Jeremy Kaplan at the Wall Street Journal’s “Digits” blog offers an interesting discussion on the two possible futures of e-text: the iPad-like lockdown, where digital text can be carried around easily but not so easily shared or remixed—or a more open future where text can be shared and used in many different ways.
The blog post links to and summarizes a presentation by Steven Johnson at the Columbia Journalism School, discussing those futures. I haven’t yet had the chance to watch it or read the transcript, but the discussion sounds like an interesting, albeit familiar, one. Certainly Cory Doctorow has brought up a lot of these points, too.
I certainly want greater openness for more “textual productivity” myself, but the control really isn’t in Apple’s hands as long as publishers insist on DRM. On the other hand, unlike with the iTunes music store, there has been no sign as yet that Steve Jobs feels the same way about DRM for books as he did about DRM for music.