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A GROUP WEBLOG FOR TEXT AND MEDIUM: THEORY OF THE BOOK AND THE FUTURE OF READING ENG 577.

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April 29, 2009

Google's Settlement with the Author's Guild


If anyone is interested in where the Google Books settlement is at check out this update from Wired: DoJ Puts Google on Notice over Book Deal.
Posted by      nikolaus w. at 3:55 PM EDT
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Peer-reviewed online journal


Here's the latest issue of RaVon, the e-journal that we mentioned in seminar last week:


Begin forwarded message:

From: Michael Eberle-Sinatra
Date: April 29, 2009 8:37:30 AM EDT
To: NASSR-L@listserv.wvu.edu
Subject: [NASSR-L] New issue *Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net*
Reply-To: North American Society for the Study of Romanticism

============================================================== For unsubscription and other account requests, please begin by consulting the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list. Point your browser to http://publish.uwo.ca/~nassr/ then click on "NASSR-L" in the left-hand frame. ==============================================================

[apologies for cross-posting]

Dear all,
The latest issue of *Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net* is now available at: http://www.ravon.umontreal.ca.
Regards,
Michael Eberle-Sinatra and Dino Felluga, Editors

*Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net* 52 (November 2008)
Special issue on "Science, Technology and the Senses" - Guest-edited by Sibylle Erle and Laurie Garrison

ARTICLES:
- Sibylle Erle (Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln): 'Blake, Colour and the Truchsessian Gallery: Modelling the Mind and Liberating the Observer'
- Kelly Grovier (The University of Wales, Aberystwyth): '"Paradoxes of the Panoscope": "Walking" Stewart and the Making of Keats's Ambivalent Imagination'
- Laurie Garrison (University of Lincoln): 'Imperial Vision in the Arctic: Fleeting Looks and Pleasurable Distractions in Barker?s Panorama and Shelley?s Frankenstein'
- Gavin Budge (University of Hertfordshire): 'The Hero as Seer: Character, Perception and Cultural Health in Carlyle'?
- Verity Hunt (University of Reading): 'Raising a Modern Ghost: The Magic Lantern and the Persistence of Wonder in the Victorian Education of the Senses'

REVIEWS:
- Gillen D?Arcy Wood (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): 'James Heffernan. Cultivating Picturacy: Visual Art and Verbal Interventions'?
- Marie Mulvey-Roberts (University of the West of England, Bristol): 'Wil Verhoeven. Gilbert Imlay: Citizen of the World'?
- Nicholas Halmi (University of Washington): 'Thomas Pfau. Romantic Moods: Paranoia, Trauma, and Melancholy, 1790?1840'?
- Daniel Cook (University of Cambridge): 'Tilar J. Mazzeo. Plagiarism and Literary Property in the Romantic Period'?
- Ihsen Hachaichi (Université de Montréal): 'Florence Gaillet-de Chezelles. Wordsworth et la Marche: Parcours poétique et esthétique'?
- Jason R. Rudy (University of Maryland): 'Stephanie Kuduk Weiner. Republican Politics and English Poetry, 1789-1874'
- Tamara Ketabgian (Beloit College): 'Richard Menke. Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems'?
- Judith Stoddart (Michigan State University): 'Sharon Aronofsky Weltman. Performing the Victorian: John Ruskin and Identity in Theater, Science, and Education'?
- Julia Kent (American University of Beirut): 'David Payne. The Reenchantment of Nineteenth-Century Fiction: Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot'
- Katherine Newey (University of Birmingham): 'John Stokes. The French Actress and her English Audience'
- Helen Rogers (Liverpool John Moores University): 'Carolyn Steedman. Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age'
- Julia F. Saville (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): 'Ana Parejo Vadillo. Women Poets and Urban Aestheticism: Passengers of Modernity'
- Eitan Bar-Yosef (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel): 'Aamir R. Mufti. Enlightenment in the Colony. The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture'
-----------------------------------
Dr. Michael Eberle-Sinatra, Associate Professor
http://web.mac.com/meberlesinatra
-----------------------------------
- President *Synergies* http://www.synergiescanada.org
- Vice-President (Outreach) *Society of Digital Humanities* http://www.sdh-semi.org
- Founding Editor *Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net* (RaVoN) http://www.ravon.umontreal.ca
- Secretary-Treasurer *Canadian Association of Learned Journals* http://www.calj-acrs.ca/
-----------------------------------
Departement d'etudes anglaises
Universite de Montreal
CP 6128, Station Centre-ville
Montreal, Quebec H3C3J7 - Canada
Tel: (514) 343-6149 - Fax: (514) 343-6443
-----------------------------------
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April 28, 2009

Single authorship vs collaborative scholarship


Thinking of the effects of digital media on authoring (and that one-to-one "private" relationship that Birkerts features in his laments):
http://digitalscholarship.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/collaborative-authorship-in-the-humanities/
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Kurzweil's Magic Lenses


Remember Kurzweil's speculation about lenses that would provide you with map overlays and the names of people at parties? Check out this brief article by Anne Eisenberg from Sunday's NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/business/26novel.html?_r=1
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April 27, 2009

The Postmodernism Generator


This essays posted on this site are the product of a computer algorithm, entirely fabricated and meaningless. This guy wrote a program to compile ideas, vocab, and grammar to replicate that quintessential postmodern essay feel. Get to the bottom of the page and there's the disclaimer: "The essay you have just seen is completely meaningless and was randomly generated by the Postmodernism Generator. To generate another essay, follow this link."

The Postmodernism Generator

Every time you load the page it's a different "essay." Thought you'd get a kick out of it, 'cause every now and then we all wonder if the material our professors have us read could actually be random compilations of the most obscure "words" passed off as deep thought.
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April 23, 2009

Prosthetic arms


http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10217855-76.html

Check out the video from 60 minutes
Posted by      Luke O. at 2:21 PM EDT

further reading (sadly, pun intended)


Some blog posts that have come to my attention today...

Two posts by Paul Kei Matsuda, both of which relate to the problem faced by graduate students in particular: having to "read everything." In these posts, he outlines some of his personal reading/note-taking strategies, and the development of mental intertextual maps.

http://www.public.asu.edu/~pmatsuda/2009/04/how-to-read-everything.html
http://www.public.asu.edu/~pmatsuda/2006/09/read-everything-again.html

Two other posts by Brian J. McNely focus on "ambient research," which he describes as "a framework and approach to research that is enveloping, atmospheric, ubiquitous, and unflinchingly mutable."

