Reading beyond paper

Information printed on paper is static, unconnected, and limited in how much it can be shared and stored. Luckily for us, reading has gone digital. So let’s take advantage of these digital properties to make us more effective, efficient, and knowledgeable readers.

Books and newspapers have democratized information and education, giving everyday people access to vast amounts of knowledge. In the last ten years, much of our reading consumption has moved off printed paper and into digital formats. And yet the way we think about reading hasn’t changed much.

This project explored how we take advantage of the digital properties of modern reading, focused specifically on the reading you do to be informed.


There are two main types of reading - the reading you do for entertainment and the reading you do to be informed. When you’re reading to be informed, your goal is to gain knowledge or expertise. This type of reading is not passive consumption but involves active engagement with the information. You may be highlighting, taking notes, or writing down thoughts. There will be spots where you slow down and read very carefully and others where you skip over whole sections. Since you’re looking for knowledge, your reading on this topic is probably going to go beyond this one book or article. Most importantly, reading is itself is not the end goal. You’ll want to do something with this information - share it, build on it, incorporated into your own work.


This project looked at many ways that digital reading could help us be better active readers. We explored ideas around discovering new information, reading more efficiently, and tracking your knowledge on any one topic.


Working with initial research into how and why people read to be informed, we created a series of sketches that brainstormed possible ways to solve these problems. After evaluation, some of the best ideas were combined and refined into initial concepts. Working with a multidisciplinary team, these concepts were prototyped, tested, and improved.


The final result of this work was an active reading product, developed with a full team to production. As with most products, the final result only used a small portion of our initial ideas. To retain these ideas we created an envisioning video and several new product pitches. These went beyond reading to AI librarians, interactive documents, and social learning.