Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Rise of the Best-Celler: Japanese Youth Are Wild about Cell Phone Novels, Raising Questions about Our Own Resistance to the Technology as a Learning Tool

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Rise of the Best-Celler: Japanese Youth Are Wild about Cell Phone Novels, Raising Questions about Our Own Resistance to the Technology as a Learning Tool

Article excerpt

THE NEWS OUT OF JAPAN IS THAT A new art form is blooming. According to a recent article in The New York Times, novels tapped out on cell phones are moving from the web to print, and are becoming wildly popular. "Of last year's 10 best-selling novels [in Japan]," the Times story reports, "five were originally cell phone novels, mostly love stories written in the short sentences characteristic of text messaging."

Aside from inspiring the usual navelgazing about what this means for traditional novels and their authors, this phenomenon sparks a number of other thoughts. The first is how the technology is having such a dramatic effect on literacy in Japan. More than 1 million cell phone novels are now listed on the Japanese website Maho no i-rando, and it seems young people in Japan read these books on their cell phones even though they are available on computers.

Chiaki Ishihara, a professor at Japan's Waseda University and a literature expert who has studied cell phone novels, says of the new generation of Japanese: "It's not that they had a desire to write and that the cell phone happened to be there. The cell phone instilled in them a desire to write." Contrast that notion with the reception the technology gets in this country, where many school districts ban them from campus.

There is a debate within the genre on whether or not a cell phone novel written on a computer and published online is still a cell phone novel. The question is more than idle wrestling over semantics. Keiko Kanematsu, an editor at cell phone publisher Goma Books (www.goma-books. …

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