The future of the book topic has quietly migrated from a book history zone to the digital humanities. Discussion was once upon a time contextualized in the past and just crossed into the present. Now book centric scholarship has shifted into digital humanities where the entire book transmission system can be better evaluated in a context of narrative and database functions and moved from the present to future projection.
A bit of evidence of the move of the future of the book topic from book studies to digital humanities is the fair completion of book future inclusive course work anthologies from the former and emergent of book relevant anthologies within the latter. An example would be the forthcoming Making, Critique: A New Paradigm for the Humanities, (Hayles and Pressman, University of Minnesota) or the Digital Literary Studies anthology, already published (2007) with Johanna Drucker’s Virtual Codex, from page space to e-space.
This shift also signals another readjustment for book centric and format centered studies. Larger media comparative studies are at work in digital humanist issues. Are we quick enough to follow our own tracks? (quick Father Ong above)
A class of emergent sentient objects includes social robots that engage the persona. These keep us company and engineers are adventuring in diverse roles for these devices. They can also to look to previous models, such as the book, to formulate deeper device and persona interaction.
Any adventuring with the model of the book as a social robot will germinate a reverse curiosity of publishers and cognitive scientists; does the print book act as a virtual companion and if so how can new production technologies accentuate that relation?
I am not referring to on-line complements or pockets for media, but to a physical presence with the conscious self; an actual, virtual companion. It is realized that such a phenomenon was realized in the past, but is muted now. If anything, reading devices have become evermore disposable and detached from the continuity of self.
Perhaps a revival of features as simple as stubbing or bound-in blanks could re-provoke the awakening of the sentient object of the print book. Tactile and haptic qualities can also be accentuated. Most importantly the early flirting with such enhanced books will then intensify to a mutual object/persona phenomenon.
“Books and screen are now bound up with one another whether we like it or not.” Andrew Piper, Book Was There, 2012.
“To grasp fully the dynamic now in play between print forms and digital technologies, we must consider them as mutually participating in the same media ecology.” Katherine Hayles, How We Think, 2012.
Note the keywords used in these expressions pasted together as follows; consider-print/screen-book-mutual-ecology-like it or not-grasp-bound-dynamic-play. The mandate and the risk of intersection, interplay, interdependence has emerged. Didn’t we suspect this? Now the work of book transmission can begin again.