On Friday night I went with J to his work Christmas party. After swapping secret santa presents, embarrassing ourselves with band hero and testing out a few crantinis, he and his colleagues were presented with their Christmas gifts, ipads.
Admittedly, I was a bit aloof about the ipad. I was all, oh great, yay, looks nice, mm hmm, okay - with a slight eye roll. All the while wondering what the enormous deal was, as whoops and gasps filled the room. It seemed to me just like a larger version of the iphone.
I was wrong. Oh so wrong.
The ipad is all kinds of unimaginable awesomeness. I keep trying to steal it away to have a go myself, but it's pretty hard to steal when the thing is physically attached to the person you're trying to steal from. Ever since we've acquired the ipad, communication in our house has been disrupted. In order to get my husband's attention, I have to raise the decibel level of my voice, wave frantically, or tug at his sleeve.
We've had some of those "...so, I saw a pink elephant flying over the house earlier..." conversations too.
I can't blame him though. And the truth is, I'm jealous.
There are applications for everything: online newspapers, magazines, stores, recipes, TV guides and games. The screen is the perfect size to watch movies, read the entire front spread of an online newspaper, or look at a whole bunch of photographs at once.
Did I mention, it's awesome?
Some of the best applications I've seen so far are the children's stories. As well as being beautifully illustrated and narrated, the stories are interactive: in one you can shake a tree and see apples fall to the ground, or touch jingle bells to hear each individual jingle or touch a clown to help him cast toys around the room. If you tip the ipad one way or the other all the characters and objects fall as though gravity existed in this small, intelligent computer.
Of course, our kids are completely captivated by the interactive stories. They can participate in the adventures and have an actual impact on the way the tale unfolds.
It's a completely new concept to me - reading books like this, online, on a screen, with bits of the story moving a wobbling in an all-too realistic way. And I can't help but wonder if this will be the future of reading?
I hope not. I never got into the Kindle. I don't advocate those electronic kids' toys that teach reading and writing and spelling.I've never bought a leap frog pad thing, or downloaded an application from the Internet.
When it comes to learning to read and write, I'm firmly old school. I want my kids to learn the way I learned: with a pencil and a piece of paper and years of practice, and some good old fashioned paper books printed with real ink.
Like I said, I never got into the Kindle. I still prefer to hold a real book in my hands and turn the pages with my fingers, I like to see the print of the ink on paper. I still prefer to read my news on a broadsheet which, I know, is not the most environmentally friendly option, but that's the way I like it.
Having said all this, when I look at these ipad stories, with their interactive stories and their characters that come to life, I wonder how traditional books will be able compete. My generation is already Internet-obsessed, and I can only imagine the next generations will be more so.
Are we going to see a decline (or worse, an end) to the printed book?
How do you feel about your kids reading books on a screen as opposed to in printed format? Do you encourage it or hope they'll stick to the old fashioned way?