The Adventures of TBUG & Sasquatch is a reader for young students. Designed for use by home and public educators, the book contains text-based narrative: printed words grouped according to sentence and paragraph, then sorted into short chapters. Very short chapters.
QR-Codes provide a technical addition to the design. The small, speckled box at the top of each chapter links a Smart phone or tablet to a visualized audiobook, thereby upscaling the reader to “duplexed” narrative. The goal is to create a multi-engagement pathway for novice readers.
Text and context-based narratives differ significantly. While one is not inherently better than the other, each manifests powerful attributes. Text narratives drive the high resolution transfer of information. As such, printed text serves as the ultimate tool for creating a structure-of-mind.
Context narratives, with their audio-visual characteristics, enrich a viewer with visualized metaphor and the inflectional power of spoken words. While context records provide a simple, natural map of a given subject, the electronic frame that conveys context media tends to eclipse a page of text.
A simple test: try reading a book while watching a game of rugby on a large screen. Notice how easily the act of reading is blinded in the sounds and motion of context media. The only possible way to make the book more invisible is to place it behind the screen. That’s the sum of it.
The 100-year plus conflict between text and context records has resulted in a significant loss with respect to the practice of reading. But I … diatribe.
Can we combine both? The Adventures of TBUG and Sasquatch is a test-case for that question. By restricting context records (animations, spoken words, illustrations) to a side role as marginalia, the media page is forced to enhance, not eclipse the mind-building properties made possible by a page of text and the act of reading.
Treated as a special class of modifier — think of it as a visualized adjective or adverb — a case can be made for duplexed-narrative as a super language format. One that includes high resolution information based on reading, empowered by the inflectional speed of human language: spoken words, finger pointing, and lines drawn into the sand.
Bottom line: duplexed-narrative seems to work. But of course, that’s eager reporting from a starving author. The only way to confirm this is to buy a copy and give it to a kid. Then watch.