When I head out on a trip (business or personal), I look through the pile of magazines and journals that I have to see what I can take with me. I sometimes will even purchase a new (different) magazine for the trip. I also check various e-book sites to see if there is something I'd like to download to my Sony Clie to read. Yes, I like reading e-books, although I generally read them while waiting for a meeting, etc., so I don't get through them quickly. (I have, however, read some very good books this way including Seth Godin's Unleashing the Ideavirus.) But what if I could also take some "digital assets" along that I wanted to view? Wouldn't it be interesting if I could download part of an digitized collection (e.g., Zuni art) to my laptop or PDA and then view it at my leisure?
The idea of someone downloading a part of an online exhibit raises immediate concerns about intellectual property control. There would also be some hardware and software aspects to be worked out. Perhaps there could be software that would put a time limit on my use of the exhibit and even prohibit me from abusing the items (e.g., copying). However, why not aim for this type of access? If I can borrow a book from the library and carry it with me, why not allow me to borrow digital assets to view at my leisure? If we want digitization to impact access to materials, then eventually we'll need to address how people can view these items digitally in a way that meshes with their lifestyles and "reading" (viewing) needs.