The first post, is a brief "sketch the parameters of ambient research as I currently understand them, discussing the infrastructures that enable legitimate and productive research activity that is streaming, aggregable, searchable, and conversational."
http://5000.blogspot.com/2009/03/infrastructures-of-ambient-research.html

The second draws on work in cognitive science and considers "the potential of ambient research for generative productivity and cognitive recursion in my own field and beyond." (McNely also discusses Steven Johnson's use of the program Devonthink to write his books, which just sounds like a really cool toy/tool.)
http://5000.blogspot.com/2009/03/ambient-research-recursion-and-rws.html
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April 22, 2009

Charlie Rose Interview: Problems with Extending Life Expectancy


Charlie Rose interviews Malcolm Gladwell in 1996 about an article in the New Yorker about the trouble's we'll face if we succeed in extending life expectancy.

At first, he comes off as a nay-sayer, but he makes raises some significant (if grim) issues.

Charlie Rose interview with Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell recently published Outliers about what separates successful people from everyone else,
another good interview with Charlie Rose. He touches on the Beatles, Tiger Woods, and Bill Gates. I can't get over how his hair has grown in 12 years. He obviously stopped cutting it around 1996.
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'Longest copyright ... ever'


From SlashDot.org: "The BBC is reporting that the United Nations' World Digital Library has gone online with an initial offering of 1,200 ancient manuscripts, parchments and documents. ... Astonishingly, the collection is covered by numerous copyright laws, according to the legal page. Use of material from a given country is subject to whatever restrictions that country places, in addition to any local and international copyright laws. With some of the contributions being over 8,000 years old, this has to be the longest copyright extension ever offered. There is nothing on whether the original artists get royalties, however."
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April 20, 2009

ban comic sans


a fun video clip about the font comic sans...

http://bancomicsans.com/home.html
Posted by      Rachel L. at 9:59 PM EDT
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My biggest association with Comic Sans involves AIM and college. (AOL Instant Messager) One of my semi-friends had his font set at Comic Sans. His screenname was Batman1600 because he got a 1600 on the SAT, and he thought he was really cool, like Batman. He was arrogant and immature, and I eventually stopped being friends with him. So, I attach that kind of persona and characterization with Comic Sans!!!
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April 19, 2009

Alternate use of a printer


Printer as a musical instrument!



Description on Youtube:

"There are millions of computers sitting idle at home consuming fantom electricity. Let's see where all that power is going. This is dedicated to all fans of Queen and hey let's not forget about Mike Myers and Dana Carvey of Wayne's World.
Please note no effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?)
Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar
8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass
3.5 inch Harddrive as the gong
HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 seperate times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30.

Keep in mind these are scanners and floppy dirves and not musical instruments."
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on the theme of music machines...

music via tesla coils: http://rhizome.org/editorial/2375

Roland Olbeter's "Sound Machines":
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April 18, 2009

Plastic Logic e-reader




The other week in class Chad Post mentioned the Plastic Logic e-reader, which is being released in a year or so. It's more open than the Kindle in that it can display a variety of content and file types (pdf, Word, Excel), and it has a flexible display that's quite different from the Kindle's. It's being marketed to students and business executives as well as casual readers.

A few links . . .

Product site: http://www.plasticlogic.com/product.html

TeleRead blog post: http://www.teleread.org/2008/09/11/plastic-logics-kindle-killer-for-execs-students-or-both-and-what-about-recreational-readers/

YouTube videos: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%22plastic+logic%22
Posted by      Peter Z. at 5:48 PM EDT
Tags: e-readers

April 15, 2009

Nintendo on Inside Edition


This clip of Inside Edition "reporting" on a new-fangled craze called "Ninetendo" is pretty funny.

http://dorkyearbook.com/post/96605057/inside-edition-has-some-tough-question-for
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April 13, 2009

transcriptions: Stephen Crane


Just in case you sometimes feel that we are surely the only people in the world who could possibly care about transcriptions from handwriting, there's this bit from today's scholarly editing list-serv--about Stephen Crane, the American writer, author of Red Badge of Courage among other things:


Subject: question about handwriting

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, Stephen Crane occasionally used an apostrophe in the middle of words, as in

F'our
F'riend
F'eb [as in the abbreviation for "February"]

Has anyone seen this use before, and do you know what it means?

Paul Sorrentino (psorrent@vt.edu)
Virginia Tech
Posted by      Morris E. at 7:15 AM EDT

transcriptions: Stephen Crane


Just in case you sometimes feel that we are surely the only people in the world who could possibly care about transcriptions from handwriting, there's this bit from today's scholarly editing list-serv--about Stephen Crane, the American writer, author of Red Badge of Courage among other things:


Subject: question about handwriting

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, Stephen Crane occasionally used an apostrophe in the middle of words, as in

F'our
F'riend
F'eb [as in the abbreviation for "February"]

Has anyone seen this use before, and do you know what it means?

Paul Sorrentino (psorrent@vt.edu)
Virginia Tech
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April 11, 2009

Colbert Report Recent Clips on Newspaper Deaths


This one is from only a few days ago, on April 8th:

This Colbert Report clip of Phil Bronstein (editor-at-large of Hearst Newspapers and the SF Chronicle) specifically addresses how the internet is affecting newspapers. Mr. Bronstein says that Google and AOL are hurting newspapers because people are able to access free news without going directly to the newspaper's website.

Also, Colbert and Bronstein refer to how the music industry has shifted because of mp3s, Napster, and then iPods, and how newspapers might be able emulate that model, surviving despite free online news proliferation. Bronstein points out that people face jail if they download music illegally, and wonders whether people should go to jail for not paying for news content. Colbert mentions the First Amendment, in response.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/224067/april-08-2009/phil-bronstein

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Phil Bronstein
colbertnation.com
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This one is from March 31st, and mostly just funny:

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/223281/march-31-2009/better-know-a-lobby---newspaper-lobby

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a Lobby - Newspaper Lobby
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

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April 10, 2009

Printer that Prints Itself


Thought this might be interesting in terms of open source and printing... Printer Prints Itself.
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April 9, 2009

Two images of Mosaic (The first web browser)


Here are two images of Mosaic, the first web-browser.

I can't make it upload!

I guess I am too old.
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Vannevar Bush


Cleaner image of the Memex.
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Vannevar Bush


Memex
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Vannevar Bush


"Scientist of the Future"
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April 8, 2009

"An illuminated book for the digital age"


if:book's tribute to Blake and experiment in multimedia book forms:

http://futureofthebook.org.uk/blake/book.html
Posted by      Rachel L. at 3:16 PM EDT

April 7, 2009

hm...a vook?


