Saturday, July 11, 2015

Quo Vadis Writing - End Devices

First if all, sorry about the late posting of this post. I had some kind of first draft, second draft and rewrite-the-whole-thing experience with it. However, here it is.

I admit, I love SiFi. I read Perry Rhodan when I was a kid, I watched Star Trek and I always wanted to be a Jedi. Well, quite possible that I had dreamt of being a wizard if I had grown up 20 years later. However, what I actually wanted to say is that I loved the fact that Tom Paris in Voyager became a Hologram novelist. How cool is that - a Hologram novelist.

How would this work? Could the "reader" select the role he wants to play - the hero, the villain or a side-kick? Would they have to "follow" the story (like in captain proton) or can they decide differently. If yes, it would allow almost infinite possibilities in story creation. It would almost be like a guided role-play. You could even "read" the same story multiple times with different outcomes.
Ok ok, this example might be a bit far out into the future. However, my point is that technological development drives development in story telling, distribution and marketing. We've seen the e-book and e-book readers changing the landscape with audio books as a kind of side story. What's next? 
The first blog post in my new series about the future of writing is about new possibilities in the end device - i.E. physical book, e-book etc.

Question of Senses
When it comes to end device we have to talk about senses. Books and e-books are basically written words seen by our eyes and when it comes to this I think it is probably the end of the story. 

Don't get me wrong here - we are only at the beginning of the digitalization of books. In my last post we already found out that currently 23% of book sales are e-books. To be honest, I love hard cover. I love to see books in my library and the memories that come with them. I only have to glance at The Old Man and the Sea and the whole story is back. And then again I find myself reading e-books because it is simply more convenient and less expensive. We've only scratched the surface of digitalization yet and I am convinced, that e-book sales will take over. 

However, when it comes to reading I don't see a lot else. Pictures? Well, let's call it comics or movies - at least the silent movie's because modern ones include sound and ears. 

VR how we imagine it

VR and the Five Senses
When we start talking about storytelling the possibilities become almost infinite and I think we will see a development towards VR. However, VR right now is more a buzzword than it is actually a reality. We are still far away from covering sense of touch, taste and smell. We are probably closest with smell and then again wouldn't it be more like watching TV? Reading a book on the other side covers all senses thanks to the power of imagination. It is that real that we can fall in love with characters and cry when they die. Those amongst you that have this power understand me.

VR how it will probably end up

The next logical step is tapping directly into the brain. Crazy future talk? Of course it is. The brain is still one of the biggest mysteries and science seems to be closer to understand the Universe that understanding the human brain. Still, I am convinced that whatever is possible will explored. And yes, there will be social and legal implications, but they never stalled progress. The novel "Amped" by Daniel H. Wilson or the movie "The Surrogates" are good examples for what it could mean.

Having a story playing directly in my brain is somehow like a holodeck. Scott Adams wrote in "The Future by Dillbert" that he was afraid the holodeck would be the society's last invention and I  kind-of-agree with him. Why bother with real life, when I can have my dream life directly in my head inclusive taste, feel and smell. I would be highly addictive.

What does long-term mean? Well, my guess is as good as yours, but I think we will see first steps in gaming within the next 20 - 30 years. If you think this is not possible, just remember where we were 30 years ago - 1985. Today, an iPad 2 is as fast as the cray 2 and cray 2 was the fastest supercomputer   in 1985.

Long story short, if we talk about reading in a narrow sense we won't see a lot of innovation over the next decades. But this doesn't mean that an author could not try to make first steps towards a different kind of storytelling - maybe in a collaboration with others, but this would be a topic for another quo vadis blog post.

The next post will be about the future of distribution.

In that sense, happy forecasting
Your writer in a foreign land