The future, as William Gibson once said, is already here. It is just unevenly distributed. You can find the future in new technologies and the people who wade into them early on—people like Nick Bilton, the chief blogger for the New York Times. (His official title is lead technology writer because the New York Times doesn’t like to admit it employs bloggers, I guess). Bilton, who previously worked in the R&D department of the New York Times, has a book coming out titled, appropriately enough, I Live In The Future & Here Is How It Works.
Apparently, that future does not include Apple’s iBooks, the digital books Apple sells on the iPad. The book will be available in September in print, digital editions for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s eBooks, but not for the iBook. Bilton’s publisher, as a division of Random House, does not make its titles available in Apple’s iBook store. But no matter. There will be an accompanying iPad app, iPhone app, and mobile website.
I caught up with Bilton a couple weeks ago, and he showed me a preview of the mobile website, which he explains in the video above. Each chapter has a 2-D barcode that can be scanned with a camera phone to bring up a corresponding Webpage with all of the links referenced in that chapter, videos, and the ability to comment. In that way, each chapter will become like a blog post with reader comments and discussion. I am not sure you can do any of that stuff with an iBook anyway. In the future, everything is an app.
Part of the book tries to answer the question of what effect the Internet is having on our brains. Unlike another author named Nick (Carr), Bilton does not think the Internet is a making us stupid. I concur (you can watch Carr interviewed on TechCrunchTV by Andrew Keen). When Bilton looks at the brain research, he finds evidence that people can process information just fine when skipping from text to video to links, as long as all the different bits are related.