“The medium is the message”

I’ve been thinking about what the iPad (and similar devices) might mean for books like the Bible, the Koran, etc. I am not a student of the Good Book and won’t get into whether it is the divinely inspired Word of God. I’m more interested in how –if at all– the technology will affect the relationship between the book and those who read it.

The Bible has been online since there was an online. And you can have it on your iPhone. So it seems certain there will be versions for the iPad. But it’s difficult to imagine a time when any device will replace the printed Bible.

I’m sure most Christians would agree the ideas are more important than the physical form of the Bible, but that’s because we have grown up with the leather cover, the gilt edge pages and the little ribbon bookmark. We cannot imagine anything replacing that. But what about children born after April 3 (date the iPad ships). Will they be forced to read this one paper book while the rest of their life is on (insert name of cool new device here)?

“But there are no links? I can’t search!”

I’m sure there are detailed histories of the physical evolution of the Bible. From manuscripts and scrolls to the first printed version. And each new format required some adjustment.

I assume there are html versions of the Bible, with hyperlinks to maps, photographs, videos, source documents and all the rest.

I read that early versions had to be written in Latin which meant only the priests (or someone who could read Latin) could tell you what was in the book and what it meant.

Then old Johann Gutenberg started printing copies and it wasn’t long before everyone could have one to read (and interpret).

I’m not suggesting the iPad will have anything like the impact of the Gutenberg Bible, I’m just wondering about the relationship between content and medium.

One thought on ““The medium is the message”

  1. My daughter is a heavy-duty Jesus person. She owns several study bibles, and has at least two on her I-pod Touch.

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