Thursday, January 06, 2005

Creative Thinking

I have a project I have to finish tonight so don't have time for more than a "quickie." Margaret Atwood can now add inventor to her resume. Apparently her last book tour was so exhausting it got her to thinking. Her thinking led to the creation of a machine, but not just any machine:

The machine, created in consultation with computer experts under Atwood's newly created company Unotchit Inc., is still in the development phase, but at the moment it will comprise two units. The first will consist of a screen, where the author can see and speak to the book reader in real-time, and a tablet on which the author will write the inscription. The second unit will be with the book reader, and will also include a screen to communicate with the author in real-time, and will have a flat book holder as well as an electronic arm and pen that will scrawl out the autograph. The system will allow the inscription to be edited or spell-checked before being committed to paper and the quality of the signature should be identical to one done in person, Atwood says. The book reader will also be able to keep a record of the on-screen interaction with the author for posterity.
Before you start bemoaning the end of author tours, know that the machine is not intended to replace readings, but to help facilitate more interaction between author and reader. An author can't go to every city on a tour, but with the help of the machine (I hope she comes up with an interesting name for it), the author can sign books in places she is unable to visit. Kind of spiffy if you ask me.