2013 Abstracts

Click the name of the presenter to go to their talk’s abstract.

Adam Hyde Allen Tan Anna Von Veh
Anthon Astrom & Lukas Zimmer Baldur Bjarnason Corey Pressman
Dan Whaley & Jake Hartnell Dominique Cunin Gerardo Capiel
Jason Merkoski John Maxwell & Haig Armen Justo Hidalgo
Kate Pullinger Keith Fahlgren & Peter Collingridge Mandy Brown
Manuel Schmalstieg Peter Armstrong Peter Haasz
Richard Nash Robert Glushko Kathi Fletcher
Bill MCCoy Steve Woodall & Clifton Meador


Adam Hyde, Booksprints
The Death of the Reader

Readers are increasingly creating and changing the narrative of books,
 actively blurring the distinction between author and reader. This not
 only effects narrative but economic models, myths of single authorship,
 production models, and questions about conflations of practices such as
 publishing (books) and exporting (files). In this talk, Adam will look at
 practices which relocate the reader as the protagonist in content
 *creation* and how that makes non-sense of legacy publishing and
 new-sense of emerging paradigms.

Allen Tan, New York Times
Beyond Intuitive UI: Design Considerations for Attention, Rhythm, and Weight.

The past year has seen widespread experimentation in storytelling that 
brings together different types of media with text and interaction.
 Hopefully, these forms will continue to diverge as they respond to the 
particulars of the content housed within them. What will remain the 
same, though, are the considerations in designing the reader’s
 experience. What do “intuitive” and “immersive” really mean, and how do
 designers manage attention, rhythm, and weight when designing
 interactive reading systems?

Anna Von Veh, Say Books
Beyond the Text – Writing Undercover on the Web

One of the distinguishing features of fan fiction is that it begins and
exists online. While the source stories come from many media, including
 TV shows, films, and books, the fan writing, reading, and interaction 
happen primarily on the Internet. The online environment arguably
 provides greater opportunities for a broader range of storytelling and
 engagement with media and culture, and immediate conversations with 
readers, than is generally possible in a traditional book. Where the
 book format (print or ebook) creates physical boundaries to the content,
 and asserts authorial and publishing control over text, the open-ended
 form of the Internet removes the ‘physical’ boundaries and also allows 
for the textual ‘instability’ that underpins fan fiction. In this 
presentation, Ms. von Veh explore how writers of fan fiction, who come from a
 range of ages, backgrounds, and proficiencies, use a variety of online
 writing platforms and media to enhance their storytelling, and create vibrant communities of readers and writers. In an increasingly online
 world, we may need to let go of traditional publishing boundaries of
 ownership, control and format to fully realise the potential of the text.

Anthon Astrom and Lukas Zimmer, Astrom/Zimmer

There’s no denying that Content has become flighty. Digital information is by default non-static – it’s collections of boolean values, presented in a certain constellation every time it’s called upon, subject to the specific environment into which it’s being rendered. In the Age of Books, the publishing process was pretty straight-forward: An author gathered information and reassembled it between page 1 and x; the publisher packaged these pages, and distributed them to an audience of readers, who at least had a clear incentive to read them from beginning to end. More importantly, the bound book was contextualised by catalogues, blurbs, forewords and reference lists, every chapter by the index, and any given sentence by the ones that came before and after.As this staticity has given way to liquid bits, forever re-rendered within new reading environments, the author’s intended context is, if not completely gone, at least seriously compromised. Of course, we’ve come up with numerous methods for creating new, ever relevant and instantly adjustable contexts (Infovis, feeds, hyperlinks), but these are technical shortcuts, disregarding the conceptual and subjective flavours that enriched static, physical publications.We’d like to talk about why we think context needs more attention, and why a degree of blurriness might actually help make things clearer. We’d like to talk about gradients, maps and photographs, and where they intersect. We’d also like to show some possible steps in a new direction, and how with extremely simple tweaks and a good bit of courage, we might be able to avoid an impending excellification of human knowledge.

Baldur Bjarnason, Unbound
Interactivity is What You Do

‘Snowfalling’ is one way to go. Done right it results in an engaging and 
immersive narrative that transfixes readers. It marries the best of 
print aesthetics to digital media.

 But, what if you want to do something more digital? Something 
interactive? What if you don’t want to do a linear piece all glossed up in 
fancy magazine-inspired decoration and layout? What if you want to go 

 Find out what is possible; what narrative and design tactics the web 
lends itself to; what interactive forms, structures, and tactics aid the 
exploration of complex stories.

