COVER STORY: Inside the Ebook Test Kitchen
"This was not just a shift, it was a loss in some way, a diminishment in the ability and incentive to become masters of texts."
He brings this up as a way of prefacing what might result from books making a move from, as Marshall McLuhan would say, "cool media" to "hot media." Because inherent in a lot of the discussion about what ebooks will become involves a move from text to rich media.
"The question you have to ask," says Striphas, "is what is gained and what is lost in the transition? There is a camp that says this is only going to make learning better. If you watch any iPad or iBook advertising, that's the conversation they're putting out there. Then you hear from the cranky old dusty printed book people who say, 'This is terrible, it's just giving people what they want, you're not making them use their imagination.'"
There is, of course, always a gain, and always a loss, says Striphas, the author of 2009's "The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism To Control," and who is currently at work on his next book, "Algorithmic Culture."
"If you are able to create these visually rich, sensory-rich environments on an ebook app and you can see and experience the world in ways that are qualitatively richer than you would in a traditional book learning environment, that is a gain where I'm concerned," says Striphas. "But to what extent is that keeping you from exercising your imagination? That's the issue with learning: You have to complicate the conversation. It's not going to be better or worse. It's going to be both." BB