2011 Abstracts


Day 1.

EPUB – out of the box.  Bill McCoy.

EPUB is structured and semantically enhanced Web content, packaged for reliable use in interchange and delivery of digital publications.  But, in an online/browser-centric world, monolithic single-file representations of content are increasingly out of step with the focus on delivering richer experiences over distributed data sources. And the very notion of an “eBook” or “publication” as a discrete entity can be questioned in the context of a future of socially and dynamically created, assembled, and consumed content. This talk will explore the future of distributed and networked digital publications from a content representation perspective: how will we get there from today’s single-file .pdf’s and .epub’s? Will there be a role for publication-level standards in that future world?

Elegantly On- and Offline.  Blaine Cook, Maureen Evans.  [description forthcoming]

The Network is Overrated.  Eric Hellman.

What is a book, anyway? An examination of the EPUB 3 draft standard reveals that most of the differences between an EPUB book and a website boil down to one core difference: the book is self-contained. The fact of self containment is at the same time limiting and liberating. While some aspects of interaction are cut off by the self-containment, an EPUB book can be untethered from a website, just as a print book, once sold, is untethered from its publisher. The untethering of books supports new and old peer-to-peer and community interaction modes. Although network-based, tethered books can simulate these interactions, the tethering creates eavesdropping and censorship vulnerabilities. Business models such as Gluejar’s crowdfunding model have the potential to make the untethered ebook economically viable.

The Ebook’s Ambit.  Joseph Pearson.

Coming to ebooks as a web developer, my experience has been different from  those who have worked on ebooks in the context of dedicated reading devices or software. The intersection of book and web is conventionally seen as a packaged core containing web technologies to provide a useful bunch of mixins and lingua franca on which to build a compelling standalone product. My perspective has been the obverse — at Booki.sh, we’ve come to see the notion of a book as an artificial but powerful set of constraints on the website. Asking “How can I make people think of this content as a ‘book’? What would make them enjoy it in a similar way?” has introduced me to a number of difficult and still incompletely-solved problems, tethered my thinking to the basics, and sharpened an understanding of what a book is not.

Books in Browsers, 1994-2004.  Michael Jensen.

Before the pads, before the apps, before even Javascript, there were Books In Browsers.  Especially during the early years, audiences’ mental metaphors constrained what was effective (in terms of both reading models and business models), even when technologies enabled far more possibilities. An argument for constrained expectations of audience receptivity, even while laying the groundwork for future innovations, will be made.

The Future Now: The Social Book.  Bob Stein.  [description forthcoming]

Electric Incunabula: progressive interactive book design.  Corey Pressman.

The transition from hand-scribed manuscripts to printed books was marked by a quarter-century interaction design lag.  This stretch of the 15th century is known for the production of incunabula – printed books lacking the interface design advancements that have since become standard navigational features of book user experience such as page numbering, the table of contents, punctuation, and footnotes.

This lag may be attributed to market expectations – early book consumers wanted books that navigated like the manuscripts that preceded these moveable type facsimiles.  Just as early book buyers expected books to work like manuscripts, modern eBook consumers expect eBooks to work like printed books.  This has resulted in a wave of electronic incunabula – most interactive reading platforms lack interaction design innovations that take advantage of platform-specific features. Good brainstorming, user-centered design, and the application of basic interaction design principles can lead us out of the incunabula and into an era of progressive e-reading design.

Beautiful Books.  Craig Mod.  [description forthcoming]

The Infinite Canvas.  Peter Meyers.

Designers of web-based books face an elemental question: to page or to scroll? Might as well ask: Android or iPhone? This talk will help attendees understand the pros and cons of each approach. By looking at a handful of especially well-designed models from both camps (including Welcome to Pine Point and Inkling), I’ll show how each layout benefits different kinds of content and leads to different kinds of reading experiences. Along the way, I’ll look back at the historical transition from scroll to codex, review what was lost and gained during that epic change, and discuss whether the 21st century’s digital scroll is comparable to the one from ancient times. Finally, I’ll review an entirely different option—panning & zooming across an “infinite canvas”—that should prove thought provoking to partisans on both sides.


Bookmarks:  reports.  Todd Carpenter, Rob Sanderson, James Bridle, ++.

Reports from the two recent NISO/IA meetings on bookmark and annotation standards at the Frankfurt Book Fair (2011 October 10) and BiB (2011 October 26).

OPDS v1.1+.  Hadrien Gardeur.

Update on the OPDS v1.1 revision with support for faceted browse and search, and indirect acquisition.  Additional discussion of future retrieval options and serializations.

First Draft of the Revolution: discoverable narratives in digital works.  Liza Daly.

Following the model of a content author paired with a technology implementer, I commissioned an interactive piece from game designer Emily Short with three constraints: it must be primarily textual, have a clear authorial vision, and use a simple touch-based interface that could be implemented in an EPUB3  device or web browser.

First Draft of the Revolution is an epistolary story set in a parallel history in which written documents are magically linked. At the time of this writing, First Draft of the Revolution is still being finalized, but we intend to publish it as a free EPUB 3 book: to put it distinctly among other books, not games.

