovered by the new medium?
    The mobile phone restores oral communication for those separated by physical distances who used to only be able to communicate via letters.
  • Reversal: What happens when the medium is overused or pushed to its limits?
    When overused, the mobile phone disconnects and isolates people. Users can also annoy those around them and no be truly present with those in their midst.

It might be worth trying to answer these questions on your own with regard to enhanced e-Books published on the iPad.

Dyer suggests you can even view technology through the lens of the biblical storyline:

  • Reflection: (Creation) How does this technology display the imago dei (Gen 1:26-27)? How does it help accomplish the creation mandate (Gen 1:28; 2:15)?
  • Rebellion: (Fall) How does this technology attempt to live apart from dependence on God (Gen 4:17)?
  • Redemption: What effects of the Fall can this technology help overcome (Gen 3:7; 1 Tim 5:23)?
  • Restoration: What unintended consequences or shortcomings does this technology bring? Do these make us long for Christ to return and restore all things?

Much food for thought.

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