From the NYT:

"Bradley Inman wants to create great fiction, dramatic online video and compelling Twitter stream ? and then roll them all into a multimedia hybrid that is tailored to the rapidly growing number of digital reading devices. Mr. Inman, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, calls this digital amalgam a ?Vook,? (vook.tv) and the fledgling company he has created with that name just might represent a possible future for the beleaguered book industry."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/business/05stream.html?_r=1
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April 5, 2009

Kindles and Libraries


Last week we spoke a little bit about how libraries would make use of Kindles. It looks like at least one library already tried: A New Jersey Library Starts Lending Kindles. That began in 2007, with the first Kindle, but apparently the practice of sharing a Kindle loaded with e-books violates Amazon's terms of service.

So the question of how to make e-readers viable beyond personal use is still up in the air. There is a Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos from 2007 in which Bezos mentions e-readers and libraries. He says that working out relationships with libraries ?is not on our roadmap.? It?s a long interview, but Bezos makes some interesting points, including some thoughts from the publishing side (e.g. books never go out of print, and publishers will never have to guess at initial print runs) and that Amazon has always recognized that ?you can?t out-book the book.?

Sorry, that interview link isn't working. It's here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8784#comment
Posted by      Peter Z. at 6:51 PM EDT
Tags: kindle
displaying most recent comments (1 ommitted) | Comments (4)
  Morris Eaves  says:
But I wonder if the same dilemma doesn't arise with all such large-capacity storage devices--anybody know of a library that lends iPods? So are libraries stuck with the single-copy model? The DVD, the book, etc.
Posted on Mon, 6 Apr 2009 3:18 AM EDT by Morris E.
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April 4, 2009

The Screen vs. The Page, Rosen-style


Rosen?s War:
The Screen vs. The Page


    Rosen points out numerous dangerous qualities of the Kindle that make the possibility of its replacement of books sound disastrous.
     I am noticing a fear of fragmentation. Rosen (as well as other writers we?ve been reading) seems to condemn the way that digital technology makes it possible to extract bits and parts of literary texts, and then for people browsing to discover these snippets, and potentially never read the rest of the text or engage with the complex context the pieces come from. Rosen explicitly condemns Kevin Kelly?s article that sees digital books as offering a new way to compile a personal library or bookshelf, the way we have our own playlists of songs in mp3 form that we can arrange into our own personal albums. Why is this so threatening? It takes authored works, breaks them down, and then the rearrangement makes it an entirely new piece of art or literature. This reordering process is what we discussed with Jeff Glover in class, and perhaps Rosen is communicating a similar disgust toward what Jeff noticed about Franklin?s passage: that the reordering emphasizes mechanical form and the act of arrangement over what the substance of the text actually says. Perhaps this runs the risk of emphasizing the ?body? of a literary piece of art over its ?soul.? It seems like this cuts to the central fear underlying the resistance to e-books, digital literacy, and the internet in general: that we?re going to lose the deep, meaningful, meditative joy and self-expansion that we can experience through reading a book. Personally, I think that neither reading a physical book NOR reading from a screen have the market cornered on the joy and transformation that grows out of deep engagement with language. It happens in both places, and there are loads and loads of people that are both ?of the screen? and ?of the book.? One great example of this is?.you guys! Me! All of us! Graduate students and undergraduate students are the rising stars, and look at us?.not all of us are fully digitally literate?.but we definitely are all book-familiar. One thing Rosen points out that is accurate is that parents are not going to start reading children?s books from a screen or Kindle. Kids are going to grow up with books, no matter how much there is to do on a screen involving buttons.
     Example of fear of fragmentation: We see a fear of fragmentation blare loud and clear at the end of Rosen?s article. Rosen writes, ?The paper book, the tool that built modernity, is to be phased out in favor of fractured, unfixed information? (emphasis added). Why is a collage of pieces of information so frightful? Also, what does she mean by modernity, here? She employs the same kind of assumptions we discussed before ?the superiority of written language in books as opposed to oral culture and epic poems (like Homer?s works!) that were experienced and transferred aurally.

     Rosen makes the triumph of the screen over the page so dramatic and inevitable, and offers her article as a kind of wakeup call. She doesn?t acknowledge, however, that if things really are becoming so extreme (people engaging with screens and spending less and less time concentrating on the totality of a printed book) than there will probably be a backlash. I know from my personal obsession with the screen (my laptop, my online adventures, my facebook addiction, etc) that when I step away from the computer and go outside and dig in my garden or read in bed?.I feel profoundly relieved. Getting all entangled and wound up in the digital world of screens leads, in my opinion, to wanting some kind of retreat into something completely different, more tactile and 3-dimensional, like yoga, absorption in a book, or getting my hands covered in wet soil and worms.

     I also take MAJOR issue with Rosen?s use of literary canon minority-inclusion-advocates as an analogy for digital literary enthusiasts.

She writes:
      "Digital literacy?s boosters are not unlike the people who were swept up in the multiculturalism fad of the 1980s and 1990s. Intent on encouraging a diversity of viewpoints, they initially argued for supplementing the canon so that it acknowledged the intellectual contribution of women and minorities. But like multiculturalism, which soon changed its focus from broadening the canon to eviscerating it by purging the contributions of ?dead white males,? digital literacy?s advocates increasingly speak of replacing, rather than supplementing, print literacy."

There are so many things wrong with this analogy that I hardly know where to begin. First of all, her analogy implies that dead-white-male authored literature is more serious than literature written by women or minorities. (serious printed books are to superficial flashy screens as dead white male books are to texts written by women and minorities) Also, is her caricature of canon evolution even accurate, here? Who, exactly, advocates removal of dead white men from the canon? In my experience, it seems like we have, instead, began to engage in scholarship that treats dead-white-male texts with a revisionist eye. Her portrayal here of canon issues is extreme and misleading, but perhaps her analogy is telling because it also exposes how extreme and exaggerated her portrayal of the ?page versus screen war? is.
Posted by      Hilarie L. at 1:33 PM EDT
Tags: hilarie

April 3, 2009

readers boycotting kindle titles higher than 9.99


Posted by      Rachel L. at 10:43 AM EDT

Bookeen--Speaking of the Kindle


From what I can tell, the Euro-competition with the Kindle is Bookeen's Cybook Gen3 ("La lecture en liberte" "Read in freedom").
http://www.bookeen.com/ebook/ebook-reading-device.aspx
I saw one (but it was fastened to its display mount, so I couldn't fondle it) a few days ago at a bookstore. Looks much the same, though it has a different set of features. Haven't seen anything to suggest how successful it's been.
Posted by      Morris E. at 4:56 AM EDT
  Hilarie C Lloyd, J.D.  says:
I think the Cybook is much prettier than the Kindle! The Cybook looks much more sleek, like an iPhone. The Kindle looks like one of those old electronic hand held dictionary / thesauruses, with the boring white buttons.


