October 1st, 2009

Considering Vooks and other attempts to make old-fashioned books more multimedia

The New York Times takes a look at Vooks and other ways of interacting with readers in an era of clicakable links. Some of these electronic books have imbedded videos, which makes sense for a book on how to do certain exercises, or other times when hearing or seeing would add life to a non-fiction explanation.

I'm not sure that watching a snippet of video adds to a novel.

But if it attracts new readers, then great. Because although one NYT commenter worried that people would no longer have the patience to read Henry James or George Eliot in the new world of Vooks and the like, I think the world where most adults had read James or Elliot is long vanished. I think back to my old office, which was filled with extremely intelligent people. I would bet that, unless they had read them in college, fewer than one in a hundred had read James or Elliot. Many of my colleagues read no more than two or three novels every year. And quite a few read no novels at all.

Here's what I thought about vooks, back in the dark ages of July.

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Everything is really funny when you've had five hours sleep

Full disclosure: I've been a Mac person as long as there have been Mac people. And I've done my share of muttering at Microsoft Word, which often decides it knows better than you and starts numbering or indenting or whatever.

So I guess Microsoft decided to encourage people to have house parties to celebrate Windows 7. Now, setting aside WHAT KIND OF CRAZY PERSON WOULD WANT TO DO THAT?, they made a Youtube video to show just how fun it could be to gather four people representing various demographics who can fake laugh with the best of them.

It's really awful.

Mac software developer Cabel Sasser took the clip and bleeped out selected words to suggest a much different kind of party was being planned. Now I don't why, but just the addition of a few bleeps makes this clip much more watchable. In fact, it's hysterical.

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