Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
When I was a kid, I was a big fan of detective cartoons. I particularly enjoyed following the adventures of Inspector Gadget and his younger and more astute sidekick, Penny. I often imagined myself to be a crime-solver like Penny. Just like her, I wanted to have a trusty “communicator watch” and a “computer book” (as I write this, I summon the Dr. Evil air quotes) so in my games of pretend I would speak into my plastic wristwatch, imagining that I could see the face of the person I was speaking to. I would flip open my picture books and start poking the paper, as if there were screens and buttons hidden inside the pages.
Back then, Penny’s “computer book” was just a child’s sci-fi dream. Fast forward twenty-something years and those gadgets are already outdated. The iPad puts her computer book to shame and the cheaper ereaders are swiftly expanding their range of functions.
On July 30, skobbler, a leading provider of mobile map-based solutions, announced the launch of a digital map app tailored specifically for Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color. Despite lacking the necessary GPS hardware, the NOOK now offers its ereader customers a useful alternative: the ForeverMap 2.
According to the official press release:
ForeverMap 2 offers an unparalleled map experience, delivering online access to global (continent and country) and local (state and city) digital maps. The deep search functionality in ForeverMap 2 enables route calculation, local search, address search and category search. Wi-Fi positioning is also supported to enhance route guidance and map interaction.
A premium version, available for $4.99, provides unlimited access to downloadable maps for offline use. Even though Google Maps and my phone’s GPS had long ago replaced my sense of direction, the notion of having connection-free maps of the entire world at my disposal is highly attractive.
Even more attractive is the possible literary applications of such technology.
In the press release, Claudia Romanini, director of developer relations at Barnes & Noble, hints at the possibilities: “It signals a brand-new opportunity for NOOK App Developers to create location-aware apps, products and services that help our millions of NOOK Tablet and NOOK Color customers experience and navigate their physical surroundings in unique and innovative ways. We’re excited about the potential here.”
While I’m not usually a fan of choose-your-own-adventure books, the idea of an interactive and geolocated detective story sounds pretty fun.