Posts filed under ‘NeoBook’

Some gristle from Print is Dead, Gomez

Print is Dead: Books in our Digital Age, Gomez


Not only about books, but about the growing pains of everything becoming digital, the book covers many different industries and points out the pros and cons of this changing marketplace.  The author drops the names of at least a hundred books spanning traditional classics to science fiction; some good suggestions for what to read next.


P13.9 “In many ways…we have already moved beyond the book….the sales of books and other printed matter, for centuries the center of cultural memory, now have fallen to fourth position behind the sales of television, cinema, and video games.”


P18.2 BOOK can be taken as an acronym standing for Box of Organized Knowledge.


P23.7…even the most rudimentary electronic reading experience offers more features and overall utility than a print book does.  So to make the argument that books are a great technology (and don’t crash and don’t lose data, etc.) is the supreme kind of silliness…books are indeed primarily the information they contain….


P43.6  Five hundred years ago , when books were first introduced, they were greeted with the same level of skepticism that digital reading is facing today.  Gutenberg’s bibles…were not welcomed with open arms or eager hands….’medieval clerics greeted printed books as imposters of illuminated manuscripts – aesthetically inferior, textually unreliable and likely to breed a dangerous diversity of opinion.’  I read about the disruptive influence of the printing press in another book…?


P52.9  “I almost expected to see steam coming off the guy’s coal-powered jetpack”

Gomez described how people are getting news on their computer screen vs. traditional newspapers….  Tufte points out that newsprint and books have superior resolution compared to computer screen, e.g. data per pixel.


P58.5 mentioning the loss of book reviews published in newspapers, Gomes points out that these discussions are happening online…but doesn’t mention Amazon here?  I think that a good example of the amateur-reviewer?

P78.1 “Richtel also discussed a condition known as ‘acquired attention deficit disorder,’ which is used to describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it.”  Digital natives?


P95.2 machinima Red vs. Blue episodes.


P97.2 Tapscott, Growing up Digital


P109.2 Davenport and Beck, The attention Economy.  What’s in short supply is human attention.  Telecommunication bandwidth is not a problem, but human bandwidth is.


P110.9  “While ordering something on Amazon and paying for overnight shipping is almost an on demand environment, it’s not the same thing as getting a recommendation on a band, heading to iTunes, and downloading three of their songs with three clicks of  a mouse….75% of users shopping on the Internet won’t return to a website if it takes more than four seconds to load, twenty-four hours is an eternity.”  Bezos must have read this book and decided to start work on the Kindle!


P114.2  2006 Who album?  Really?


P124.6 …when ebooks contain no searches or hyperlinks…’…it’s significantly easier to find information in a paper book than in its digital equivalent.’


P125 book – Gravity’s Rainbow.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


P141.6 long form literary hypertext, Michael Joyce’s Afternoon: a story


P143 mentions Choose your Own Adventure books….then purposes neo-book-like things: what if users could shuffle the chapters (like in ‘The Perfect Thing’) of books and make their own literary remixes.  Or else authors could provide alternative edits or versions of their books, one version featuring an emphasis on one character while a change in the setting would make yet another character the protagonist.  [Or.  Other people could make edits and versions and annotations and links to other things.  You could re-write a complex course book using simpler language for younger students, you could provide links to dissenting opinions…]


P146.2 Time’s Arrow, Amis


P187.6 Five reasons publishers will still exist in a digital age.  1. Find talent – with millions online, finding anything worth consuming is getting more difficult.  [enter Hunter’s mentat, and remember the Cult of the Amateur]


P196.3 Books represent an old fashioned way of doing things…A sci-fi film would never have a scene with someone reading a book…somewhere in this book he said something like there’s not a great example of what a great ebook could be like….I don’t see it here, but The Diamond Age is an obvious counter-argument to that statement.


Gomez convinces me that ebooks are coming, and will be great, but we’ve got a long road ahead before they’re useful.  If they’re too constrained by copyright, that will screw up linking, and if they don’t have useful search and bookmarking and annotation features, than why bother?  I still can’t get over the idea though that a single handheld device, even though it can hold thousands of books, will never be as useful or as practical as laying out all the books and papers you need within hands reach on your desk while working on a task.  How to comparing texts side by side?  Anyone who tries to fiddle with multiple windows on a typical computer desktop knows that it’s a pain to get each application to show the pertinent information in its little window and manipulate things so you can compare information.  And once you finally get it right, it’s a one time deal, and the next time you need to do it all over again (as discussed in Personal Information Management).  I’m thinking that ‘virtual reality’ will end up being the ebook where text and feeds you want to read will be projected on any surface while you use your specs, like Manfred Macx in Stross’ Accelerando, or wear-comp, ala Vinge’s Rainbows End, or  whatever allowed ‘the feeds’ to show up on the walls and tables in Cory Doctorow’s Human Readable.  In particular Vinge’s description of wear-comp enhanced reality seems the most useful where different layers of information are overlaid on ‘real’ reality.


