This video here, with the first ever fully-interactive book, is by far the coolest thing I’ve seen with the application of books to a digital media. It makes the Nook and other eReaders look terribly low-tech.
When I see tech like this, see how it is transforming old media into new media, into a new creative means to obtain information, I can’t help but get a little giddy. But I also have my concerns.
I remember (and I’m dating myself here) when the History Channel aired its first programs; I used to sit and watch them all (mainly about the Civil War and WWII) but I can recall, even now, thinking back to the early 90′s, the programs about the lives of Pocahontas, or of certain figures in history, which were completely revisionary and countered my young mind’s thoughts about those characters, those cultural myths I held about them (especially the founding fathers of this country). At one point in my life–before I knew better–the History Channel and networks like it were a large part of the educational background about the past. I used to put a great deal of weight on their programs. And I’m sure for most of the lay population, this remains a truism.
In today’s politically-charged, Biblical-history-esque world, where anyone can ‘play at archaeology’ (al la Simcha Jacobovici or Elkington) the programs run on networks like Discovery and History present a troubling consequence primarily for historians, but also to society in general–who risk losing their past through the exploitation of their ignorance of it by these networks. The rise of technology and the spreading of historical information over these new mediums create historical memes that stick and, unfortunately, don’t go away without a fight. In other words, what is being portrayed as history is, in fact, history’s antithesis; yet the medium by which this blasphemy is being being peddled is so effective at its job, that countering it is difficult and time consuming and exponentially more work.
What do you think? What potential could this future book hold towards developing better and more interesting ways to educate people about the past? In what ways could it hinder it?