By R. J. Heathorn (* PUNCH, May 9, 1962)
A new aid to rapid--almost magical--learning has made its appearance. Indications are that if it catches on all the electronic gadgets will be so much junk.
The new device is known as Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge. The makers generally call it by its initials, BOOK.
Many advantages are claimed over the old-style learning and teaching aids on which most people are brought up nowadays. It has no wires, no electric circuit to break down. No connection is needed to an electricity power point. It is made entirely without mechanical parts to go wrong or need replacement.
Anyone can use BOOK, even children, and it fits comfortably into the hands. It can be conveniently used sitting in an armchair by the fire.
How does this revoluntionary, unbelievably easy invention work? Basically BOOK consists only of a large number of paper sheets. These may run to hundreds where BOOK covers a lengthy programme of information. Each sheet bears a number in sequence, so that the sheets cannot be used in the wrong order.
To make it even easier for the user to keep the sheets in the proper order they are held firmly in place by a special locking device called a "binding".
Each sheet of paper presents the user with an information sequence in the form of symbols, which he absorbs optically for automatic registration on the brain. When one sheet has been assimilated a flick of the finger turns it over and further information is found on the other side.
By using both sides of each sheet in this way a great economy is effected, thus reducing both the size and cost of BOOK. No buttons need to be pressed to move from one sheet to another, to open or close BOOK, or to start it working.
BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. Instantly it is ready for use. Nothing has to be connected up or switched on. The user may turn at will to any sheet, going backwards or forwards as he pleases. A sheet is provided near the beginnning as a location finder for any required information sequence.
A small accessory, available at trifling extra cost, is the BOOKmark. This enables the user to pick up his programme where he left off on the previous learning session. BOOKmark is versatile and may be used in any BOOK.
The initial cost varies with the size and subject matter. Already a vast range of BOOKs is available, covering every conceivable subject and adjusted to different levels of aptitude. One BOOK, small enough to be held in the hands, may contain an entire learning schedule.
Once purchased, BOOK requires no further upkeep cost; no batteries or wires are needed, since the motive power, thanks to an ingenious device patented by the makers, is supplied by the brain of the user.
BOOKs may be stored on handy shelves and for ease of reference the programme schedule is normally indicated on the back of the binding.
Altogether the Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge seems to have great advantages with no drawbacks. We predict a big future for it.
A Boss' response:
BOOK* does not, in spite of the claims, seem "to have great advantages with no drawbacks". Soon, it probably won't even be legal. Consider:
"It can be conveniently used sitting in an armchair by the fire." Being paper, it might burn in the fire. Probably fire laws in most locations wouldn't allow its use there. Worse, such a device, which encourages close proximity of the user to fire, will be outlawed by OSHA's request.
"Each sheet bears a number in sequence, so that the sheets cannot be used in the wrong order." How quaint; to think that the programmer (author) would be allowed to turn over such an important task to the user! "cannot" is clearly misuse; any user could incorrectly turn to the wrong page. A proper user interface might correct that, of course, such as requiring that each sheet be torn off to expose the next. This is a clear conflict with "The user may turn at will to any sheet, going backwards or forwards as he pleases." and "BOOKs may be stored on handy shelves and for ease of reference". The user interface obviously needs more work before such a system can be practical.
"the motive power -- is supplied by the brain of the user". Clearly, the inventors have not examined recent trends. No serious person would suggest even expecting a "user" to have a brain present, much less to use it so continuously.
I'd suggest the inventors return to their consoles and do a thorough associative search of various data banks, like the rest of us, and forget this nonsense.