“Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced a ground breaking program aimed at utilizing technology to develop a love for learning. The partnership offers schools the opportunity to acquire award-winning HMH digital titles on pre-loaded Barnes & Noble NOOK Readers.” (from TeleRead)
The transformative result is a subvention of the book into an integrated reading device of a library. A new practice of bundled library reading will assimilate books into a larger learning experience perhaps parsed at the grade level. Consider researching prospects for the book. Popularly named “the future of the book”, the topic spans publishing, authorship, book arts, academic book studies and reading behavior. Legacy conventions of textbooks, scholarly monographs, literary genres, and crafts and arts of the book appear unsustainable as we witness a sudden disruption in the history of the book. This transition deserves archival attention.
An archival collection would build from sources documenting intersection, interplay and interdependence of print and screen book formats. The source material is currently ephemeral including conference reports and proceedings, blog activities, media coverage. There is also an assemblage of devices and evidence of their ephemeral infrastructures.
unbound at mit
This conference is an eerie metaphor for evolution of social species. Cultural evolution is launched from the relatively stable platform of bonic evolution. Edward O. Wilson points out (see his Social Conquest of Earth) that the ant has advantages in the tens of millions of years but lacked a body size sufficient to manage fire. Other outcomes, including noetic preservation and a fiery poetic orality performed by Christian Bök who is currently conducting a conceptual experiment called The Xenotext which involves genetically engineering a bacterium so that it might become an archive for storing a poem in its genome for eternity. Over apochal, near eternity time spans the evidence of a sentient species on this planet, will disappear. Yet as Bök remarks, this is a cypher for noetic preservation and genetic archiving. Such preservation is a bizarre ecological mission against the existential threat.
Or you can hang out at the MIT Press bookstore that specializes in media and social technologies. I picked up some great books including, Markus Krajewski’s, Paper Machines, About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929. Also I have The Story Telling Animal, How Stories Make Us Human, by Jonathan Gottschall and Masters of the Planet, the Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall. Then I found a little book, The Future of Looking Back by Richard Banks which is an “exploration of how to preserve human values in an era of planned obsolescence”. If this will not fulfill the noetic preservation discipline there will also be a field trip to the MIT preservation lab and the endless conference to come.
Another future of the book conference has gone. The MIT UnBound meeting was well attended (240 attending) and engaging although somewhat reminiscent of an abiguity of the assimilation together of paper and screen display and delivery. These meetings sometimes exemplify an orality-based discussion of literacy that offers the worst of both worlds without looking between.
Again it is the folks from inside the university presses that offer refreshing, pragmatic evaluation. They are both in between and looking between and Gita Manaktala from MIT Press provided a terrific synopsis of shifting reading practice, wider attention and broader publication values and gate-keeping methods. While the general discussion is 95% about screen delivery, the university press people also understand that 90% to 95% of their revenue is from print. They await the commodifications of electronic formats, not just scenarios concerning their operability and allure. University press editors do not use PowerPoint.
Here is a take-home from Boston. This is that in the new screen environments the partition between reading and writing is dissolving and the overlap space is useful for thinking. This was one of Bob Stein’s contentions as he discussed his newest educational program called SocialBook. This position aligns suggestively with another conference evaluation that the flood of information is more difficult for authors than it is for readers.
Haptic history popped up as well within Bonnie Mak’s work on the functionality of the page. This topic hovers as a corrective for the disembodied emind. It also skirts the important issue of evolution of paratext apparatus. For outright enjoyment there was a presentation by Kate Hayles. It was a performance of false correlates including suggestive conspiracies of the 88 piano keys, 88 constellations and (88 Linotype magazine channels!). Best also were the magnificent performances of Christian Bök as mentioned with his strategies for noetic bionic archiving within DNA. So the date of the end of the world is moved again and the enthusiasm of the conference and participation of advanced students suggests that future of the book conference type will continue to be popular.