Corey Pressman, Exprima Media
Designing on the Edge: Digital Paratext and the New Reading

A book’s paratext consists of those things that surround and support 
the content: the book cover, dedication, typography, book reviews,
   shelf placement, etc.  Book scholar Girard Genette points out that 
these ‘marginal’ elements are actually central to a book’s reception and
 interpretation.  Indeed, the loss of this paratext as books become
 digital has caused a lot of anxiety.  This talk encourages us to craft a
 new digital paratext that makes true on the promise of the binary
 revolution. Innovative story-telling contexts like the New York Times’
/Snowfall/ and /Hollow: An interactive Documentary/ provide promising
 examples of the way forward.

Dan Whaley and Jake Hartnell, Hypothes.is
Annotation, Data, and the Living (“e”) Book

This talk will focus on how to gain powerful insights from annotation
 data and the amazing benefits of publishing on the web. It will explore
two notable open source projects (Epub.js
<https://github.com/fchasen/epub.js>and Hypothes.is
<http://hypothes.is/>), and discuss the implications of new technologies
 for content creation and the future of publishing.

Dominique Cunin, EnsAD
Mobilizing : Mobile Screens and Artistic Practices

Mobilizing is an experimental computer programming language destined for authors without specific computer programming expertise and who wish to include mobile screens in their artistic practice. We began this research project around 2008 and the language capabilities evolved enough to be used during various workshops or for the creation of mobile screens oriented art pieces. With Book Tales, a series of interactive tableaux we produced with Mobilizing on iPad, the intentions of the language’s different integrated functionalities can be fully appreciated. From a theoretical point of view, this research led us to redefine the notion of “image-object” and the renewed relationship between the screen, the hand manipulating it and the image it displays that nowadays mobile screens can provide.

Gerardo Capiel, Benentech
Bom Accessible

Thirty million Americans have a print disability and 285 million around
the world have a vision impairment. A revolutionary international treaty
to ensure that people around the world with print disabilities will
have access to content in formats they need was finalized this summer,
making the imperative to provide accessible content even more global and
pressing. How can existing and emerging content providers and platforms 
ensure that content being created today is truly usable by everyone who
is interested in it? In this session, Benetech will discuss the key 
tenets and technology enablers of the “Born Accessible” proposition.
   This proposition encourages content creators to make their born
digital content simultaneously accessible and creates an ecosystem of
content tools, readers and standards that allows that content to be
found, read, shared and remixed. Making content “born accessible” means
that the often prohibitive cost of time and resources required to
retrofit content for accessibility is eliminated. We’ll demo content
accessibility best practices, discovery through accessibility metadata,
and how the BiB community members can build accessibility best practices
into their tools and platforms. Specifically, we’ll cover ways you can
leverage the groundbreaking work being done today to make creating
accessible content easier:

  • accessibility metadata being adopted right now that helps connect
 readers with formats that fit their needs
  • authoring tools you can adopt, contribute to, and be inspired by for
 improving image accessibility
  • emerging tools for tacklingthe challenge of accessible math, a
 barrier especially to fully accessible science and technology content

Jason Merkoski, BookGenie451
Books (and Readers) in Browsers

Former Amazon evangelist and founder of BookGenie451 talks about how to apply Big Data to publishing. In the era of web-connected social networks where we can mine user data, how can we mine book data, and merge the two together into a browser-based experience?

John Maxwell, Simon Fraser University, and Haig Armen, Lift Studios
The Craft of the Book in the Age of the Web

There seems to be a fair bit of consensus in this community that books need browsers; the bigger question is whether browsers need books? The web is boundless; James Bridle and others have made a compelling argument that tells us that literature has moved beyond the work, and now resides in the Network. But as teachers—John in publishing and Haig in design—we worry sometimes that publishing and the tradition of the book are parting ways. There is a vast and valuable craft tradition in and around the book. Publishing is and has always been a craft–in a special category distinct from both art and industry. A craft is taught, and learned; it is collaborative: sometimes between master and apprentice; sometimes between peers; sometimes between creators and readers, too. What makes a craft tradition possible is a common language and the possibility of an ongoing discourse. In our teaching, this is foundational: the common discourse which shapes and enables practice, and is in turn shaped by it. Have we lost sight of the craft tradition of the age of the web? If so, what happens to that wealth of knowledge and wisdom? Or is that tradition migrating to new contexts—in which case, what is lost and what is gained in translation?

Justo Hidalgo, 24 Symbols
A Pragmatic Trip Towards a Vision: Is a ‘Books as a Service’ Platform Meaningful in Tomorrow’s Publishing World?

