I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
eBooks and the Internet
If you like my Sweet Little Baby Boo app for the iphone, you can heart it and help it at http://iheartthisapp.com/apps/sweet-little-baby-boo/ by clicking the plus heart button. You might even like to say something nice about it at the bottom on the page!
For so many years I’ve heard the same argument: “You wouldn’t read an ebook in bed or in the bath, would you?” I shower, so no – but in three or four years time, they’ll give eBook readers away for free and I won’t think twice about reading them in the bath.
I do, however, find I reach for my iPad in bed. I’m not reading like I used to, I’m watching instruction videos. I love them. I love TED and youtube and all the things they teach me. When I account for my general knowledge, I’d say 80% has come from the TV and the Radio – no reading involved.
So, do we still need to teach children to read? I think it’s a serious question.
When I was at school, after years of unsuccessfully learning my times tables by wrote, a friend brought in a pre-release version of the Sinclair pocket calculator. It might as well have been dropped by a UFO. That truly was a paradigm shifting moment. So much of all that mental arithmetic we used to learn, not to mention log tables and slide rules went out the door that moment. We don’t need to learn how to add up any more, we only need to know how to press the + key and we can be shown how to do that on a video. Most people rarely do anything other than +-x or ÷ in their entire lives maybe the odd %.
All practical skills are far better taught on video than in books.
Who needs inferior, printed images in dusty old books when you have the spectacular images from the greatest galleries around the world available in glowing, ultra-high definition, projected on your 3d wall-sized living room screen?
What is important – the story and the message or the words that contain them and the medium upon which they appear? A word is still a word, even if it isn’t written down. In fact most of man’s trials and tribulations come when the literate insist on setting words in stone and filling books full of rules.
I heard this weekend, that Salman Rushdie say TV is the new literature - I would agree with him. More books are sold than ever before, but their numbers pale into insignificance compared with the numbers watching TV drama. Who needs novels, other than production companies requiring* stories?
We blight our children’s early lives with this desperate desire to reach targeted reading attainment levels, all for political re-election purposes. To what end? The iPad today is like the pocket calculator was way back then. The only words we’ll need to know in future are < • || and > and maybe on and off.
Why do we need to learn to read when the written word will be defunct in the very near future?
(Of course, when I’ve watched all the videos and learned what I need about ActionScript 3 coding to get me up and running, there are a couple of old-fashioned paper books on my bedside table that I might just indulge myself with. After all, I still love the shapes that letters make on paper and in my head – but what do I know – I’m just an old fuddy-duddy the future belongs to the kids.)
Well, that would be giving it all away before I’ve really got going! All my files are set up and my Apple Developer Certificates are all in place so I can get to work. Sketches are coming along nicely, as is the text.
Text! Yes, I think text is very important. It maybe interactive, but it’s still a book with words in.
I know our new Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, isn’t very keen on computers and eBooks, but I am. The thing is to differentiate what is an eBook, which is something that you read and has words in, from a movie or a game or a TV show – eBooks and ipads and computers are not bad and they are not destroying the ability to read.
To be able to read, you need to do a lot of practice and I don’t really care wether you practice using a book or an ipad – it’s the act of reading that is the important thing.
I don’t get Google Adwords. I had a voucher to get me going and see how it works. Well, I’ve re-crafted my ad so many times and in so many different ways, yet it keeps being rejected. I have no idea what is wrong with it! Not sure I can be bothered to keep going.
I was amazed that Duncan’s microphone is also the recording device. It plugs in with a USB cable and downloads the audio files that have been recorded. How things have changed! Or have they? I suppose it’s a very high quality dictaphone when you think about it. Technologies do have a habit of converging all the time.
I’m rapidly realising that producing an app for the iPhone is the easy part, telling the world about it requires so much time, thought and creativity. I’ve found similarly minded people on a great site called momswithapps, where we can share our experiences. Sometimes it’s nice to know you are not alone
Click the baby’s tummy to start!
Well here you are! An online version of Sweet Little Baby Boo! for you to play with before you buy it. Now available on the itunes app store to download to your iphone or ipod touch. Have fun!
While they might like the app, they often complain about the price – always wanting more functionality. Most complaints go to the lowest tier price apps available – 59p or 99¢. As an app developer, you can’t charge any less. Those who comment obviously have no idea the amount of work that goes into producing and app. At 59p or 99¢, most developers will be lucky to cover their costs..
So what is 59p or 99¢ worth? I’m not sure what you can get in the States, but I found prices online here for half a bag of jelly babies, a tin of Heinz chilli beans or a non brand pot of organic baby food.
Half a bag of jelly babies only produces hyperactive children, whereas Sweet Little Baby Boo! provides entertainment, baby-level storytelling, repetition, original artwork, animation and music and a baby’s first introduction to IT, all for a third of a glass of beer.
The trouble is that there is so much out there for free but, as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Free software always comes with a message from the sponsor. Do you want to have your children’s every moment bombarded by advertising?
Go on! Treat a baby today to Sweet Little Baby Boo! – Many adults find themselves strangely hypnotised by this app too! Children love repetition and babies thrive on it. Sweet Little Baby Boo! is one of those gifts that go on giving!
Many of you who have followed my career will know that I’ve been playing with online and interactive stories for a long time. Once eBooks and apps got going, I kind of felt that I’d been there and done that. The one thing I’d learned was that there was no future in it for authors. eBooks are too easy to copy and pirate. It’s just not worth doing the work – except for the age-old reason of vanity. I’m trying to make a living!
But the iPad has made me look at things differently. I’m amazed how visceral is some of the criticism that gets hurled at Apple and the iPad. This comes from those who don’t want to pay for other people’s hard work, from tekkies who want to be able to fiddle about with your machine and fill it full of their code, like dogs weeing on lamp posts.
Those who love iPads – and boy do they love them – don’t want updates going on in the background. They don’t want anyone having control of their machine, changing the settings while they’re asleep. They want to be able to switch on and instantly get to grips with the job in hand – and that is what the iPad does, uncomplainingly, every time you swipe it on. It’s fast efficient and faithful.
And it doesn’t have Flash. That is THE main criticism – constantly repeated by those who don’t really know what Flash is. I’ve had an iPhone for about three years and I’ve not missed Flash at all. I used to be Flash’s greatest evangelist, but I get completely why Apple say no. Besides, HTML5 will soon do most of the things people miss from Flash.
I’m now using Flash to build my first iPhone App – That’s the only way you will get your Flash onto an iPhone or iPad. The coding in Flash as you experience it on the web makes it a competing operating system that allows anyone to do anything they like to your machine. People pay a premium for iPads precisely because it doesn’t have Flash and so stays as a safe as possible from outside interference.
As for ebooks, well, there is not a eBook reader yet that handles children’s picture books, where the text and pictures are so closely related, but the ipad app is perfect – which is why primary schools are beginning to swap to iPad. Easy to maintain, easy to use, transport and teach with, and a wonderful medium for Children’s books.
Having tried for so long and almost given up, I now have Shakespeare’s words of Julius Caesar ringing around my head:
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
These are very interesting times!
It may not look like much to you you, but this simple app shows me that I can turn my books and stories into iPhone apps. It looks really simple but I had to do a massive amount of work to get this far.
Many people email me about how to motivate themselves. Once I’d patted myself on the back, I realised this project, so far, is an example of persistence – you just have to keep going and not listen to those little voices in your head that tell you to give up because the amount of work and learning is just too hard! Persistence goes hand in hand with motivation.
My motivation is that I want to be an eBook publisher and take over the world – to get there I need persistence.