The hyperbook could be considered as a transitional tool to be used until genuine electronic books become more available and accessible.
The current cost and size of the equipment does not yet permit most people to use hypermedia. However, as the saga of the incredible shrinking chip continues, we can expect an optimal system to be available by the end of the millennium. Inspired by the Dynabook, as originally conceived by Alan Kay (Kay and Goldberg, 1977; Goldberg, 1979), it is a pocketbook-size device, which opens up to reveal a screen on the top and a keyboard on the bottom, incorporating a rollerball (or trackball) to move the cursor on the screen. The software, which may contain a book, a film, a game or a course, is an optical storage device about the size of a credit card. Let us call it a Binary Operating-system for the Organization of Knowledge (acronym: BOOK) . It is not far off. Already, debit cards, the size of credit cards, containing 800 pages of information are available, and the spate of notebook computers currently appearing on the market are close to this optimal size.
Each child in a classroom could bring such a device to school - this reminds us of school-children each with their slate and chalk. We would seem, superficially, to be back to where schooling started. But these slates are something special: after reading the book, watching the video, tiring of the game and 'taking' the course, children can 'swap' them, as they do with other cards, with the other children.
It was tempting to spiral-bind the hyperbook on the side, so that text would be on the left for the left hemisphere and images would be on the right for the right hemisphere. However, such a hyperbook is clumsy to handle. The balance of text and images is, indeed, an attempt to help us to use more of our brain in education. The top-bottom format, on the other hand, reflects the metaphor of the BOOK, described above. The image at the top corresponds to the screen, which lends itself to images rather than to text; the text at the bottom corresponds to the keyboard, which lends itself to text rather than images. Juxtaposition of the two reminds us of the incongruity of using the computer as a very expensive typewriter. Within this metaphor, we can see an advantage of the hyperbook over its electronic version, the hyperdisc. Some images fit better in the 'portrait' rather than the 'landscape' format. The hyperbook is simply turned - try that with a computer screen!
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