By Salina Christmas
Jie Qi, designer and a mechanical engineering major at Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), US, researches on mechatronics, new media, physical computing and human-computer interaction. While researching with the High-Low Tech Group, she created the Electronic Popables, a pop-up book with electronic interactive elements.
Q. What do you think will become of books?
There is no doubt that text and images in all their forms are here to stay and flourish, especially without the limits of physical materials and with the speed of information transfer through digital media. However, as for print, I feel that as long as we stay grounded in the tactile, tangible world, books in their bound form will persist. They are fine objects to hold, handle and engage with, in a way that sleek and fast electronics have not managed to fulfill. From the creator’s point of view, there is also something wonderful about making physical marks on a page by hand – be it a drawing or handwriting – that feels much more controlled, direct and personal than with any sort of digital input device. What’s fascinating is to see how the physical/tangible nature of the printed page will persist or blend with new, electronic, interactive technologies.
Q. What is your favourite book? By author/photographer, design or publisher?
One of my favorite books is actually The Elements of Pop-Up by James Diaz and David Carter. It’s a pop-up book on how to make pop-up books. Each page is made up of simplified examples that you can actually dissect to figure out how they work. The Great Gatsby is another.
Q. What was the last book you read? Or published!
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Q. Finally: Kindle, PDF, HTML – or print?
Print for savouring a free afternoon with a “good book,” especially hardcover library books with dust jackets wrapped in crackly plastic. Admittedly, however, I spend most of my time with digital media for the convenience and the speed, especially when hopping from journal article to journal article.
See more of Jie Qi’s works at http://web.media.mit.edu/~jieqi