Posted on Sat, 11 Apr 2009 1:11 AM EDT by Hilarie L.
  Hilarie C Lloyd, J.D.  says:
VERSUS the Kindle:


Posted on Sat, 11 Apr 2009 1:12 AM EDT by Hilarie L.
  Hilarie C Lloyd, J.D.  says:
Sorry about the enormous images I keep posting in comments. How the heck did they get so huge? Good grief.
Posted on Sat, 11 Apr 2009 1:13 AM EDT by Hilarie L.

April 2, 2009

MC Lars and the iGeneration!


Here is a song that my ex-husband put on a mix cd for me, back around 2005-ish. I was listening to it in the car on my way home from class, and wanting you all to hear it! The Kindle-pushers want us to become the e-book generation! Here is the link to the song (free mp3) and the lyrics are listed below.

http://www.mclars.com/mp3s/albums/2004%20-%20the%20laptop%20ep/01%20iGeneration.mp3

"iGeneration"
lyrics by MC Lars
music by MC Lars, Damondrick Jack and Piebald

And people tried to put us down,
when iTunes bumped a post-Cold War sound.
My generation sat the mecca of malls,
Times Square, I'm there, Viacom installs.
So we hit the net while the Trade Center fell,
New York met Hollywood, we ran like hell.
No Vietnam for us, yo, Iraq it's on.
So who agree upon this cowboy Genghis Khan?
The choice made, baby. Hey we'd take it back,
logged in dropped out, MTV took track.
They sold it back to us and claimed no correlation.
The iMac, iPod, iGeneration.
And I'm waiting for the day we can get out.
The world is ours, that's the story no doubt.
Want to be more info super highway traffic,
want to be more than a walking demographic!

CHORUS
"Hey! You're part of it." Talking about the iGeneration.
"Yeah! You're part of it." Talking about my iGeneration.

See the iGeneration knew organization meant optimization and unification,
When imagination gave participation in creation of culture a manifestation.
The Berlin Wall fell and out we came, the post-Cold War kids laid claim to AIM.
LOL, OMG, yo, BRB. Space, colon, dash, closed parenthesis.
We sat at our laptops and typed away, and found that we each had something to say.
Web-logged our fears, our hopes and dreams. Individuated by digital means.
Fiber optic lenses, DVD, Coca Cola, Disney and Mickey D's.
Flat mass culture, the norm that took hold, I hope I die before I get sold.

REPEAT CHORUS

This is the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T ge-na-ra-tion, see?
This is the I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T ge-na-ra-tion, see?

REPEAT CHORUS

-------------

Also, on the same cd is a fairly awesome song about "The Raven" by Poe. You gotta listen to that one, too! I love it.

http://mclars.com/mp3s/albums/2004%20-%20the%20laptop%20ep/07%20Mr%20Raven.mp3
Posted by      Hilarie L. at 8:27 PM EDT
Tags: hilarie, mp3s
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Summaries


The once and Future E-book: On Reading in the Digital Age by John Siracusa

Siracusa discusses the difficulties associated with the ebook market and his utter frustration with the ?ignorant masses? that won?t just submit to the ?inevitable idea? of ebooks replacing bound books. Particularly, he discusses the ?unjustly slow? growth of the market, and the inability of e-book sellers to compete, even today. Siracusa manages to gracefully capture the undeniable fact that ?people don?t get e-books? in the tone of an angsty 16-year old, under the façade of a resentful failed entrepreneur.

Siracusa claims? optical superiority of paper is irrelevant.? His argument is that people spend large amounts of time reading off of screens with poor resolution, and that their reluctance to read longer material on similar screens is merely a reluctance to change mediums and an adherence to the notion that screen technology remains poor enough to adversely affect our reading experience.

When it comes to reading devices, many complain of its falsely purporting book-like qualities, particularly focusing on size, battery life, and screen issues. Siracusa drives home the notion that most of the public?s reluctance to ?e-books? stems from that very name. The word ?book? carries with it the baggage and associations with all other manifestations of the word. What then is one supposed to call the text of a novel transferred into the digital medium? I was slightly confused by this.

Siracusa discusses the inevitable advantages that ebooks hold, including the ease of space, how a digital medium allows for ease of linking passages, taking notes. He is very critical of Digital Rights Management, suggesting that does more harm that it does good. By attempting to prevent piracy it constrains honest consumers by limiting what they can do with purchased material under the threat of criminal prosecution.

Siracusa argues for the benefits of the publishers in utilizing the ebook medium, cutting down on the cost of shipping, book destruction. Much reluctance comes from publishers afraid of piracy and the example taken from the Music industries collapse. However, Siracusa argues that whether or not an ebook format becomes standard, piracy of books exists and will continue to exist (e.g. Harry Potter).

From a publisher?s perspective, there is little downside. Siracusa discusses Apple?s reluctance to pick up on the ebook market, quoting Steve Jobs, who claimed ?no one reads anymore,? so why bother? He suggests that the kindle is an ill-fated attempt most likely to be trumped by apple, once they can successfully incorporate e-reading in a multimedia device like the iphone (though I believe the Kindle format is now available for the iphone? Correct me if I?m wrong.)

Siracusa is a huge proponent of the ebook format, and having revealed his background as working for an early ebook company, his article reads as a staunch defense of the medium, a doctrine of the inevitability of its replacement of paperback books, and a pushy sales pitch. I was left with the similar feeling one has after shutting the door on a verbose bible salesman.

Resisting the Kindle by Steve Birkets

Birkets article is quite critical of Amazon?s Kindle, suggesting that it might reshape the way we conceive history. He particularly attaches a lot of meaning to the history bound up in the physical presence of the book saying, ?These structures evolved over centuries in ways that map our collective endeavor to understand and express our world.? However, Birkets does not speak of previous methods which similarly embody this same endeavor, i.e. scrolls, oral culture, etc. Birkets especially fears that the kindle format will lead to the leveling of literature?s and the humanities? content to one medium controlled and dictated by a corporate enterprise. He also worries that with the loss of ?physical adjacency? of texts and under the influence of ?info-culture,? that authors and their work will become increasingly dehistoricized and ?fragmented into bits of information.? Birkets suggests that the context of the book, the author, the context of the text?s publishing, and their place in history will be lost in the mix of this fragmentation.

Sebastian Mary Will the real ipod for reading stand up now please?

Sebastian like Birkets sees a problem in the loss of the physical qualities of the book, however, makes a suggestion that the iPod?s potential as ebook could be utilized in a different way, more applicable to the rapidity and ephemera of internet culture.
He suggests that the mistake lies within the ?e-reader being treated as though it is a viable form of long-form writing.? However, following the model of the music industry and song by song purchasing, a company, such as apple might utilize text in micro-units. It would, however, seem to be impossible to break down a book and sell it chapter by chapter sucessfully, unless they could serve as individual units,like a collection of essays. Sebastian sees a different application of the ebook on ipod notion, suggesting that a more reasonable, useful tool would be to utilize short form storage in order to avoid ?link rot? and the infallibility of the web to consistently maintain information in the place in which it was initially discovered.

