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.