The frictionless future
E-books have removed a lot of the tiny impedimenta that used to exist for reading.
Of course, when we read p-books (paperbooks), we didn’t really think that much about things like having to keep our own place in a book, perhaps having to get reading glasses, and only practically being able to carry a couple of books with us at a time (I always had at least two, so I wouldn’t have the horror of finishing a book on an errand and not having another one to read). 😉
I think, similarly, we aren’t aware of some of the steps which we still take today with e-books.
As a trainer working with software, I often have people point out the number of “clicks” saved by a new feature, and they expect that means instant and universal adoption.
I have to explain that clicks don’t matter.
You see, people are very good at learning a sequence…and then forgetting the individual steps.
Let’s say that somebody is doing something in ten clicks. I show them how to do it in three clicks. If I come back a month later, they’ll probably be doing it in ten again.
If I ask them why, they’ll say, “It’s how I know how to do it.”
They aren’t thinking of it as ten actions, they are thinking of it as one.
I demonstrate this by asking somebody to suddenly give me the fifth number in their phone number. They typically pause and have to think about it.
If I just said, “What’s your phone number?” they could instantly spit it out…even though that’s more digits.
It’s similar with e-reading.
Once we identify friction points, developers can think about how to get around them…and believe me, they already are.
I always have a password on my tablets… think that’s pretty necessary if you are going to do any kind of personal business (or business business) on them. I don’t do that on my EBRs (E-Book Readers), but I probably would if they left the house. 😉
There is work being done right now to eliminate passwords.
One promising idea is that your phone can tell who you are…by your gait, by how you swipe, by your face, by your voice, by a fingerprint…a lot of possibilities.
If someone else picked it up, the phone will be able to tell…and at that point, it would require a password.
We don’t give as much data to our EBRs and tablets…we just don’t carry them around as much.
One solution would be to have your phone (or some wearable or implant) tell your EBR/tablet who you are. With biometrics (another possibility is to recognize our unique smells), a more powerful EBR/tablet could do it on its own.
Another point of friction?
Getting to the device.
I know that may sound funny, but how often are you walking back to where your device is, or digging it out of a purse/laptop case?
I think we like the form factor of a six-inch (or slightly bigger) screen too much to assume that people will read on phones or watches.
That likely means projection…although the projection may very likely be virtual.
I don’t mean specifically virtual reality, which replaces your actual environment…but augmented reality (which puts fictional objects into the real world) might work quite well. People would miss the sense of touch…but they are working on that, too.
Having to pick a new book is definitely friction, although it can be an enjoyable challenge. They’ve been working on that with videos…autoplay. I think some sort of autoplay for books is in the future…where it automatically presents you with the next book in a series, or by the same author, or on the same topic…and it will figure out which one you most likely want.
Our devices are going to become much more aware of our emotions…meaning that a book selection interface could show you some options, and determine which one you prefer just based on where and long your gaze went and was…four choices could appear on the screen, and based on where you looked, it would pull up which one you’ve silently and subconsciously indicated.
Basically, summing up, when we want to read we’ll just be able to read. 🙂
Oh, another area…turning pages. Eventually, e-books will know when we are getting to the end of a page (and separate that from just a glance).
Those are a few things that occur to me…how about you? What are your friction points in e-reading? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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