People of the Screen by Christine Rosen.
Rosen approaches the ebook with reason, suggesting that it is inevitable that the ebook will become a popular medium. However, the staunch claims that it will completely replace the book, and the reactionary claim that it must completely be avoided are counterproductive. She is critical of authors like Siracusa, and shreds proponents of video games as learning tools. Pointing out that if one suggests that you cannot ?screw up? reading a Dostoevsky novel, you have quite a narrow, ignorant view of what reading entails. She critiques the Kindle, saying that the distractive elements associated with internet connection and Wikipedia impinge upon the reading process. She seems in agreement with other critics that the kindle should not be used to replace books as learning tools for children.
Posted by      Luke O. at 1:59 PM EDT

My responses to the Digital Page


Brown, Mandy. ?In Defense of Readers.?

I agree with much of what Ms. Brown has to say and I appreciate her being succinct in her saying it. In many ways she has pinpointed exactly what it is that a reader does and, indeed, who a reader is. She is right when she says, ?The best readers are obstinate.? Yes, the best readers are stubborn and determined to ?mine? the text in which they are enveloped. She is also correct when she talks about readers and reading being a solitary thing. Yet, I think that Ms. Brown misses the mark in assuming that readers approach all texts in that obstinate and solitary way. Herein is my criticism of her short article and, in order for me to properly analyze and criticize her article I am wont to rely on the classic and significant work of Mortimer Adler, whose book, How to Read a Book, became a classic and, in some ways, revolutionized the way that people think about reading. Let me explain. First, I have an intimate connection with Mr. Adler?s book because I have developed and presented many, many times a workshop based on his book. (I have presented this workshop, ?Reading for Value? at several academic conferences and I present the workshop to my freshman class here at the U of R and to the student body at Empire State College.) That being said, let me explain where, exactly, I think that Ms. Browns synopsis of reading falls short. Ms. Brown fails to notice, I think, that people generally read for one of three reasons. They either read for information, for understanding, or for enlightenment. And, there is a big difference in a reader?s behavior for each of these types of reading. A person may read a newspaper strictly for information. In this case, they are on the same level with the text. Generally, they don?t have to work very hard to ?get? what the author is saying. A person may read a more complicated text for understanding. In this case, they are trying to understand what the author, who knows more than they do, is communicating. An example of this might be a technical manual. Lastly, a reader may read for enlightenment. In this case they are concerned not only with what the author says, but why the author says it. This is the highest level of reading and this kind of reading, I think, entails employing the obstinacy and the solitude about which Ms. Brown is talking.
The trick, I think, if one is to properly tailor web-pages to readers is to understand what kind of reader one wishes to have. If a web designer is only concerned with conveying information but not concerned with enlightenment, they may want to focus more on how to relay that information the fastest and most convenient way possible. Conversely, if a web designer really is concerned with a reader becoming enlightened, then they would want to concern themselves with making the text easier for a reader to read in solitude and in deep thought.
I appreciate the fact that Ms. Brown has raised the issue of what readers do and how readers interact with a text. I think that if web-designers were more concerned with the issues that she has started to raise we could save a lot of paper. Were the screen more hospitable for a reader, and were there a way for a reader to better interact with a text, a reader might not feel the need to print every important thing that they have to read.

And, for yet another response:
NOTE: I do not want to be guilty of having only one trick (or two) in my bag of tricks, but I could not resist this comment:

Scott, David. ?Does a new literacy call for a new book model??

David Scott wonders if books should look more like web pages with, ?links to other chapters, pages, and even other resources in the marginalia.? Sure this is a good idea. In reality though, the theory and practice has been with us long before the internet. Here is how: Religious readers, that is, Bible readers, have had these ?links to other chapters? and many, many, notes in the marginalia available to them for years in study Bibles. Study Bibles offer page after page loaded with interactive opportunities. For example, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible offers readers not only cross references but also 3738 entries cross-referenced and cross-linked to other resources located in the Bible including book outlines and illustrations. (For a picture of a page of the Thompson, see below.) Each of these 3738 entries or topics are numbered as well and allow a reader to follow that number all the way through the Bible. Other Bibles, like the Schofield Study Bible, offer cross references in the text and also offer study notes at the bottom of every page. These resources allow a reader to be incredibly interactive with the text and allow for a sort of ?internet surfing? experience by allowing a reader to link to other verses and chapters that have the same theme as the one they are reading. Interestingly, in recent years, the Bible itself has gone digital. One of the best digital Bibles is the Blue Letter Bible. What is most interesting about the Bible going digital though is that the makers of the Blue Letter Bible were concerned with making sure that it had all of the features of the already existing study Bible along with other internet unique resources. For example, the makers of the Blue Letter Bible made sure that their Bible had all of the cross-references available, along with marginalia, just like a ?real? study Bible. The Blue Letter Bible is an example of a web designer being concerned with their product having all of the features of the book, not the other way around. Mr. Scott is right in thinking that books could benefit by looking more like web-pages, but he is wrong in thinking that this would be something new.
Posted by      Wesley M. at 1:41 PM EDT

soundbites from Stephen Fry: the rise of the novel


"I doubt you can find any sentence describing how human learning has degraded now that isn't congruent to a similar sentence written at the time of rise of the novel - about how people were no longer reading sermons and classical literature, but were reading novels from subscription libraries instead.

The literature at the time in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, describing the contempt that the learned establishment had for the rise of the novel - and then of course later with the rise of the penny dreadfuls and sensational literature as more and more people came to read it - again there was a great cry of despair at how there would be nothing but illiteracy in the world, or at least a kind of refusal or inability to engage in proper, serious study.

And we hear the cry again."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7926509.stm
Posted by      Rachel L. at 1:18 PM EDT

soundbites from Stephen Fry: books and the web


"Very often people oddly put books against the internet.

Man's first communication with man, as far as we know, is obviously through the spoken voice and literature was first an oral thing - poetry sprang from groups of men and women around the fire telling each other stories, telling each other fables and myths and explaining the world in different ways and reporting their hunting incidents.

It took a very long time for a technology to arise, making impressions on wax tablets and staining papyrus and so on, and then illuminating manuscripts; and eventually, thanks to Gutenberg of course, movable type and print was disseminated at great speed. But it was a technology.

And it seems to me that books are a marvellous and absolutely new way in the human race - I mean they're only five hundred years old, if that - of telling stories.

