The Book, the Mind, and the Ever-Changing Story

The Book, the Mind, and the Ever-Changing Story

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Listen to the story


Humans, from time immemorial, have held a peculiar power—the power of story. It was in the whispered myths around ancient fires, and it lives now in thick, bound tomes or glowing screens. Yuval Noah Harari call it our species’ superpower. Deep learning may be the realm of the machine, fueled by raw data, but we humans find our learning in the heart of tales well-told.

Think of the words themselves as the map, and our minds the explorers. Cassandra Clare knew this when she wrote of words transforming us, just as Stephen King did when he likened books to magic you could carry in your pocket. Machines may parse data, but we parse stories. Each sentence offers a handhold, a step on an unknown journey that is simultaneously universal and deeply personal.

A good book is never a straight, paved road. It winds and branches, mirroring the labyrinth of our own thoughts and experiences. We backtrack, puzzle, and re-trace our steps, not just through the literal text, but through the caverns of our memories. King was right—the best books keep their secrets close, revealing them slowly like treasures unearthed one by one.

The structure of a book, paradoxically, grants freedom. Pages act as stepping stones, but within them, the mind leaps and lingers. Questions form, predictions bloom, only to be shattered and reformed with a surprising turn of the page. Unlike a course, a book is not a factory assembly line churning out a standard product. And while a thrilling game demands honed reflexes, a book asks only that your mind be active, your imagination a willing participant.

The printed word, the codex, has endured for good reason. Gutenberg’s press allowed knowledge to spread, and with it, the fire of the human intellect. Just as those ancient philosophers, from Pericles to Socrates, understood the power of the spoken word to elevate thought, we hold onto the weight of the written word. It gives us space to breathe when the relentless pace of a technology-driven world gets too loud.

But could we make the experience even more immersive? Imagine interactive books – not ones that abandon the written word, but enhance it. Subtle cues could focus attention, annotations could blossom into context-rich popups…even simulations. What if, for a heart-stopping moment, the reader could step not just into the story, but see the consequences of a protagonist’s choice play out through carefully designed scenarios? This wouldn’t dilute the book, but intensify it.

The machine may be birthing its own forms of intelligence, drawing knowledge from oceans of pure data. All the more reason for us to hold close our superpower of story. The book is our forge, not our relic. Let’s embrace ways to make the flame burn brighter, to deepen our own learning as the world around us shifts in ways we can barely comprehend. We’ve always used stories to understand, and as we face the future, they might just be our greatest tool to stay one step ahead.

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom

Learn more about interactive books from SOE PublishingLab Makerspace – four video presentations – click below

About Interactive Books From Soe Publishinglab Makerspace

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We offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Counselling: We can help you assess your needs and develop a plan for your digital learning project.
  • Development: We can create custom digital learning experiences that meet your specific goals.
  • Knowledge management: We can help you improve your organisation’s knowledge management practices.
  • Interactive books: We can create interactive books that engage and motivate learners.

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