Friday, January 25, 2008

Opacity - Nassem Taleb's view on e-Books

 I am an avid book collector ("hoarder") and I agree that it is much better to pick up a book, to read the spine, look at the dust jacket, the writing font, the photos, the colours; before picking it up and physically measuring the quality of its content by weight and visualizing the content inside.

That doesn't stop me from wanting one of those e-ink e-book readers when they come down in price and have a faster page turning rate.

I think the best type of reader will be like the wiimote or iPod, with various dust jackets, book-style holders, and containers to hold the reader, based on the type of book you are reading.  A double-sided reader with two screens and the layout of a book could also mimic the feel of a true book.  This type of experience would be immensely closer to the true experience... though it still won't match the real thing.

Fools do not want to accept that the real thing is better than the electronic. In other words, a text does not simplify a book. A book is so much real than a PDF on my hard disk. The experience of reading something you hold in your hands is more aesthetically rewarding: a book is better looking than a flat screen –it has an extra dimension. But to me, the main advantage is that I remember far, far better what I read in a book. My memory solidifies around hard objects, specific books, parts of my library. The classical mnemotechnic originates with the Greeks method of the loci: it consists in attaching memories to physical objects, a stone in a wall, a specific part of a ceiling, etc. You imagine a building & invest some of the locations with things to remember. In Luria’s account of the synesthete who could remember everything in great detail, there is a striking scene. Sh. [the patient-protagonist], has his memory failing him on a small detail because there is a cloud hiding the object to which the memory was attached.

Source: Opacity

Of course, there is something to a book that contains video, 3D virtual reality, links to web pages, music, and an author's commentary to figure out what exactly they were trying to say.  Some fools can appreciate this kind of book... I'm one of them.

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