There was a piece in the New York Times the other day which gave me cause to think that the iPad may not end up being the iFad that some people have suggested. A company called Inkling is setting the pace with an app that brings Web 2.0 functionality to textbooks. Aside from the ease of navigation, the lower ecological footprint from using less paper, and the portability factor (the weight of an iPad is 1.5lbs compared to the several stone’s worth of paper-based textbooks one accumulates over a semester or two), I think the really powerful aspect of this innovation is the interactive annotation tool. Reading textbooks need no longer be a solitary experience because Inkling provides learners with the capacity to leave notes for their classmates in specific areas of the book, and also view commentary from teachers. I predict that the digital natives will go for this in a big way. The key success factor will be the extent to which Inkling can grow its library of texts in a short period of time to get the critical mass it needs for this product to take-off.
An Inkling about socially mediated textbooks