The Future of Context…and Reading

Fascinating brief piece from Wired on the changes wrought by mobile devices, particularly tablets. The bulk of the piece lays out details about how “context is now a multivariable function” dependent upon medium, location, time, social networks/position, and identity. This is a worthwhile starting point for a necessary, more expansive discussion about how context is now much more than simply the background to a story – it represents the set of interactions, filters, and mechanisms that the gives the story meaning and dimension.

Perhaps as striking here, and offered more as a preface to the remarks on context, are the opening claims about the transformation of reading currently underway. There’s some hyperbole here about the extent of the changes tablets have already made. Yet it seems undeniable for their users that the power of applications like Flipboard, FLUD, and (my own favorite) Zite is in their capability not just to personalize news content but to make tablets and phones alike truly smart mobile readers — and, presumably, in the process, to begin to profoundly alter our reading routines.

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