Bookcamp: Designing the socialised book

by Suw on January 17, 2009

Interested in paper books, and how to turn the into social objects. They are very social things all ready – people pass them on, each one is the same, they last a long time. But what would you do if you designed a book to be a social object.

Designing a book to read includes format, sturdiness, how easy it is to pass on, reuse of pages. One problem with passing books on is that some people underline things. Would have liked to undo that. Kind of binding – how well does it last.

Designing books for groups is interesting. How do you design books you can point at, lowest level is an ISBN, standard reference. Pages don’t have permalinks, but books do. Harder then to delve further inside, makes annotation hard. Would like to link to a page an permalink it. Want to share pages with people who don’t have the book, have a universal reference to a page that shows it but without the rest of the book (say).

Thinking of books as an instance. In object oriented programming, objects have classes. So where do you draw the line between a book and my book, or my book and the book (the canonical book).

What about a connected book, e.g. tracking reading progress, Bkkpr, (“book keeper”) which keeps track of what page you’re on, and compares it to other people.

Books designed to be torn apart have perforations, so what are the digital perforation?

History? Who bought it and when? Who bought it for me and when? When did the front cover fall off? How can you embed that history in? What can RFID do? Could have history of all owners, readers could embed their history into the book, so that poeple can see what happened to the book, what are the stories of the book?

BookCrossing is a bit like that, but much more lo-fi. Dating site for the books themselves, book asa travelling artefact that exists between owners. If you wanted to design a book that would be easy to transmit around, or easy to site, or easy to disassemble and give to people.

What happens if you look the book up? The book owner? Annotations?

Books are more social now than music, can’t “rip” them like you can with CDs, can only give away and buy a new copy.

Golden Notebook. Collective reading, and collective annotation. Page numbers different in British, American, online, but has been paginated to understand all of them. Oneline is only one edition, have to take into account the previous editions, previous introductions.

All that a book can do is capture knowledge or ideas at one time. How does a book keep on living, how do books update with new information. Could you create a bottomless digital post-it note.

Interesting to contextualise a book within a publisher’s entire list, or library presence.

Tech is an easy way to do it on the site, don’t want to focus on it solely, as have to connect digital to the physical. Book is more portable and distributable so offering similar level of interactivity to digital.

Tear-off pages with unique URLs that allow you to pass it on to another person.

David Grey design book, you can download it in beta, and can see what he’s doing and contribute.

Like the idea of slower things. Dawdler instead of Twitter.

Do you want something to be updated or do you want it to be marked in time. People will cross things out in a book if it’s out of date or inaccurate. People should be empowered to make these change and feed them back.

But equally, don’t want someone else’s marginalia. Has a dogear system, so turned corners at the top are for notes, at the bottom of the page are for quotes.

Book as part of an ecosystem of information. Place the book in a context. Even as simple as URLs for. That’s relatively easy to do – create a wiki and let people add information.

Need chapter points and scene points to help split the book into bits, which would hang on to a canonical version. But a book doesn’t have page numbers until it’s printed.

Translations, books exist in different languages.

Same in films or music. When does a song track become a new song?

Books are republished so often but with few changes.

Different reason to socialise a club. Book clubs, or family, books move between members of small groups. Also stuff that is of broader interest.

Sharing “my” book to create “our” book. The canonical version is kinda missing from the industry – there is no “the” book. Or is this systamatising a bit unfriendly?

People don’t always read as much as us book geek. Would want to build up an ecosystem around the one book that one person read that year.

Biographies, for example, some people like biographies and will read every biography about one person and then start comparing and contrasting. How do you facilitate that sort of behaviour.

How do you introduce books to people, e.g. if someone watches a programme about the Tudors and then wants to find out how much of that is true. Would be nice to be able to take all the research that went into that programme and make it available – that research has a purpose beyond the simple making of the show.

Social web and sociable web are different things. Placing a book as a high level object…

The missing link bewtween being told about a book, and actually remembering it and buying (or being given) it, and then passing it on to someone else.

Book groups, be nice to get the group’s annotations appended to the book. Process of reading isn’t just about reading, but about discussing and learning and understanding. Be nice to have that as an appendix you could attach to the back. A book that you could attach things to, expandable book that’s designed to have stuff added to it.

Best books to study are the ones with the biggest margins and biggest spaces to write in. Different book designs work differently, editions designed to be drawn on, or written on, rather than just read.

Not just sharing the book, sharing the reading experience. What’s a book that’s designed to be shared, that encourages discussion, and then gives you the way to have that discussion.

To see contentious issues marked in the book, a socialised filter you can switch on.

Best things to do with a book is to lend them.

People like the serendipity. Has to be casual, don’t want to make it difficult. Non-invasive, things that won’t stop people buying it.

Amazon have made it easier to buy, to wish for, to give, to refer to books. Bring value to the physical book.

Competing things to be the MusicBrainz for books.

Libraries. People’s experience of books is sometimes transitory, so it’s be nice to be able to leave notes without defacing the book.

Niki Costantini January 21, 2009 at 9:10 am

Interesting points. I’d only add the chance of geotagging a book. For instance, I’d love to see on a map and on dedicated web pages all the narrative places of a novel (included addresses and such), together with the chance to connect to a gps tracker system, guiding you through city sighting.

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