The vision of building a platform from which different stakeholders can build book-related services and applications in a quicker and more efficient manner is not new, as academia and other publishing experts have already done some thinking about it. But through a path that was not intended when 24symbols started, we might be closer to this vision than what we thought, by building a ‘Book as a Service’ engine. Growing as a company by offering eBook subscription services through mobile carriers and other entities, has required our technical architecture to evolve so new and changing reading apps and services can be rapidly built. Though in the short term this set of functionalities is intended to be used just for the needs and requirements we have, it is more and more clear this layer could potentially be useful to other developers, publishers, publishing associations, researchers or even authors. The vision and the oath will be explained during the talk, and the major technical, legal, political and business-related questions will be asked to the audience in order to fully understand the implications, potential and challenges of a fully available ‘Book as a Service’ platform.

Kate Pullinger, Bath Spa University
Landing Gear: A Writer, A Novel, A Publisher, An API.

Kate Pullinger has been writing novels, and co-creating multimedia digital narratives, for many years; these two modes of writing and publishing have resided in parallel universes, with little crossover between the aging galaxy of traditional publishing and the newly created planet of digital fiction. Until now! Pullinger’s new novel, Landing Gear, which itself grew up out of a collaborative digital fiction project, Flight Paths, will be offered up at BiB’s first ever Hackday as an API, in partnership with Pullinger’s Canadian publisher, Doubleday. In her talk, Pullinger will discuss how this literary novel will become a Writeable API.

Keith Falgren and Peter Collingridge, Safari
Believing in Robots

In the 80 years since Asimov wrote his Three Laws of Robotics, the relationship between humans and software has matured and morphed. Safari Books Online’s Keith Fahlgren and Peter Collingridge love robots and will share the toys they use at work to help develop better products and delight readers.

Mandy Brown, Editorially
Writing and Editing in the Browser

In 2010, Mandy Brown joined Jason Santa Maria and Jeffrey Zeldman to
 create A Book Apart: a series of short books for people who make
 websites. Starting out as a side project, A Book Apart soon grew
 into a successful small press and today has published nine books,
 with many more on the way. Work on A Book Apart naturally led the
 team to think about the process, and in particular, their
 disillusionment with the tools that supported the editorial
 workflow. From that discontent grew the seeds of Editorially, a
 platform for collaborative writing. Based on the belief that writing
 gets better with company, and that everyone can and should write
 better, Editorially takes a web-first approach to writing and
 editing. Mandy Brown will talk about how Editorially came to be,
 what the team has learned so far, and where they are headed next.

Manuel Schmalstieg, MS Studio
A Book Isn’t A Book Isn’t A Book

Would a time-traveling author from the past centuries stumble upon our
everyday read/write tools, he would envision a techno-utopia that allows
anyone to act as an archivist, librarian, content curator, or publisher.
But the electronic publishing disruption comes with a couple of
side-effects: print-on-demand spam is sneaking into our search queries,
massively distributed authorship is taking the infinite monkey theorem
at face value, while a generation of writers is turning SEO-aware.

In that context, Greyscale Press – a post-digital publishing house – is
crafting book-like artifacts, merging the toolsets inherited from 20th
century modernist avantgardes, post-structuralism, the free software and
copyleft movement, up to the latest crop of crypto- and cypherpunk

Peter Armstrong, Leanpub
Lean Publishing Lessons Learned at Leanpub: Why publish in-progress ebooks? What works? What doesn’t?

Lean Publishing is the act of publishing an in-progress ebook using lightweight tools and many iterations to get reader feedback, pivot until you have the right book and build traction once you do. The key mission of Leanpub is to make using this process as easy and simple as possible, for both authors and publishers. If publishing a new ebook version in PDF, EPUB and MOBI is fully automated, with one button click, then you can experiment more. Now, over the past few years of Leanpub, we’ve seen a lot of experiments, and we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. This is subject of this talk: What is Lean Publishing? Where did the ideas come from? What works? What doesn’t? What is Leanpub’s role? How do we see publishing evolving? Peter Armstrong is the co-founder of Leanpub, and the author of Lean Publishing, Hello! Flex 4 and Flexible Rails. Peter coined the term Lean Publishing, has written a manifesto about it, and is writing an in-progress ebook about it. Leanpub was founded based on the principles in this manifesto.

Peter Haasz, OverDrive
The Blind Men and the Elephant

When publishers distribute ebooks as files, they do so with an
 implied request to the retailer: “please transform this into a
 reading experience.” For largely commercial reasons, and despite the
 best efforts of the IDPF and W3C, a reader’s experience of an ebook
 depends on where they purchased it.

 What if, instead of files, publishers delivered ebooks as fully
 formed reading experiences via self-contained web services?

