Today is World Book Day, a day to celebrate books, reading, and our favourite characters. It’s a chance for children to relish in the imagination that reading emboldens.
And despite competition from TV, games, and tablets, reading endures as an entertainment art form. But it’s getting more competition.
As evidenced by January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the annual showcase for the world’s biggest technology companies, one of the technologies being heavily trumpeted in 2017 is “VR” or virtual reality.
VR is about as high tech as you can get: you strap on a headset and experience a new reality; a sensation of going somewhere or doing something you couldn’t do in the real world.
Wait a second….that sounds a lot like reading.
So, while tech companies are looking to get consumers to buy into experience kit (both hardware and software), readers know they experience virtual reality already.
The very process of reading a book, immersing yourself in the story and the life of the character is an act of projection, projecting yourself into the narrative. We don’t have the phrase “lost in a book” for no reason.
I think reading is the original VR, a new tech idea delivered in a very old tech way. You open a book (which is basically a dead tree) and through the technical wonder of the Gutenberg press, you read black words on a white page and your mind, the greatest graphics processor ever developed, creates a wholly immersive experience along all five senses.