Productive reading in the 21st Century
The Lap Pilot is designed to be an indispensable aid for those engaged in the intensive and continual information-gathering and pattern recognition that will be essential activities for 21st century businesses.
Today -- and for the foreseeable future -- this information and these patterns are transmitted and received through the written word. The designers of the Lap Pilot recognized that reality and have created a device that is optimized to convey and interpret written documents.
The Act of Reading
At its most basic level, reading is the mental process of discerning meaning from a collection of symbols inscribed on a surface. In today's business world, the symbols are usually those of the Latin alphabet, formed to produce words from the English language.
The Lap Pilot is designed to help the user out at this most basic level. The Optional Module contains dedicated PC card slots for a dictionary/thesaurus card and an encyclopedia card, allowing users to instantly discover more about any unfamiliar word. One swipe with the stencil and the dictionary definition of the word (and an encyclopedia article, if applicable) is shown on the right-hand screen.
The Types of Reading
According to Mortimer Adler, the main editor of the University of Chicago's famed "Great Books" series, there are three main types of reading [Ad72]:
The Lap Pilot is geared toward helping readers of the second kind. (Certainly one can do the first and third kinds of reading with the Lap Pilot, but a smaller, hand-held machine would be more beneficial.) Its strengths are in its ability to help its user swiftly and easily acquire, navigate through, and annotate large amounts of information.
The Levels of Reading
In addition to separating the act of reading into types, Adler also separated in into levels, with each level being a superior superset of the level that preceded it:
The Lap Pilot's benefits for the elementary reader are laid out above. For the inspectional reader, the Lap Pilot offers a fast Find command, indexing capability, and user-controlled scroll speed. For the analytical reader, the Lap Pilot provides a touch screen and annotation storage layer to allow users to write marginalia "on" the text, as well as in unlimited blank space at the beginning and end of chapters.
But it is for syntopical readers that the Lap Pilot, with its hypertext capability, brings its greatest benefits. Understanding a book for its own sake is of less interest to a business professional than being able to understand what it says about a particular subject and then being able to compare that to what other texts say. With its ability to link between different texts and even between different marginalia, the Lap Pilot allows its users to build a broad overview of any subject for which digital material is available.
For people whose jobs depend on their ability to read and comprehend large amounts of information quickly, there is no finer tool than the Lap Pilot.