Friday, August 03, 2007

Reading machines

Dizzyhead Ed, my mirror-Saybrugian, sends us poetry-in-motion news of another sort:

Haiku writing game to be released in Japan

In 1689, Japanese poet Basho Matsuo embarked on a 150-day walking journey from Tokyo through the northern regions of Japan. His experiences were recorded in Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) and is sprinkled with haiku poetry. The work is one of the most famous pieces of classical Japanese literature, required reading for young students throughout the country.

In 2006 a publishing company released a new edition of the classic that allowed readers to trace Matsuo's words in a slow, deliberate pace. The book was a huge hit, and now game developer Success has announced a DS version to be released later this month. Enpitsu de Oku no Hosomichi DS features a full musical score, watercolor-style illustrations, and readings by actor Nakamura Toru. Players hold the system sideways and trace kanji on the touch screen.

It may seem like an elaborate set-up to push an eBook, but given the success of the print version, Enpitsu will end up another runaway hit. Just don't expect an English version. Ever. [via Insert Credit]
This reminds me of the original version of William Gibson's Agrippa: A Book of the Dead, which I remember reading about way back in 1993—and now I can find it on the Web!:

The deluxe edition of "Agrippa" comes in a 16-by-21 1/2-inch metal mesh case sheathed in Kevlar, the polymer that bulletproof vests are made of. Sheltered inside the case is a book of 93 rag-paper pages bound in singed and stained linen that appears to have survived a fire. The last 60 pages have been fused together to form a block; cut into the block is a four-inch square niche that holds a computer disk; encrypted on this disk is the text of "Agrippa (A Book of the Dead)," a short story by Mr. Gibson. The encryption process entails a computer "virus" programmed by a team of anonymous hackers. Because of the virus, the story cannot be viewed normally on a computer screen or printed out at will. The first time the disk is inserted in a computer, the words of the story begin scrolling up the screen at a preset speed as if the computer and not the reader were scanning the text. This first "reading" is also the last. As the sentences scroll by, the virus is silently corrupting all the data on the disk. When the last word vanishes from the screen, the disk is no longer usable.

* * *

Speaking of Gibson, this is something I'm keeping in mind as I enter my dotage:

I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here.



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