eBook vs Tree Book: A technology terminology metadiscussion that ends with “New Media”

People-Press-300x200There’s been a lot of new media meta discussion recently; I wrote a post for the ALSC blog called “Screen Time” is Bad, which discusses the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad phrase “screen time” and Carisa wrote a related piece on the Digital Media Diet entitled Screen Time Vs Screen Quality: Why the Current Media & Kids Debate is About the Wrong Topic.

Then this morning she sent me this report from the Pew Research Center: In a digital age, parents value printed books for their kids. I barely got through the first paragraph when I realized I was confused; they use the word “print” to refer to paper books, as opposed to electronic books. We had a yabber about that, and it was decided that there is little or no ambiguity when you compare the terms “ebook” and “tree book.” But then I got thinking about some of the conference and institute proposals I’ve submitted with a host of other awesome people, and I realize I’m being way too app-centric.

Apps apps apps! That’s all we seem to talk about these days, and I think that’s short sighted. Fran Simon talks about “app mania,” both with reference to the use of technology for technology’s sake, and also in the sense that we ignore simpler tools (like spreadsheets, cameras and text editors) as center points for engagement when using technology with young children. When did the word “apps” come to refer to any kind of technology you might use with a child? (See a fabulous Slideshare presentation by Fran Below)

It’s exciting that we exist in such a tumultuous time, but it means we’re all going to have to renegotiate and redefine the words we use. The words we use shape the thoughts in our heads. For my next conference proposal I’m going to try NOT to use the word “app” too much, in favour of “new media.” We’ll see how that goes.


Posted on May 29, 2013, in Apps, eBook and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love the phrase “tree book”. I thought of it myself a few days ago, when I was trying to distinguish between electronic books and hard-copy books. I hope it catches on.

    eBooks are wonderful and convenient and much easier to pack, but I still love my tree books as well. I’m sure the ebooks they have for children are just wonderful, but I do love reading a tree book with a kid in my lap and not having to worry about what happens if I drop it, or the kid drops something /on/ it.

    I imagine we’ve lost lots of little pleasures over the years as technology has advanced, but we do manage to find new ones. The next generation will mostly be raised on books with pictures that dance around while you are reading the story, and they won’t be able to understand how we lived without that feature.

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