And we love them. I love them. You don't throw away your books when you buy a computer. You keep both. The beauty of living in the present day is you don't abandon the past. The past co-exists."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7926509.stm
Posted by      Rachel L. at 1:17 PM EDT
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Digital Literacy


Siracusa and Sebastian both make the point that the physical differences between e-readers and books can only take us so far in our discussion of emerging reading technologies. We?re looking to the relationship of form and content rather than any nostalgic connection to form alone. E-books enable the possibility of providing both ?traditional? content (the text of a novel) and the sort of ephemeral internet-developed content Sebastian wants to synch up with an electronic device. Neither of those is inherent to the form of an e-reader, but then again, is the long-format type of work that we normally associate with the book inherent in that form? Birkerts certainly thinks so, but our recent look at Blake?s illuminated works shows the latitude provided for by the form of the codex.

I found Birkert to be heavily dependent on McLuhan?s understanding of the form of the book as entirely locked into its content, which leads him to associate a switch to digital technologies with a complete loss of the history of texts: ?the background understanding of what this text was?how it emerged and took its place in the context of other texts?and how it moved through the culture.? ?Text? here is taken to be synonymous with ?book,? which fails to acknowledge that the history of written communication did not begin with the book. Beyond this historical flattening is Birkert?s sense of the development of books and the practice of reading as entirely linear. What is this ?woven narrative consistency of the story? of the text that Birkert points to? How does a google search destroy ?the contextual order that books represent? more so than an index search? He seems to see the entire culture of books as a totality, while digital technologies represent fragmentation and thus a loss of both context and history. Birkert finds some sort of unity in the history of publishing that I can?t identify, and his anxiety is quite telling. Birkert wants the type of deep immersion that digital technologies allows for (think of the sheer range of information now available) while at the same time pulling people towards less linear ways of reaching such information.

Steve Job?s comment (quoted by Siracusa) that nobody reads anymore is true in the sense that we?ve become somewhat confused in our understanding of what reading entails. The Rosen article touches on the idea that even if we begin to accept that e-readers fundamentally differ from books, we still think of ourselves as ?reading? in both contexts. But in what sense should we consider ?reading? as the linear progression through codified works alongside, rather than identical to, the more fragmented world of wikis and blogs? I don?t want to make a claim regarding deep immersion versus surface superficiality?both of these types of information gathering seem useful to me?but so long as our conception of ?reading? is linked to books and then transferred to other media, we?re going to have some communication issues.

I see this at work in the advertisements for e-readers. What they push is the idea that I can read anywhere and at anytime. Well, yes, but why do I want to pick up the novel I?m reading while in line at Wegmans? I?ll read three pages, stop mid-sentence to swipe my credit card, and forget what I just read. That?s not reading; that?s killing time. But the Kindle also allows us to download blogs, newspapers, etc. ?Reading? in the check-out line becomes a space for quick information gathering, but not an ongoing engagement with a longer text. Reading is a misnomer here, but I?m afraid the distinction doesn?t solve the problem of whether or not the proliferation of information gathering will destroy the type of reading Birkert prematurely mourns.
Posted by      Peter Z. at 12:01 PM EDT

"You?ve Read the Headlines. Now, Quick, Read the Book."


Posted by      nikolaus w. at 9:21 AM EDT

E-Books


Somewhere between a response and a summary here. So it goes...

John Siracusa, in ?The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age,? draws from his experience as a veteran of ?early?, that is the 1990?s, e-book industry to delineate some of the external obstacles and obstructions that face e-book adoption. The first and foremost of these tackled by Siracusa would certainly elicit a response from Marshall McLuhan. Siracusa draws a clear distinction between ?e-book?, the content or written words, and the readers or devices used to read them. His article is organized around this distinction, with content providers/sellers being distinct from device manufacture. His point is that ?e-books? cannot really be held up to most of the charges their critics apply to them, as questions of ease-of-use, aesthetics, durability, etc. all pertain to the devices used, not the ?e-book? proper, which can be, or could be, made to appear in any number of ways on any number of devices to suit individual needs or tastes(I believe that certain rapid print-on-demand services would easily fit into the range of devices through which e-books were displayed, but Siracusa does not really address this issue).

This confusion pointed to by Siracusa is clearly at work in Christine Rosen?s ?People of the Screen:?

?In our eagerness to upgrade or replace the book, we try to make reading easier, more convenient, more entertaining?forgetting that reading is also supposed to encourage us to challenge ourselves and to search for deeper meaning.?

An e-book does not replace the book, it might be argued in response. In the background of Rosen and other ?book critics? takedowns is a creeping idealization of the activity of reading, which tends to present reading as the grappling and long contemplation of difficult and long works of art or history. While there is nothing that prevents one from reading so, such a notion of ?the book? as ancient antagonist to ?e-books? may largely miss the point.

Reading is a complex set of activities, and e-book readers may be able to do many useful things better than the codex, which could justify them without recourse to whether or not Little Dorrit was better on paper or Kindle. As Mary Sebastian writes in ?Will the real iPod for reading stand up now please??

?[C]an we forget about the handful of eccentrics who want to ruin their eyes wading through War and Peace on a tiny LCD screen. Instead, let's bring on the real iPod for reading: something that lets me download, archive, tag annotate, share, playlist and categorise short-form works that would otherwise disappear into the link-rot mulch of yesterday's Web. Let's figure out a business model, an iTunes for micro-articles. Let's take short-form digital writing seriously.?

The debate over the Kindle may be more mundane after all, if as Sebastian asserts, the domain of ?the [great] book?, the canon?s lodestones, remains a frontier for such devices only to a straggled band of techno-fetishists. Who would want to read Great Expectations in one go at a screen? Is it necessary that one should want to do so for the Kindle to have value?

Seconding Rosen?s anxious pleas, Sven Birkerts seizes an even larger stake in ?the page-to-screen transfer,? in ?Resisting the Kindle.?

?I see in the turning of literal pages?pages bound in literal books?a compelling larger value, and perceive in the move away from the book a move away from a certain kind of cultural understanding, one that I?m not confident that we are replacing, never mind improving upon.?

Birkerts casts reading ?the book??notice the ?the? again paying homage to a peculiarly conceived, singular array of diverse printed materials?is a shared cognitive and experiential grounding to the modern world and the past. Not only are we in danger of losing our reams of paper and buckets of glue, foresees Birkerts, we are standing by while the venerable and august institutions that underwrite and maintain book culture are eroded in a cacophony of Wiki searches, twitters, and any of the thousand other things one can do with a wireless internet connection at a library or reading room besides attend to the words on the page.

?[T]hese structures [vast libraries and complicated filing systems] evolved over centuries in ways that map our collective endeavor to understand and express our world. The book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly.?

