Clay Shirky argues that technologies get interesting only when they’re widespread enough to become boring. In 2012, in the best way possible, e-readers became incredibly, fantastically boring. Though the year found marginal improvements to e-reader technologies, it also saw a significant reversal in the relationship between humans and the written words we use to help express our humanity: In 2012, we read books, but our books also read us. Teachers used e-readers to catch would-be cheaters among their students. Books on screens promised new frontiers of interactivity between textbooks and teaching. They transformed Shakespeare’s plays from public performances to intimate ones. We went, with our books, back to the future, rediscovering in digital texts what has always made books agents of culture and, generally, awesome: their implicit community, their fundamental sociability, their ability to capture and convene. This year, we began to learn what it will mean to have books and readers that are reciprocal. We began to understand an old insight in a new way: We shape our books, and then our books shape us.
The Year in Tech, 2012: Reading (via courtenaybird)