The presentation will cover the above topics briefly: the problems inherent in interactive narrative, a demonstration of the work, and a release of an open source framework for creating further stories with the engine. I will argue that the joy of discovery, of uncovering hidden pathways through narrative, will be the key motivator for readers of future interactive works.

Arcade: A case study in digital publishing.  Roland Greene, Marissa Gemma.

As a digital salon for the publication and exchange of new materials in the humanities, Arcade aims to create an online community of readers, brought together by curiosity, interest, or profession. In this talk, we will explore the kinds of readerly engagement opened up by several new forms of humanities writing that we’re experimenting with on our site: the peer-reviewed digital journal; the pamphlet; and the group blog. Arcade publishes only new materials (rather than, e.g., archiving extant ones), and is also unique in publishing only works that are carefully selected, or “curated,” rather than simply aggregated. As we will discuss, presenting such new works in digital forms has offered an experiment in web-native publication, creating a new kind of encounter with readers. This encounter can be usefully theorized in order to think about the wider implications of web-native publications. How, for instance, do such formats enable readers to respond to ideas and to one another across barriers not simply of time and space, but, more profoundly, of professional status and training?  In this talk, we will explore the intellectual and technical benefits and challenges inherent in the ways such publications create dynamic communities of readers.

Lagniappe: Libros digitales para todos. Martin Kalfatovic.

12% of U.S. adults currently own an e-reader; Hispanics are the largest demographic in that group with 15% owning an e-reader. Though there are many Spanish-language options available for this reading commmunity, mainstream offerings still cater to a largely English language community. Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL), as part of its efforts to move beyond page image presentation of library content, is making a focused effort to bring quality, scholarly and other materials in Spanish to the e-reading community. With a grass-roots effort to identify appropriate materials, SIL hopes to build a space where “Libros digitales para todos”.

Day 2.

Honey to Bees.  Eli James.

If we assume that the networked book is the book of the future, how are we to get there? Today’s publishing world is nothing at all like that – in fact, most writers and publishers are turning to ebooks as a next step.  This talk will focus on a few necessary things we’ll need to have in place before we achieve our ideal of the networked book. I’ll also talk a little on what I’ve found to work (and not work) while pushing Pandamian.

The Beauty of Web-first Workflows.  Hugh McGuire.

Making a book should be no harder than making a website. What is a book, after all, but a special class of website that happens to have a history of being displayed in purpose-built, paper-based browsers?

Why do we expect frameworks for building websites to output websites that are compatible with multiple browsers, whereas building books … is still a giant shambles as soon as you need to satisfy interoperability with multiple paper and non-paper browsers.

It shouldn’t be any harder to make a standards compliant book that will work in paper and non paper browsers, and some solutions to this problem should be found in the success of web-based web building frameworks, and CMSs.

Adaptive Web Design.  Pablo Defendini.

How can we apply the tenets of adaptive web design to the design of networked books, in order to ensure a highly-polished presentation in as many devices as possible? This is particularly important to explore when working with highly-designed books such as children’s books, cookbooks, etc., as well as comics and graphic narratives.

Self-publishing tools and platforms.  Miral Sattar.

BiblioCrunch.com is a digital platform that empowers writers and publishers to create and market their own digital books and bookazines.  We’re working on a crowdsourced model where anyone can create a book and get help from the community to create the best possible book. We recognize that good books not only need good content, but also superior editing, strong marketing, a well-designed and eye-catching cover, and an interested audience.

We are exploring the value of socializing the interaction between readers, bloggers, authors, students, writers, journalists, publishers, editors, and designers.  We are also exploring the value of digital book clubs for a specific author, genre, publisher, or topic.  The cloud is where the future of the books lie.

It may be a mob, but it’s my mob.  Richard Nash.

I’ll offer comprehensive analytics on RedLemona.de the site, as well as on our sales data, and provide an overview of the responses to the site by users regular and casual, giving the BiB audience a picture of a new model publisher in action. The magic of books sometimes is very quotidian, just the day-to-day accretion of comments, purchases, submissions, of writing, of reading, of editing… However the changes in expectations brought about by these changes on the culture of publishing should prove to be very far reaching, the net effect over several years being quite transformative.

Crowdsourcing Enhanced Ebooks.  Ricky Wong.

We’re acting as a broker between the author and a group of visual artist/readers to help make any book into enhanced ebooks through crowdsourcing at scale.  We’ve created an automated process to turn any epub file into an IPad/smartphone app with social and interactive feature included. The core is based on HTML5/JS with PhoneGap as a framework to package any book into a native application.

Current version [iTunes]

Original vision [YouTube]


Digital books: a new chapter for reader privacy.  Nicole Ozer.

As books go digital and it becomes increasingly possible to capture detailed information about reader identity and habits, new reader privacy issues are emerging. This presentation will discuss the latest legal and policy issues and opportunities for book industry professionals, policymakers, and public interest groups to work together to create a climate for digital books that is good for business and good for reading.

Owning and owing: balancing reader privacy and ebook business models.  Jason Schultz.

