Microsoft this week unveiled HoloLens, an augmented-reality headset that overlays text and images on the real world and, in particular, anchors them to precise locations in space, as if they were real objects. Here’s one of Microsoft’s promotional shots to give you an idea of what wearing HoloLens is like:
In this image, the man is apparently so obsessed with going to Maui that he maintains a Sims-like vacation paradise on his counter. The TV, “Recipes” button, Maui simulation, and to-do list are all virtual—using the device on his head, only he can see whether his Sims manage find a staircase to the beach or if instead they simply leap the fifteen feet off the cliff to the sand.
At this year’s BibleTech conference, I’m going to discuss why the idea of the “digital library” doesn’t appeal to certain kinds of people, and one aspect of the discussion involves the tension between print books and digital ones, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Microsoft’s holographic technology (I recognize that one, they’re not really holograms, and two, what I’m describing here may go beyond what’s possible in the first devices) presents an intriguing way to bridge the physical and digital worlds of Bible study.
Certain kinds of people prefer to study from print Bibles, and for them digital resources serve as study augmentations: parallel Bibles and commentaries feature prominently in this kind of study practice. The melding of physical and digital has always been awkward for this type of person, although tablet computers have eased this awkwardness somewhat. Still, the main limitation of digital resources for this person is space; small screens (compared to the size of a desk) don’t provide enough room to look at very many resources simultaneously, forcing them to toggle between resources. Edward Tufte calls this phenomenonbeing “stacked in time” rather than “adjacent in space,” saying that the latter is generally preferable.