Birkerts warns us that we literally may be losing touch with our own ?collective endeavor to understand and express our world,? history and even humanity evaporating from the latent heat of handheld devices. Stepping back from such a high pitch, Birkerts points to the serious question of how the Kindle, and related devices, may change what he calls the ?deep structure? of reading. Will we lose hard won powers of contextualization? Will the same, rapid and vapid answers to our queries end up relentlessly recycled through a circuit of Wiki?s and automated responses? Will anyone read wholes when they can opt for specific parts to order?

In response to such resistance we may return to the distinction drawn by Siracusa between e-book and reading device. What is now blocking the adoption of e-books appears to be content deprivation, through overpricing, a lack of a central and comprehensive store to buy from and a lack of actual titles to purchase. No single device is yet linked with anything of the sort, although this may rapidly change with the size of the new players in the market.

There is not yet a system that makes it easy to produce, sell, pay, transfer, store, share, display, retransfer to separate devices, and organize e-books without shuffling between overpricing, non-compatibility, and proprietary DRM speed bumps. If there were, e-books, like mp3?s did, could start to find their way to more devices that already exist and more that are just beginning to meet the specific needs and tastes of different readers at different price points with different types of features for different types of content. Until then, most people will just have to twitter, facebook, SMS, etc. with their open book sitting on their lap.
Posted by      nikolaus w. at 9:18 AM EDT
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Andrea's Response to the (Digital) Page Readings


Sorry about this, guys, but my blog post is a response to the readings as opposed to a summary of them. I thought that we were going to summarize in class and that the blog was for our response. After seeing the posts by Joe and Ryan, I?m guessing I was wrong about that. %&$*! Luckily, they were in my reading group?so read their posts first and hopefully mine will then make more sense.

Using Mandy Brown?s notion of the reader?s ?space? as a jumping off point and keeping Jakob Nielson?s criticisms of the Kindle in mind, my response mainly targets Zak Nelson?s proposed diagram for ?a new kind of book? (that looks remarkably like a webpage), which is featured in David Meerman?s ?Does a New Literacy Call for a New Book Model?? I meant for my post to be light-hearted in tone, but *raises fist* I?m deadly serious about defending my books! :) So without further ado:


I hate to sound old school, but personally I loathe the idea of replacing printed books with various and sundry sorts of electronic texts. Don?t get me wrong. I love the internet (in fact, I spend waaaay to much time on it), and I don?t oppose e-books, etc. entirely?but I don?t ask me to give up my dog-eared, marked up Norton Anthology from freshman year undergrad.

In ?In Defense of Readers,? Mandy Brown notes that the ?initial transition from looking to reading is followed by an intense, concentrated period in which the reader is lost in the text.? She goes on to explain that this state is something that should not be interrupted. I could not agree more. And there are few things that can interrupt a reader like some aspects of on-line texts. Zak Nelson?s diagram of the book of the future (from David Scott?s ?Does a New Literacy Call for a New Book Model??), a text based on websites, would drive me crazy. Among other things, Nelson includes a space for ads. Great. As if I didn?t get enough of those everywhere else, now someone wants to put them in my copy of Tom Jones. Although, do you suppose Tom Jones ads would be risqué? That could be fun. But I digress?and here?s where Brown?s point about creating a space for reader?s comes in; there is really no space for getting lost in a text when you have some sort of moving, flashing ad stuck in the margin. I find these tiresome when reading short postings on websites. I can?t imagine trying to get involved in a story with one in my peripheral vision, doing exactly what it?s supposed to do?namely get my attention. Nelson also thinks it would be fun to put something akin to a YouTube video in my books ?to depict a scene, when sequential visuals are required.? No thank you. If I want to see a visual of the book I?m reading, I?ll watch the film adaptation. Personally, as I read, I love to visualize. I don?t need someone else?s visual encroaching into my creative space.

It also bothers me that, at least at present, there are not many ways for a reader to interact with an electronic text. I don?t mean interact in the sense of communicating with others about a text (the internet is wonderful for that). I mean interact on a one to one level, so to speak. I cannot mark up what is interesting on a webpage. I have to take notes elsewhere. As far as I know, I couldn?t jot notes in the margin of a text on a Kindle. I guess they could hook up one of those Wal-Mart check out pins to it (you know, that plastic stick you sign your name with after you swipe your credit card in the credit card swipe thing), but God knows you?d never be able to read what you wrote, so you might as well not even bother. Maybe I?m a bit simple, but it really bothers me that I would no longer be able to color code stuff I read with different highlighters, post-it notes, and sticky tabs. My days of writing ?sweet Jesus? in exasperation in the margins of Pamela would be (at least for the present) long gone.

So basically I could sit around with a piece of plastic, in whatever form it takes, and let my eyes get bloodshot from the screen glare, or I could hold a leather bound book it my hands, breathe in the smell, and lose myself in a quiet, ad free world that is, at least in part, of my own imagining. I think I?ll take the latter.

*waits apprehensively for the shouts of protest*
Posted by      Andrea E. at 8:37 AM EDT

Joe's Reading Summaries


Mandy Brown. ?In Defense of Readers.? A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites. 17 February 2009.

This is an interesting article in which Mandy Brown, a web designer, argues for making people?s web viewing experience as comfortable as reading a physical book. She believes readers show an uncanny ability to concentrate on reading for a sustained period of time even amidst noise, but only if the content and its presentation keep them interested. With that in mind, she offers three important phases to the reading experience: inviting the reader in (with a real book this includes the front and back covers, paratext, introduction, etc.; with a digital book, it is the equivalent: title, author, website, drop down quote, picture, etc.); leaving the reader alone (this means focusing the page on the body of the text without too many side distractions, using a clear font, paragraphs, and white space); and finally, by offering further ?avenues? of interest (in the form of links, sources, etc.). Brown seems convinced that if digital books and articles are presented similarly to physical books we will begin to see more and more people make the transition.

David Meerman. ?Does a New Literacy Call for a New Book Model?? Web Ink Now. 2 February 2009.

This article makes the exact opposite case from Brown?s: that is, that page design shouldn?t mimic one?s traditional book reading experience, but that physical books should take their cues more from the design of websites. This includes not only layout, but even potentially a sidebar with advertisements like GoogleAds. Meerman is citing an email he received from a young marketing and PR professional named Zak Nelson. Nelson thinks that traditional book formats are becoming outdated, and that a new kind of ?literacy? requires thinking of new models for the book that will continue to engage young people. It?s an interesting argument, but I don?t know that there is any concrete evidence to suggest people want books to read like websites. From the comments, it seems many readers would be particularly annoyed by having ads in a book.

Harold Augenbraum. ?Flat Screen Novels.? Reading Ahead. 9 February 2009.