Owning books has traditionally afforded readers privacy by default. When a book is yours, no one else has a right to track or collect data about the way you read it, who you share it with, or how you dispose of it when you are done. In the age of e-books and browser-based business models, however, issues of ownership and privacy are both in flux. I’d like to engage the audience is a conversation about how we can preserve the benefits of reader privacy and book ownership via beautiful design, especially in the area of digital lending.

Books as Data.  James Bridle.  [description forthcoming]

Unlocking stories.  Valla Vakili.

Stories and books. Is their future the same or different? I can’t tell you what the future of the book will look like, but what I can tell you is what’s happening to stories as we move into the digital world.

We’re unlocking them. This is a world where stories, which have always openly influenced each other, now openly connect to each other. And where they reach outward into the world that created them; into the network of people, places and things that spur writers to write, and readers to read.

At Small Demons we call this network The Story Graph, and it’s a beautiful, distributed, coherent thing.

Beyond the Encyclopedia:  Non-linear reference works.  Gordon Mohr.

Should an online reference work aspire to the ‘encyclopedic’ standards of printed volumes? How should reference text change when modern search is assumed as the primary interface?  If opening the scope of a reference work to everything ‘true and useful’, what other constraints on contribution and exploration might prove necessary? Can a reference work that seeks to offer canonical information on many topics use the techniques of social news and social question-and-answer sites to encourage casual, incremental contributions?

What if Wikipedia before MediaWiki had started on TiddlyWiki, rather than UseModWiki?

The Infinithree Project (working title) is exploring these questions in the context of a new, Creative Commons-licensed reference work. Prelaunch discussion is occurring at http://infinithree.org. By October, public launch under a different name is likely, so all titles and themes subject to change after contact with the authordience.

COMA Voyager.  Toshiaki Koike, Daihei Shiohama.

COmmunity Media Archive: COMA.  Voyager’s departure to browser based eBook reading experience! After the 20 years of digital book voyage through its own file format for Japanese, dotbook and the viewer, T-Time, Voyager is now shifting to more open/web driven content experiences. Maintaining the integrity of “book”, integrating access to visual and music and other kinds of rich content to the “book” with social reading extensions.

Shared Canvas.  Rob Sanderson, Benjamin Albritton.

Blurring the distinction between consumption and creation, SharedCanvas provides a distributed solution for creating, consuming and re-purposing digital works following the principles of Linked Open Data .  Applying the canvas-painting paradigm of standards such as PDF, HTML5 and SVG, the solution proposes that a page be modeled as a blank canvas which is then “painted” by annotating resources on to it.

The use of annotations for the association of resources allows the canvas to never be dry and complete as further consumers might also paint resources as well as provide commentary.  The Open Annotation Collaboration ontology allows for any media type to be annotated on to any other media type, rather than strictly textual commentary, enabling images, video, audio or any other web resource to be part of the representation of the page.  The annotations can be filtered using social network based trust mechanisms in order to prevent undesirable graffiti and retain the work’s beauty and coherence.

Beautiful Art (Books).  Greg Albers.

I am the publisher of Hol Art Books and I hate art books. Art books are expensive (not accessible), heavy (not mobile), and no one reads them (not social). Our reverence for them is misplaced. Today, a book shouldn’t be beautiful for the way it’s packaged and sold, it should be beautiful for what it says and for the encounters in creates.  Encounters not only with other texts and ideas, but also with people, places and—for my field especially—objects in the real world. I hate art books, but I love art.

Competing in an Unpredictable World.  Kassia Krozser.

Creating an in-house digital-first publisher is not enough. Building a transmedia production house means competing with the motion picture and gaming industries. And the needs and expectations of readers are evolving rapidly. How can publishers compete in an unpredictable world? By building a solid foundation to support the business of today *and* tomorrow while taking a hard look at what it means to be a publisher in a networked, connected, always-on world.

Personalization in Transmedia Storytelling.  Kevin Franco.

Using past experience from our first transmedia novel and insights into our upcoming novel, we would like to share our findings. Items to be discussed would be product placement, development of other ‘stand alone’ content, merchandise and alternative distribution methods to increase fan base and transmedia category awareness.

When we talk about beautiful books, I submit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so perhaps our next transmedia experiment would be to allow such customization so that each reader got their very own experience, customized to them – by them. Customization is also one of the key ingredients for monetization.

The opportunity in Abundance.  Brian O’Leary.

Although business models have changed, publishers and their intermediaries continue to try to evolve their market roles in ways that typically follow the rules for “two-party, one-issue” negotiations.  In an environment in which the negotiations are better framed using models for “many parties, many issues”, these more limited approaches have made the design of a flawed ecosystem even worse, shifting burdens onto valued intermediaries (libraries and booksellers, among others).

Content abundance, coupled with improvements in available technologies, gives us an opportunity to reshape the competitive framework.  This talk will examine options to apply the principles of effective game design to create a set of new, targeted and evolving business models for content dissemination in an era of abundance.


EPUB4: Engineering the networked experience.  Bill McCoy.  Lunchtime discussion.