Keitai and novel, medium and message

In my last post about browsing arXiv on the iPhone, I mused about the use of mobile devices for information access. By the sort of happy coincidence which afflicts the blogger, the following day’s London Metro free paper carried an article about novels written for the mobile phone. The keitai shousetsu, as moblie phone novels are known in their native Japan. necessarily have their own style – concise and simple, with few adjectives and minimal description of any sort, no long words, and no quotations. And very, very short.

What I think worries me about this, and other information provision on mobile devices, is not that new formats are emerging. Nothing wrong with that; if the haiku had not been invented some hundreds of years ago, it would surely be the latest iPhone app. I think the problem comes when we come to believe that keitai novels are a replacement for real novels (and who has the time to read those nowadays). Or that Google-like search facilities are a replacement for a library. But that is another (shortish) story.

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