Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Dissertation for Sale: A Cautionary Tale

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The other day while browsing around looking for books to read on my iPad I noticed what looked like a dissertation for sale. I’ve been wondering how dissertations could get into e-book stores when I remembered the license that graduate students are being asked to sign these days by Theses Canada. The system here encourages students to give a license to Library and Archives Canada that includes the right,

(a) to reproduce, publish, archive, preserve, conserve, communicate to the public by telecommunication or on the Internet, loan, distribute and sell my thesis (the title of which is set forth above) worldwide, for commercial or non-commercial purposes, in microform, paper, electronic and/or any other formats;

I now just came across this cautionary story in the Chronicle for Higher Education about Dissertation for Sale: A Cautionary Tale. It seems it is also allowed in the US.

War and Peace gets Nookd

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

From Slashdot I found this blog entry Ocracoke Island Journal: Nookd about how a Nook version of War and Peace had the word “kindle” replaced by “nook” as in “It was as if a light has been Nooked (kindled) in a carved and painted lantern…” It seems that the company that ported the Kindle version over to the Nook ran a search and replace on the word Kindle and replaced it with Nook.

I think this should be turned into a game. We should create an e-reader that plays with the text in various ways. We could adapt some of Steve Ramsay’s algorithmic ideas (reversing lines of poetry). Readers could score points by clicking on the words they think were replaced and guessing the correct one.

A walk through The Waste Land

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Daniel sent the link to this YouTube video, A walk through The Waste Land, that shows an iPad edition of The Waste Land developed by Touch Press. The version has the text, audio readings by various people, a video of a performance, the manuscripts, notes and photos. I was struck by how this extends to the iPad the experiments of the late 1980s and 1990s that exploded with the availability of HyperCard, Macromedia Director and CD-ROM. The most active publisher was Voyager that remediated books and documentaries to create interactive works like Poetry in Motion (Vimeo demo of CD) or the expanded book series, but all sorts of educational materials were also being created that never got published. As a parent I was especially aware of the availability of titles as I was buying them for my kids (who, frankly, ignored them.) Dr. Seuss ABC was one of the more effective remediations. Kids (and parents) could click on anything on the screen and entertaining animations would reinforce the alphabet.


INKE Research Foundations For Understanding Books And Reading In A Digital Age Text And Beyond

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Today I was at the INKE Birds Of a Feather conference here in Kyoto. I wrote a conference report at, INKE Research Foundations For Understanding Books And Reading In A Digital Age Text And Beyond. It was a great day with lots of discussion thanks to the BOF format where papers were distributed beforehand so we could only talk for 5 minutes.

Web literature in China

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

From a story in the Guardian I discovered that online reading is taking off in China. According to China Daily story, Web literature turns a page with profitable storyline a large percentage of Chinese web users are reading long serialized novels for a 30-50 cents per 100,000 words (which is about a dollar for every 600-1000 pages!) The Guardian story Has China found the future of publishing? suggests that the convenience, the price, the type of serialized literature, the economic model (of independent authors and commercial sites), and the proliferation of e-readers has made it a viable business. I’m guessing that serialization is a way of discouraging pirates – people who want the next chapter will pay to get it as soon as possible.

Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory Launch

Thursday, September 29th, 2011


I am at the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) launch. CWRC is building a collaborative editing environment that will allow editorial projects to manage the editing of electronic scholarly editions. Among other things CWRC is developing an online XML editor, a editorial workflow management tools, and integrated repository.

The keynote speakers for the event include Shawna Lemay and Aritha Van Herk.

The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Dan Cohen has written a good summary of the latest fuss over electronic books, The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books. He explains the latest suit by the Authors Guild against the HathiTrust. This suit is the companion to the suit by the Authors Guild of Google that has still not been resolved.

LOGICOMIX: philosophical comics

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Sean lent me LOGICOMIX (Doxiadis, Apostolos, et al. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009), a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell and logic. The comic novel has a series of frames, the outer of which is a discussion between the real authors about logic and passion. They end up going to see Orestes and the novel ends with Athena’s judgement that brings the fates (passion and revenge) together with reason into wisdom in a city (Athens) through justice.

This frame echoes the main internal story which is Russell’s struggle to found math in logic. Much of the novel is a tour through the history of logic and important paradoxes. This tour runs in parallel with a biography of Russell. At all levels the novel seems to argue that you have to balance passion with reason. Russell tried to do it in his life, logicians discovered there was no logical foundation with paradoxes, and the graphic novel uses comic art to illustrate the story of logic (hence “logicomix”.) There is dog called “Manga” (which apparently in Greek means “cool dude”) who chases the owl (of reason.)

Distractions in the Shallows

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I’ve was slowly reading Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows when I came across this passage,

By combining many different kinds of information on a single screen, the multimedia Net further fragments content an disrupts our concentration. (p. 91)

As often happens when reading, questions disrupted my concentration. I couldn’t help thinking that Carr’s gaze was limited by the screen. How many distractions are there beyond the book and screen. I grabbed my iPhone and took a panoramic shot of the visual space from where I sat on the living room couch. Rooms are the problem – they are filled with multimedia and interactive distractions starting with the couch (which invites me to put down the book and snooze.) Here is my annotated “multimedia” space (click to enlarge):

Amazon and Waterstones report downloads eclipsing printed book sales

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

So, ebooks are finally taking off! The Guardian reports that Amazon and Waterstones report downloads eclipsing printed book sales . This doesn’t mean that the value of print sales has been surpassed, but it is still indicative that ebooks are here to stay.

Now, can we redesign the book for the ereader? The current crop of ebook readers are page turners that don’t use the medium. Instead the medium has been made to work like the book and perhaps that is right, but I would still like to see something more interesting. Here are some ideas:

  • e-audio-books – ebooks that come with either voice synthesis or synchronized audio so that you can listen or read them.
  • An API for reading apps so that you could buy apps that work with all your ebooks. The apps might allow you to search across books or visualize books. There might be apps that quiz you with random quotes or help you pull linked data out of a book.
  • A standardized way of citing passages in an ebook.