SHiFT: Doug Engelbart

by Luke Wroblewski September 28, 2006

Doug Engelbart's presentation at SHiFT 2006 described the rationale and implementation of his Hyperscope document browser. Of particular interest was to me the discussion after Engelbart's demo about the future of the book.

Engelbart argued that primarily due to the increased efficency of the digital medium (Hyperscope included), books were headed toward extinction. During the Q&A session, I asked if this principle applied to other forms of media being digitized. For example, online video has begun to settle on a 30 sec to 3 minute format for consumption. Arguably, this makes the assimilation of information through this medium more efficient. Would this indicate that the 30 minute TV show is also moving toward irrelevance? Is it that case that new forms of more efficient media have a tendency to replace less efficient previous forms?

And what about the other attributes of books beyond efficiency? The tactile, aesthetic, and archival attributes?