Snooze-Buttons and Marginalia: Simulating Humanity

A recent conversation with Ally upon waking up from a nap:

Ally: Did you know when I tried to wake you up you said, “Can you pretend I hit the snooze button”?

Antero: Really? I did? So what did you do?

Ally: I came back ten minutes later to wake you up.

Antero: That’s amazing: A snooze button simulates the human action of snoozing. You basically simulated a simulation of a human action.

All this functions as a round-about introduction to the fact that I only now discovered that The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet has an iOS app. And it looks pretty cool. For a book that’s already pushing the general limitations of a printed page, it is exciting to see the text moving in even more directions.*

What I find troublesome, though, is the idea of tangible marginalia as a feature in the app. As the painstakingly detailed portions of Spivet’s notes now move beyond their geographically named “margin” to take center stage on the app, I wonder if the net gains of such features outweigh the losses. In effect, the process of reading an invigorating text like T.S. Spivet is in holding a book and seeing book-like conventions convey emotion, empathy, and humor in congruity with the main, dominant text.

Like a snooze-button simulacrum, the digital marginalia now mimics an analog mimicry of traditional human actions of annotation and transcription.


* I should note this was discovered belatedly as a friend on Twitter only now points me to the direction of Larson’s blog and homepage. [A movie adaptation of Spivet in the works!? Dios mio!]

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