hitchhikersA Canadian developer is creating a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy app for the iPad. Rather than an e-book version of the prose novels, however, this app will purport to be “the” Guide, giving multimedia presentations on the Babel Fish and so forth.

It could turn out differently than I expect, but I have a strong feeling this will only end up being a novelty. Meanwhile, the actual true-to-life function of the Guide has been available for quite some time in the form of websites such as Everything2, h2g2 (which was actually modeled after the Guide’s true intent, and created by Guide fans), and, of course, Wikipedia—and thanks to various mobile applications, versions of these tomes can be carried complete within hand-held devices such as the iPhone with no Internet connectivity required. (And, conversely, thanks to always-on Internet, people can essentially carry the entire Internet in their pockets and be just as likely to find something useful on that as they could in the “real” Guide of the Adams stories.)

The late Douglas Adams was enthralled by the Palm Pilot and excited by the way its memory capacity kept improving. He was looking forward to a day when a Guide really could be carried in one’s pocket. It’s a shame he’s not around now to see how well his vision of a “pocket guide to everything” has been coming true. I have little doubt he would find baffling the idea of a “Guide” that only excerpted his own books, rather than fulfilling the function he foresaw for such a device.

In the 1990s, the Hitchhiker’s Guide series became one of the first commercial e-books (created as a Hypercard stack by Criterion founder Bob Stein).


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