Monday, November 17, 2008

if:book London

Back in 2006, I did two posts on an interesting initiative. On
April 7 here, I quoted from the mission statement of The Institute for the Future of the Book (IF:B):
Starting with the assumption that the locus of intellectual discourse is shifting from printed page to networked screen, the primary goal of the Institute for the Future of the Book is to explore, understand and influence this shift. The Institute is a project of the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California and is based in Brooklyn, New York.
A couple of months later, on June 11 here, I explained the project that IF:B calls Sophie:
Sophie is no less than a plan to reinvent the book. Not satisfied with an electronic book that can be read on a computer screen, Sophie is a social engineering experiment as well. Recognizing the success of such websites as My Space, Sophie is an attempt to create documents that could live and breathe on the Internet and where readers could interact with each other and with the author.
Now, more than two years later, I read in Monday’s about a similar initiative in Great Britain:
A project has been launched to build an online "networked book" around responses to the work of 19th century poet-illustrator William Blake.

Songs of Imagination and Digitisation has been developed by literary think tank if:book London and is being funded by the Arts Council. The final product will be available online, for free, in the New Year.
Here is the mission for if:book London:
- to investigate the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens

- to explore the creative potential of new media for readers and writers
I am frequently amused by the Luddites among us, those people who swear up and down they will NEVER read an e-book. As if that was the end of the technology.

Guys, that is just the beginning. In the very near future, you will be able to read a digital book in a social networking environment. People will be able to comment on the material being read in real time. The author and fans will be able to converse digitally as the readers progress through the book.

When this happens, reading will cease to be the solitary occupation it is today. Hardcover and paperback books will be too expensive for any but the wealthiest among us. The rest of us will make do with a digital experience rather than fork out our hard-earned case to secure lodgings.

Read the entire article here.

1 comment:

nomadshan said...

Fascinating idea, especially for people who forego reading because they'd rather hang out with friends--they'll be able to do both.

It'd be interesting (if elitist) to have tiers of users, so a serious reader wouldn't have to wade through or be distracted by the OMG-I-can't-believe-she-kissed-him!!!!! comments.