by: C. Sven Johnson

Ever since my hesitant interview for the ISHUSH blog (Link) last year, I’ve paid a bit more attention to how others believe books might evolve in an increasingly digital world. My first pass at giving it any real thought beyond “Uh, they’ll be e-books”, was in response to a question asked of me at that time:

W> As you know, I think the concept of the kirkyan may be very useful for libraries. But what I’ve tried to write about it has so far been abstract — just pie in the sky. Can you suggest any specific, real-world kirkyan applications for libraries?
S> Well, off the top of my head I think e-books that allow every individual to add comments and notes which can then be tagged, searched, and interactively overlaid might be interesting. Imagine if that book had a physical Master and multiple virtual instantiations available to people everywhere through an immersive 3D space (like how Second Life now has virtual books) or through other platforms that allowed them to add their own notes, have them both automatically aggregate and self-distribute and then perpetuate and perhaps even evolve with the original language. It’s almost like peer-to-peer knowledge sharing or something. I don’t know what you call that. But it’s the opposite of one lone researcher sitting in a library and scribbling notes in the borders of a book that will be seen by few, if any, people.

Two weeks later I sat up and took notice when the New York Times carried an article by Kevin Kelly, “Scan This Book!” (Link - registration required), which indicated that perhaps my off-the-cuff answer wasn’t so far-fetched after all.


Not too long ago, on the O’Reilly Radar blog (Link), I became aware of a neat little effort by designer/engineer Manolis Kelaidis to turn a regular book into a kind of networked e-book. And last week I was reminded of that effort - and my earlier comments - when I caught another entry on O’Reilly Radar titled “Future of Interactive eBooks” (Link).

This latest post points to a video that’s worth watching (Link). It’s in French, but it’s not difficult to understand what’s happening. I especially find the bookstore scenes interesting, since they seem to stand in for the “kirkyan master” repository I was imagining in some earlier, related comments on the ISHUSH blog (okay, so maybe the above was a second pass).

{Image Copyright © Editis

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