April 18, 2008 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Write in this book: active book modding

Marginalia as described by Sherman in John Dee… was a way to remember important topics for future conversations, but also a way to organize the text itself at a time when conventions like tables of contents and things like a subject index were not consistently applied.

Sherman’s book itself had an extremely simple yet powerful approach to the chapter notes at the end of the text:  at the top of each page of the chapter notes section, where the notes were organized numerically by chapter, starting with 1 at the beginning of each, the section was also organized using the header of each page to denote the page in the text where the notes thereon refer. 

In any book I’ve read after Sherman’s Dee I get more and more frustrated with the notes pages as I can’t tell if note 34 is from chapter 1 or chapter 3 without a lot of flipping around.

So I’ve taken a page from both Dee and Sherman and I’ve revising my edition of The Singularity is Near, in which notes notes make up an impressive 16% of the pages, so that the notes page headers all point at the pages in the text that they refer to.

With a neobook, you could digg my edition; the mods with more utility would rise to the top.

November 27, 2006 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Notes of intelligence, neobooks, a web of books

I stumbled across this site somehow: Notes of Intelligence. The author has writen some pretty useful summaries of a couple popular books, The Tipping Point and How to Win Friends and Influence People, and put them on pages of his WordPress blog kind of like I did here with Davenport and Prusak’s Working Knowledge. But where I annotate the text exhaustively, “Notes” distills the texts and presents useful summaries. This seems a good example to follow.

Until we have a hyperlinked and hyperlinkable book with infinitely expandable margins that you can read in multidimensions, how useful is exhaustive annotation?

More neobookish thoughts: suppose authors publish their books in a wiki-like format. Then, ala Rainbows End, readers can decide for themselves how they wish to read the book. The original book, the book minus errata, the book with hyperlinks to references, the book re-written cooperatively by fans, or critics. These alternative views could be layers upon layers of extra-creative work. This sounds like a living book, at least a neobook. The best or most popular views would rise to the top of the noise through Slashdot/Digg type mechanisms. All views would be available at all times so that if you were confused or uncomfortable with a certain passage you could see how and where that thread of edits began. Of course, rewriting the ending is a common enough gag, but how about rewriting the whole book?

With Rainbows End, I’ve been amazed how many other books I’ve read fall into the plot. It’s kind of the culmination of readings to date. But looking backwards, Vinge doesn’t suggest which books to read if you’re interested in topic X or Y. My ‘view’ of the book would provide that overlay of additional information.

I guess that’s part of what this web log is for: links from the book, both explicit and implicit, are given, and connections with other books and sites are noted.

One book suggests a hundred more to read. I can envision the books I’ve read as a web or network with each node a book or website. Each node may or may not be connected to many many others. Morville‘s Ambient Findability for example is almost pure bibliography.

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to follow these links of connected books and websites – documents, anyway; to pivot, in a faceted classification system sense, on author, on title, content, subject; in a wiki-sense a list of backlinks to see where else this book was mentioned? A Science Citation Index, if you will. Trackbacks, etc….

Ah, Amazon has ‘citations,’ now, that’s great. What more does Amazon have?!

Reading Small Pieces Loosely Joined led me to read The Future of Ideas which was also cited by Smart Mobs and the Anarchist in the Library. Wow the latter cites 235 books! But then I suspected that! But there are many many web resources now too. How to roll those into Amazon’s citations. Is this a mashup task using APIs?

Need to add these ideas to the wiki.

July 12, 2006 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment


Thinking about books and there often predicted demise and spawned off comment from a recent post 'The death of the book,' I did a quick search for 'future of the book' type sites.  I found The Institute for the Future of the Book, and an article The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World, by Clifford Lynch.  Both look pertinent and I have to dig into these resources.

But before I do, (and I'm sure it's discussed there) what are specs for the NeoBook.

Consider what books are now and what to keep:

  • Portable
  • no-power (but light?)
  • Table of contents
  • index
  • The flip-to-a-page action, e.g. you know what you're looking for and it's near the middle of the book….
  • Bookmarks, dog ears
  • ….

 Consider what books don't have now, but could

  • Full text search
  • Hyperlinks to full text of information sources.
  • Animation
  • Sound
  • Infinitely expandable margins
  • Self-lighted
  • ….


Say you're working on a report.  You'd like to have all your reference texts open and available in a large pile surrounding you.  Hmm, but say you have all your books on one handheld device.  So maybe poly-book functionality.  Switching between books easily on your device.  But screen real estate would be at a  premium.  I keep thinking 'virtual reality.'


What trouble Fermat would have saved the world if his margins were infinitely expandable (I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, which this margin is too narrow to contain –’s_last_theorem). 

This feels like a job for wiki.  Why not:

June 21, 2006 at 1:14 pm 2 comments

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