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'The Hobbit 2.0' -- How mobile technology would improve J. R. R. Tolkien's famous work

GPS, real-time data, a website, wireless networks would make life in 'The Hobbit' so much easier

By , Network World
December 14, 2012 03:13 PM ET
The Hobbit 2.0
Credit: Stephen Sauer

Network World - "The Hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien's famous story of which the movie version opens Dec. 14, was first published in 1937. The world of Middle Earth was set in an indeterminate time, but looked remarkably like an idealized early 19th-century England, though well-stocked with wizards, dwarfs, elves, dragons, trolls, goblins and of course hobbits. But techwise, it was, and is, the Stone Age of Middle Dearth.

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If he was alive today, Tolkien would be creating content on an iPad, crowd-sourcing secondary characters, tweeting arcane but cool references to obscure Anglo-Saxon and Nordic narratives, contributing heavily to Wikipedia, posting photos of his English garden to a Flickr account, and texting Peter Jackson.

And writing "The Hobbit 2.0" ...

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort super-insulated. It had a perfectly round polyethylene foam core fiberglass door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with paneled walls in sustainably sourced mango hardwood, and floors tiled and carpeted in chemical-free hemp (certified woven without use of child labor), provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats, for the hobbit was fond of visitors.

... This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure ...

... What is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People Average Sized People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little height-challenged people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves Persons of Short Stature (POSS). Hobbits ... are inclined to be fat in the stomach but still very fit; ... wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity mellow laughs (especially after a Dietary Guidelines for Middle Earthers-based dinner, which they have twice just once a day when they can get it, with healthy snacks between meals).

Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and Bilbo set down his Kindle Fire eReader, on which he was perusing the non-fiction bestseller "A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five," and went to the door. "It's about time you arrived," he said.

There stood a dwarf POSS, a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his dark-green hood. He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and as he turned around, Bilbo held up a smartphone with 10-megapixel camera and LED flash and snapped his picture, leaving the stunned POSS blinking. The facial recognition app quickly identified his visitor. "You're Dwalin, at my service, I'm sure," said Bilbo briskly. "Go into the parlour and help yourself to tea and cakes.

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