A store colleage forwarded a couple links that have some interesting content. The first is a link to a posting on another blog -- paleo-future.com. The posting quotes a 2006 book on technology based change that argues most future-predictions of the effects of technology change are overhyped. I have not had the opportunity to read the book (yet), but I did do some searching on the post, the book and several reviews.
The point of the book and the post remind me of another book about "surfing fads in the boardroom." People often chase after what is new and hot and expect that it will change the world. In that sense, I think the author's point is important to observe-- we must be sceptical of new technologies and scrutinize them carefully. The challenge is to not to go in the reverse direction and assume that all technological change is slow paced and that no disruptive technologies will come along to change an industry in short order. The iPod and digital music downloads are an example of the reverse. It is difficult to predict the likelihood that one specific technology will be the dominant design or will be adopted by a population for a new usage. While "tech-hype" is certainly a problem, and people change in response to technology more slowly than technology itself changes, the pace of technology-based change is increasing.
So, how do we tell if a particular technology or form of technology-based change is the one that will change an industry? We look for signs of growing adoption. We look at why similar technologies failed in the past and why they failed to see if the new technology is any different. I believe that the current technologies with e-books for education come close to meeting those standards, although they are not quite there yet. There are still several hurdles to be overcome, but we are making and seeing progress on each of those hurdles. We should be preparing now for whatever format the content or the textbook takes in the future -- which will certainly include some element of digital.