Recently William Gibson has made some sound comments about the state of exposition in novels. The core of it is simply that with the world wide web always at hand you don’t really have to explain all that much, everything is within reach through services like Google.
Now this goes for novels, but it’s applicable on other media as well. Any print media to day is off course effected, but when they go digital the power or the open footnote, that is the web, will be even more prominent. Click on the word to get to the authors preferred explanation (traditional footnote), go to wikipedia (outsourced footnote) or search for it on your own (footwhat?). You can also easily search a book for any occurrence of a particular word or phrase. In some cases, and this is evolving, you can make notes in a text and share it with others, contributing to the clarity and interpretation of a corpus. On the web you can illustrate a sequence in a book by filming it, you can discuss it with other readers and your conversation can be searchable by yet more readers.
For some this new way of reading isn’t an appealing progress at all, but the tools are available, and will just get better.
Where all this might be true for traditional print media, cinema goers on the other hand are not really encouraged to sit with their noses in their Smart Phones or lap tops yet, quite the opposite. “Remember to turn off your mobile phone!” But for how long is this going to be true? New libraries try to work around the phone-problem with smart architecture, maybe cinemas will use this differently as well? With the new 3D-goggles that everyone need to wear to enjoy the most recent block busters, how long will it take until people start using AR-goggels with the possibility to overlay the image on the screen with their own information, acquired from the web? Regardless connectivity is changing how we read, and one upside might be that we will see less of cumbersome exposition.