Why the Net Matters: How the Internet Will Save Civilization – iPad App of the Week

Why the Net Matters: How the Internet Will Save Civilization – iPad App of the Week

This is a regular feature of the blog looking at the various iPhone and iPad Apps available. Some of the apps will be useful for those involved in learning technologies, others will be useful in improving the way in which you work, whilst a few will be just plain fun! Some will be free, others will cost a little and one or two will be what some will think is quite expensive.

This week’s App is Why the Net Matters: How the Internet Will Save Civilization.

This groundbreaking app from bestselling author David Eagleman is a new way to experience narrative non-fiction, only available on the iPad.

The app allows the user to access each chapter at random using a unique navigational interface. Once in a chapter you can pull out to see where you are in the course of the argument, and see how far you have progressed through the content.

Each chapter contains tailor-made chunks of text with dozens of images, videos, webpages and interactive 3D models. These can be enjoyed alongside the text, or on their own once the text is swiped away in landscape mode.

Fully readable and adaptable to portrait or landscape, the app uses all the functionality familiar from iBooks such as page swiping and a bottom navigational bar, but re-configures it into a new experience that brings the content alive.

David Eagleman has spent years researching this topic and plans to release regular updates so that the information is current, and the content evolves.


I am not sure I can recommend this app, the main reason I bought it was to see how a book could work on the iPad away from the iBooks or Kindle style interface. In that this book does work, the interface is easy to use and you can move from one section to another with ease. The book makes good use of images, diagrams, animations and video.

The author has indicated that he will “update” the book as time goes on. In other words the book will evolve over time.

You can copy (therefore making it easy to cite) from the book.

On other book applications this is very difficult if not impossible. Though even I am not sure how to cite from a book such as this one. This is something that I need to look into further, but as more and more “virtual” books like this are published, the more we in the academic community will need a consistent way of citing such tomes.

So from a technical perspective I think the book works. As for the content? Well I thought it was interesting, but the topic is something you are interested in or not.

Update: this app is no longer available.

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