Augenbraum is writing in response to the release of the second version of the Kindle. He argues that the physical book offers a different aesthetic experience than its digital counterpart. Reading a traditional codex book offers what he calls a ?metaphor of depth and immersion.? Because the form of the e-book never changes it ?flattens the reading experience from a unique physical experience with unique content to the same physical experience with unique content.? His potential solution to this ?problem? is to actually have a sampling of authors write content intended to be experienced digitally. In other words, attempt to match content with the medium/technology. In his opinion, this might open doors to a new aesthetic experience, rather than simply offering ?convenience.?

Jakob Nielson. ?Kindle Content Design.? Alertbox. 16 March 2009.

Nielson?s main point in his review of the Kindle 2 is to apply the same lesson learned when moving from print to the Web to formatting for the Kindle: design for the medium. In other words, even though web pages and Kindles are similar, they are actually experienced much differently and for usually different purposes. The Web is more compatible to magazines, short articles, pictures and brochures, where the Kindle works better for longer, text-based things like novels and essays. This has to be kept in mind when thinking what will currently work and work well with the Kindle. Nielson cites, for example, the fact that the New Yorker, which features long, text based articles as doing particularly well in this new format. I guess, as it stands, Blake?s illuminated works might not.

Visel, Dan. ?Why is text on screen so ugly?? if:book. 27 February 2009.

Visel thinks that one of the main reasons the text we see on phones, kindles, etc. doesn?t look as good as regular books is because of the lack of margins and hyphens. He shows some illustrations of the latest Kindle, Sony Reader, and iPhone alongside a page from the Gutenburg Bible. He writes: ?When Gutenberg's words don't fit in a line (see, for example, the third line down in the right column) he broke them with a hyphen, starting a tradition in book design that has made its way to the present moment. The reason for hyphenation is apparent if you look at the shots of the screen-reading devices: if words aren't split, often the spacing between words must be increased, making it harder for the eye to follow.? Why isn?t it being done then? Visel believes it is quite difficult for a computer to establish consistent rules for hyphenation but that the technology can and should be created to improve the digital reading experience.
Posted by      Joe V. at 4:18 AM EDT

Ryan's Reading Summaries


Mandy Brown. ?In Defense of Readers.? A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites. 17 February 2009.
Brown addresses aspects of digital page design that she feels are crucial to attracting readers to digital material. She pays attention to the stages of book interaction: the progression from picking up a book (the ?looking,? sensual experience) to beginning to read (when one's attention is rapt) to middle (when one is engrossed in reading but not as enthusiastic as when beginning) to finishing (when one is most likely to hurry to the finish or become distracted).

Regarding web/print design, she encourages designers to produce readable material by creating adequate white space, buffers between text and sidebars, and using readable type faces. She seems particularly bent on luring book readers to the world of eReading.



David Meerman. ?Does a New Literacy Call for a New Book Model?? Web Ink Now. 2 February 2009.
Meerman asks, ?What if books were more like comics or web pages??, suggesting future print layouts might consist of sections, graphics, sidebars, even advertisements, in such a way that would make a printed page resemble a web page. Many commenters said they would resent having advertisements in books they've already purchased. One commenter noted that we should be less concerned with the future of the book than with the future of the website. Websites were the realization of what books wished they could be; but now the challenge for digital text interfaces is the transition from highly dense, content-rich sites to formats that are more easily and efficiently absorbed by incorporating text, images, audio, and visual material.


Harold Augenbraum. ?Flat Screen Novels.? Reading Ahead. 9 February 2009.
Augenbraum asserts that reading a Kindle is a different aesthetic experience than reading a book. He makes the book's center seam as a cognitive reference point. When reading a book, one moves from edge to interior, then from interior to edge. With the Kindle, one moves from edge to edge. Augenbraum argues that one significant difference between the book and the Kindle is the difference between an object that has the illusion of depth and one that has no depth, respectively.


Jakob Nielson. ?Kindle Content Design.? Alertbox. 16 March 2009.
Nielson makes note of textual material which Kindle excels in portraying and that in which it flags: it is particularly apt at presenting linear and narrative texts, such as literary fiction; but it fails to provide a satisfying reading experience when images are crucial to the reading experience. Moving between sections of text in the Kindle is still awkward, not nearly comparable to the ease with which this is done in books.

Nielson also notes Kindle's inadequacies in Information Architecture (IA). He says that the initial adjustment to Kindle is quick and easy, but a greater number of digital books will make navigating through one's collection will become cumbersome.


?Why is text on screen so ugly?? if:book. 27 February 2009.
This brief article calls our attention to the fact that the most well-known eReaders do not hyphenate the ends of lines during justification of the right edge of text. Rather the spacing of the lines is adjusted to maintain justification. The author argues that this greatly affects one's reading experience by flooding the page with unexpected and cognitively unmanageable whitespace within lines. This makes a text more difficult to read than one that uses hyphenation to manage intra-line whitespace. The subsequent comments deal with a variety of topics, namely the practicality of writing software that would allow for effective keyword searches that would not be disturbed by hyphenation. A few people even suggested that we forget justification and leave the ragged edge. Others said leave the spaces and never hyphenate.


Dan Visel. ?Correspondences.? if:book: A Project of the Institute for the Future of the Book. 31 January 2009.
This article opens by introducing an unconventionally constructed book entitled Correspondences, by Ben Greenman. The book is a collection of three folded pamphlets and a postcard. Visel remarks that in an age of cheap content, one must sell by creating new and interesting book formats, which then create new reading experiences. Visel proceeds to discuss the Ray Johnson School of Correspondence in New York City, from which this book is derived. He uses this idea of correspondence to discuss the way audience affects one's writing (in both form and content) and reception.


I remember one particular comment in one of the articles that raised the issue of citing pages in digital texts. In taking notes for these articles (and other online material), I felt a bit disarmed by the lack of page numbers, which you realize become (as they have always been) reference points for content. It's not hard to imagine a blog having page numbers, but the idea of a ?page? must be reformulated. Perhaps referring to sections or paragraphs would suffice, but content writers will have to start sectioning their material to allow for accurate citation.

This reading assignment quickly exposed me to a variety of digital text layouts, which made comparison and evaluation unavoidable. I found myself most comfortable when the text constituted about one third of my screen width, slightly to the right-of-center, and framed by either off-color borders or sidebars. It may be that I was influenced by Brown's article about digital page design; although, lately I've been reading more and more on my computer and noticing the value of whitespace as a frame. I found a free eBook version of A Romance of the Republic from a website that allowed me to customize the pdf format in which I would read. Since the site allowed me to experiment with different reading environments, I downloaded several different formats. Increasing the margins, and selecting a plain, sans-serif type made the text much more readable and even more engaging.

Posted by      Ryan D. at 2:51 AM EDT

April 1, 2009

Nick and Luke's Tmemap


Posted by      nikolaus w. at 10:43 AM EDT




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