Life on Earth

[vimeo w=400&h=300]

I’ve spent the past week or so exploring e-books, in preparation for the creation of the enhanced electronic version of TRACKING TRASH. Among the gems I’ve discovered so far is E.O. Wilson’s LIFE ON EARTH. What is available now is only an introduction to the enhanced textbook that will eventually be available, but the introduction is free–and stunning–so I recommend checking it out if you have the devices to do so.

To me, LIFE ON EARTH is an incredibly well-done glimpse into exactly what an enhanced e-book can do. As a codex-clutching skeptic, I thought I’d never be converted. Oh, my. If I’m not converted, I’m at least intrigued. This is not the textbook of old. It includes the same information, but presented in engaging ways that enhance understanding and didn’t for a moment distract me as a reader. There is footage of E.O. Wilson in the field, animations of cellular components, stunning full color image galleries, and more, all accessible (or not) as often as you like. Of all the e-books I’ve explored so far, the textbook genre is the one in which the electronic format makes the most sense.

Also? I think E.O. Wilson is a national treasure. In a short video interview introducing the chapter on small creatures, which you can see above, he explains why he has spent a lifetime studying ants. They are abundant and easy to find, he explains, simple to study and intensely interesting. And then, with a boyish chuckle that melts the part of me that so admires passion, he adds “I honestly cannot understand why most people don’t study ants!”

Me either, Mr. Wilson. Me, either.