As we edge towards deeper adoption of the digital age, the question of translation versus imagination emerges.
What does this mean?
Take iBooks; its translation of a book page into digital format is so realistic that my fuddled brain commands my right hand to hold the page down whilst I'm flicking dust off the screen with my left hand. My brain sees the digital translation of a book, wholly as a book. No room for doubt, this is a book and obeys the rules of being a book. There's even some basic upgrades on a book. Page markers, searches, font sizes can all be changed so it's a digital book, right?
I'm less sure about this. It's a digital translation of a book, but if we were using our 'digital imagination' shouldn't the book seize the opportunity to embed functionality into the story? Can't we merge text and film to bring stories to life? Shouldn't Harry Potter have dragons leaping from the page? Wouldn't encyclopaedias be more fun and create better learning if film clips emerged to bring knowledge to life.
Perhaps ironically, the sense of 'imagination' would ultimately limit our ability to imagine the story in our minds, or create pictures in our heads, but this feels like a basic opportunity for technology to fulfil its potential. After all, hasn't the calculator removed the need for arithmetic? Hasn't spellcheck killed the dictionary?
Where's the lid for Pandora's virtual box when you need it?