In 2007 I was on a design team that worked on the first generation Kindle e-book reader for amazon.com. The implications and import of the product were clear to the designers on the project and lead to hours of intense discussion and debate about its impact. It was obvious that we were on the cusp of a disruptive revolution in communication that was going to transform, and in some cases eradicate existing models and lead to the birth of unforeseen new modes of communication. Very soon after the Kindle’s launch and as various forms of digital communication continued to gain traction, discussions of “The Death of Print” became common.
At about the same time I inherited a portion of my grandfather’s library. Many of his books were filled with notations, comments, tick marks and translations. As I read his books and encountered his marginalia I gained profound insight into the thought process and interests of someone long gone. This experience made me even more aware of the unique qualities of the book as physical object. Within the landscape of intense debate about the transition and what we were losing or gaining as a result of it was one tangible example of a little- noticed but powerful feature that was unique to a technology and mode of communication in eclipse. The Pages Project was born out of the confluence of these experiences.
The goal of the project is to demonstrate the layered expansion of meaning and insight that occurs through the marginalia left by ordinary people within printed books.
Erik Schmitt, Berkeley, California, 2014