Our discussion of perfect learning environments has stayed with me. It keeps eating away at my free moments. I will be taking care of my child, holding her, or singing to her, and I will have a brainstorm about what learning should be like. The majority of these brainstorms this weekend have centered around the question that most people seemed to ignore in our Conversate discussion: What is the future of reading? I just couldn’t believe that reading would go unchanged while everything else seems to be advancing, but I also had a hard time believing that anyone would want to give up their powers of imagination just so they could see movie clips within their books. So, I decided to take it in a different direction entirely. I decided that there is going to be a reading revolution:
The future of reading is interactive. It is non-linear. It is user-directed and open-ended. It is visual and collaborative. It is a new skill to be mastered.
Books are linear. You have to start at the beginning and end at the end. The author has already chosen how the story will go. There is a progression that must be followed. Yet, you have no part in creating this progression. All you can do is go along for the ride. Imagining all of the events and people in the story is about as interactive of an experience as you can hope for.
The future I see for literature is one in which all stories are 3-dimensional. What I mean by this is that you can put them together in an infinite number of ways. You can add to them and explore them by navigating a virtual space. It will be like you see the entire story at once, rather than looking at just one moment in time. All stories will somehow be connected to a visual counterpart, taking away some avenues for imagination but creating many more. You will have to be able to analyze both written and visual forms of text, and you will have to fill in the holes of any plot with events of your own.
N ow, I don’t believe that traditional stories and books will ever be extinct. We naturally have beginnings, middles, and endings. But, I believe that there will come a day when this new genre of Creative Reading comes to the forefront of our literacy practice. I believe that someday soon we will have the ability to walk through a story the same way that we walk through a mall. And to show you that this is possible, here is my rather crude example. (You will need Google Sketch-up to read it.)