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Did Star Wars show us the future of digital publishing?

6 February 2016

From Booknet Canada:

Despite most of us cringing our way through the Star Wars prequels, any book nerd or tech enthusiast will remember a certain scene from Attack of the Clones that will stick with us forever:


The Jedi Archives seemed to combine the beauty and splendor of physical books with their efficient digital counterparts to create this breathtaking temple of knowledge. And while some might argue that digitization has caused society in the Star Wars universe to evolve into one that operates in functional illiteracy, the Jedi at least value the preservation and utilization of knowledge through book form, even if that form is so technologically advanced our digital technology hasn’t yet begun to touch it.

But are the books in the Jedi Archive really so far removed from our current technology? Upon observation of the shelves, the digital books seem to be lined up as if they occupied physical space, spines facing out for ease of browsing (just like our regular, dusty print libraries). Some of the spines even seem to exhibit discolouration or dimness, causing one to wonder if digital deterioration, just like the breakdown of a paper book, might be an issue in this digital world.

. . . .

Digital books in the Star Wars universe also seem to have far more interactivity and advanced features built into them. Obi Wan can drill down to the information he wants in this galactic map, search, click on elements, and receive more information. Will future digital books allow us to harness the power of the internet’s full range of information in our hands? Are we already there with smartphones and book apps?

Link to the rest at Booknet Canada and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Ebooks, Non-US

7 Comments to “Did Star Wars show us the future of digital publishing?”

  1. “Did Star Wars show us the future of digital publishing?”

    Title asks a question, so the answer be ‘no’ …

    Other than ‘Tron’, the insides of computers are boring, there’s no excitement looking at a list on a screen, so the filmmakers (those same guys/gals that have a single bullet blow up a car) gave you something else to stare at.

    Anyone here played with micro-SD cards? smaller than my fingernail (yes, me has big hands), easy to lose. So if you can’t just transfer the ‘book’ wired or wirelessly, maybe something like those cute little colored control boards Scotty an LaForoge played with on those Star Trek shows — but no need for a full sized DVD case unless there’s a bunch of chips in each of them …

    • I was thinking the same thing. Mostly what it gave us in this scene was a pretty futuristic picture of a library!

      • A library from *a long time ago* in a galaxy far, far away where there is sound in space.

        They’re not just scraping the bottom of the anti-digital barrel, they’re scraping the concrete under the barrel. They’ll sooner find oil than a valid justification for their fetish.

        • (should have had a comma between pretty and futuristic or just written “pretty and futuristic picture of a library.”)

          • I got the idea: it’s a 30’s futurist idea of a library.

            You have to go that far back because by the 40’s Dr. Vannevar Bush (love that name) was already working on hypertext and computerized libraries.


            If anything, that set looks more like an old-school mainframe data center than a library.

            Of course, if the pbook crowd wants to hang onto their vision of the future by referring to STAR WARS, the digital world can point out that as far back as the 60’s Kirk was considered an eccentric for pining over dead tree pulp instead of digital and in the 80’s Picard did all his reading on the handheld PADDs. 😉

  2. The funny thing is, there’s actually some reasonably overwhelming evidence that “books” as such, and reading and writing, simply don’t exist in the Star Wars universe. And while jumping to conclusions based on what’s shown and not shown on screen can lead to fairly silly places like deciding that fictitious characters simply don’t generate bodily wastes since they’re never shown getting rid of any, the “proof” seems fairly solid here.

    • I wouldn’t think we see enough of any given character at leisure to be able to say that, and I think there are enough display/maps to reasonably infer that there exists literature of some sort or other. Just like I’d infer from the fact that Luke, Owen, and Beru drink something that looks like milk, and later we see Beru preparing something with leafy vegetables, and then more later we see Luke, Leia, and Han in that waste compactor, that many characters in the universe have a digestive process much like our own.

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