I read in Writer's Digest yesterday about the newest publishing phenomenon: vooks. Video combined with books to create a multi-media reading experience. When I was ranting to Jason about this last night, he said, "Isn't combining pictures and music with a story a movie?" Exactly.
Recently we rented a DVD and one of the previews was for the newest generation of Blu-ray technology. A prominent feature was Instant Messaging with your friends WHILE you watch the movie. Seriously? Teens can't just watch a movie now, they have to text on their phone and IM on the touch-TV screen at the same bloody time? As it is, most kids born after the mid-eighties can't have a conversation without surfing the net, texting, talking on their cell phone, playing their DS or being otherwise insanely distracted from the person they are "speaking" to.
I worry that we are creating a very bad ADHD vortex for young people with all of these frantic electronic choices. Whenever I go out for dinner, I'm always dismayed at the tables with two bored parents people-watching while their pre-teens type away on their phones or have their noses pressed up to their DS's. It's easy for me to criticize this because I'm not there yet with my kids. I'm not saying the teen years are a breeze and every family should be actually conversing while at dinner together, but if we don't limit the electronic assault on our kids, they will be washed away in the tide and the quality of our family lives will be damaged.
This article on vooks said that for novels, they have graphic designers choosing photos and music to go with the text, effectively removing the personal imagination from the process. Books are important because they transport you to another world in your mind, and my idea of each character will differ from the next reader's, and that is the magic inherent in reading. I would never want a novel that has been designed graphically for me by someone else's vision. No thanks.
And self-help or non-fiction vooks with links embedded in the text to research more information about the topic? That's called the internet. In the insane effort to make a buck and be ahead of the electronic revolution, all of the forms of electronic media are doubling up on each other. I think it's very sad. I sincerely hope that in ten years my kids will still have the choice to read a book on their own, with no electronic interference, if they so choose. Will we hit a saturation point with all of these choices? When will publishers consider that the "dumbing-down" factor has been fully achieved?
I realize that I sound like an 85 year old here, shaking my stick and mumbling about young people while I rattle my dentures around in my mouth. I know my voice isn't going to stop this deluge of electronic schizophrenia from continuing to grow. But I do worry about the lasting effects on the next generation. I'd love to hear some opinions on this. Am I an old-fashioned fuddy duddy? Is there a good side to offering e-books with video and additional information embedded in them? Am I missing something fabulous here with my puritan approach to books as a way to stimulate our imagination? I'd love to hear what you think.