preservation and persistence of the changing book


lurking complements

“The e-book should be a complement to the print book. That would not only make a print book more valuable and hence more likely to be purchased. It would also give publishers more control over the future of the e-book market. By setting up their own mechanism for downloads, they’d also gain more control over the rights and restrictions built into e-books, including the ability to make money directly from future transfers. “ Nick Carr (see suggestive comment thread on copy annotation rights in file transfer) “Are the annotations attached to the particular copy of the e-book, and allowed to remain attached to it when it passes to a new reader, or do the annotations exist in a separate sphere — say, in a personal online database that is the property of the individual reader? If it’s the latter, then the annotations may not follow the copy but instead might be stripped out at the moment of transfer, when the e-book is returned to its original, pristine “perfect” state “ Nick Carr

Lurking transfer issues can be extended beyond owner annotation. The screen copy provides transactional tracks, including a device library context, to the publisher or provider. The print copy propagates transfer issues beyond owner annotation. Here arcane features such as rebinding or discoloration from cigarette smoke should not be quickly dismissed. With print ownership produces physical annotations.

As interesting are the ownership transactions not transferred. These are the displacements of perspective and exposition provoked, exchanges of opinion and shifts of forums of discussion. Re-readings, cross-references, tethers of authorship and readership can also be invisible.

The complements of print and screen ownership fade as the performative actions and reactions merge into a single book transmission system that is difficult to track overall.

Consider the eerie complement where “text” is a noun in print but a verb on the screen. Other surprising counterparts are apparent. The print image is fixed, persistent, material and off-line while the screen image is fluid, transient, immaterial, and connected. As a book the affordances contrast as well. The print book is embodied and self-authenticating while the screen book is disembodied and self-indexing. What is going on? Some kind of syncopation is lurking.

Let’s explain this….perhaps the interdependence of print and screen books is inevitable…and unrelated to delivery formats alone. Perhaps the phenomenon of the complementary fit of print and screen book affordances is a perceptual requirement of reading behavior as a wider array or spectrum defines the capacity of reading activity.

pre-reading book

One of the attributes of the President’s agenda for pre-school learning relates to books. This is that learning about books can begin long before reading. Crucial realizations of the anatomy, navigation and function of books will dawn before there is even a grasp that reading skill will open another new dimension of their allure.

As David Brooks mentions, it is a handicap for children to arrive in kindergarten without even a sense of book orientation. “When they get to kindergarten they’ve never been read a book, so they don’t know the difference between the front cover and the back cover.” Reading books to preschoolers prompts early exercise of the fantasy transactions that books embody. Haptic features of page turning are an entertainment and an invitation to dexterity. Orientation of front and back, top and bottom, book weight and book sounds all prompt other paratext understandings before reading.

An early start of reading books to preschoolers will teach adults as well. As reading skills advance we can continue to learn mechanisms of the codex and continue to realize understanding that books enable.

feral ebook

Default or passive agendas are volatile as they shift toward stabilization or disruption. Natural systems do not come to rest. Resilience is optimal with continual adjustment and reversal of action in quick response to changing circumstance. Systems ranging from cultural transmission to wildlife ecologies resist restorative, sustainable, retrospective agendas. Such systems are resilient and suited to resilient management. Default or passive management assures mis-management.

Inherent resilience can be observed and measured. Feral species behaviors, of disrupted wild or domesticated behavior, can be monitored in hybrid features and displacement from previous base-line behavior. A specific example of interaction of white tail deer with suburban sprawl also suggests that multiple systems interact resiliently.

In a cultural context, media specialists study resilient interactions of formats and their cumulative influences on cultural transmission. Here increasing volatility of transmission systems is a mirror of culture change and the interaction of two resilient systems is observed.

E-books are feral print books, but both formats are resilient and both thrive in a volatile publishing ecology. A tether between resilience and community is apparent. A lurking enclave of feral characters will quickly gather, mingle, and coalesce around an opportunist format. A web of socialization accentuated by overlays of language in writing, reading and publication will emerge spontaneously. Startup communities and their enterprises build resilience into initiatives in risky environments. Within these entrepreneurial communities failure and success are a single ecosystem defined by resilience.

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