Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brave New World...

...with apologies to Aldous Huxley.

I've always been intrigued by the fact that, in music, when technology brought about a better - more capable - instrument, from the shadows came composers and performers who knew how to create music that previously had not been possible.

When a keyboard instrument that could play both piano and forte (soft and loud) was invented, there was a Mozart available to ensure it would be heard forever. When the same instrument gained a greater range of octaves, Beethoven stepped forward to make use of this expansion for greater music than had ever been heard.

When Dr. Moog created his synthesizer in the 1960s, a fiendishly problematic instrument by all accounts, Wendy Carlos was there to switch on Bach.

Electric guitars came to the fore and Jimmi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, Eric Clapton were on hand to show us how it's done.

How that process works is a mystery to me.

There are changes happening in the area of writing also. I have the ability to create blocks of text - witness the text on this web page. I can weave stories with words. Such weaving has gone on since humans developed speech.

Often, though, words were only part of the package. Seldom in the oral tradition was the storyteller simply recounting a tale. Gesture, facial expression, movement were, and yet are in many parts of the world, of a piece with the words. I imagine the concept of the play grew from such performance.

Through history, books were not always simple blocks of text. Illustrated manuscripts attest to that. In these modern times, there are new tools for creating stories, books, that are more than just words.

Apple's new iBooks Author is one of them. There have been others, of course, but Apple knows how to capture the limelight. They have excellent marketing. I know they do - I've been marketed to most successfully by them over the years.

But, they also have excellent  design. So this new tool, to create new forms of books, is their usual mixture of power and simplicity.

You have to have more of a visual sense, and talent, than I have to really make something good, something fresh using this tool. So, I shall continue to create blocks of text.

I look forward, however, to seeing those come forward who finally discover a tool worthy of their talent. It has always been so. It will be so again.

And what will they create?


  1. Be wary of using Apple's iBooks Author. Formatting anything using their software is proprietary, according to them. You're banned from selling it anywhere else.

    1. A valid point, Laura. But the results of iBooks Author only play on Apple's iPad (at least the fully interactive results - PDF can play on anything). And Apple's iPad is the most widely available tablet.

      So, it's really the only target available. And, so long as the creator of the book understands that, I'm not going to stress about the format being proprietary.