 By taking back responsibility for the whole book — which in the
 print world always included the reading system — could publishers
 deliver a more compelling experience, more faithfully and
 efficiently, across different channels?

 Would we see publishers developing better ways of reading special
 types of content, such as cookbooks, textbooks and travel guides?
 Would this narrow the gap we see between the type of innovation we
 see on the open web, and the type of innovation we see in ebooks?

 How would such a scheme work for distributors and retail channels?
 Would it reduce barriers to market entry and consumer switching
 costs, thus increasing competition? What other roles might emerge in
     the value chain? What new opportunities and challenges might emerge
 for our standards bodies?
 Is this a good idea, and could it actually work?

Richard Nash, Cursor Books
The Business of Culture in Our Post-Industrial Times

Media business models and intellectual property regimes are currently 
based on the economics of the mass-produced thing, originating with the 
book. The public allowed specialist companies to control the creative 
output for society because it required a great deal of capital to make 
the work available to the public. Copyright ensured that 
printer/publishers could obtain a return on their investment. As the 
book dematerializes into the browser, undermining the enforceability of 
copyright, and as 3D printing allows all manufacturing to become 
personal, what might the new business models for culture and creativity 
look like? I look both backwards to Kinko’s/laserprinter/Pagemaker zine 
culture and forward to 3D printing to try to ascertain some lessons.

Robert Glushko, School of Information
UC Berkeley Collaborative Authoring, Use, and Maintenance of a Multidisciplinary “E-Textbook”

A multidisciplinary textbook faces the challenge of satisfying the need 
for breadth, to represent all the disciplines that contribute to it,
without compromising the need for depth, to treat each contributing
 discipline in a substantive way. We met this challenge in a text called
 “The Discipline of Organizing” with several innovations in book design.
The key idea was to write the book as a “core” text with hundreds of
 supplemental endnotes tagged by discipline, effectively creating a
 family of related texts suitable for different courses and perspectives.
This book architecture lends itself to implementation in ebook formats,
 and it also implies a clear path for evolving the book and ebooks over
time. In this session the lead author and editor of the book describes
 the processes and principles needed to create, deploy, and maintain it.

 Robert J. Glushko is an Adjunct Full Professor at the University of
California, Berkeley in the School of Information.Before coming to
Berkeley in 2002, he spent a decade in Silicon Valley, where he founded
or co-founded four companies in the areas of electronic publishing and
e-business. He previously worked in corporate R&D and consulting, mostly
at Bell Laboratories.He has a PhD in cognitive psychology from the
University of California, San Diego and an MS in Software Engineering
from the Wang Institute.

Kathi Fletcher, Shuttleworth Foundation
Textbooks in Browsers: An Editor for Creating, Adapting, and Sharing

OERPUB is creating an open-source editor for textbook authoring that lets authors create, adapt, and remix textbooks that display well in the browser, on mobile devices, and in print. The editor supports mathematics, accessible images and tables, and structured features like definitions and exercises, using a constrained subset of HTML5. We just got back from South Africa where teachers sprinted to create two new high school textbooks in Chemistry and Physics using original content and content from Siyavula and OpenStax College textbooks. We will demonstrate the editor and report on the textbook sprint in South Africa.

Bill McCoy, IDPF
The Inhuman Future of Digital Reading

Digital books and other publications are being consumed not only by linear visual reading a la paper, but also (increasingly, mostly) in a wide variety of other ways, by software agents as well as software-assisted individuals: aural consumption, on-the-fly translation, automated processing for discovery, search, summarization, topic analysis, remixing, and other uses. While eBook websites and apps are designed for human users, the underlying content they traffic in must be structured appropriately for these functions to be enabled, and for content to flow across systems and platforms. This talk will cover challenges and emerging solutions for representing publication-level content as interoperable machine-processable data that also facilitates delivering rich, interactive experiences.

Steve Woodall and Clifton Meador, Columbia College Chicago
Artists Books Reborn: New Platforms and the Meaning of Materiality

The Radical Publishing Project, a new initiative at Columbia College Chicago, is intended to open dialogue on the fundamental nature of publishing today and in the future. The project is broad-based, but one of its source points is an NEA-funded program at the college’s Center for Book and Paper Arts, “Expanded Artists’ Books: Envisioning the Future of the Book.” Created as works of art, artists’ books widen the definition of authorship to include not only text but also visual form and design. These are expressive, dedicated objects, where every aspect of the book – text, image, materials, design, structure – contributes to a unified expression of concept. The Expanded Artists’ Books (EAB) project republishes artists’ books, with media augmentation, as apps for Internet-connected tablets, and in a second phase commissions media artists to create born-digital works with parallel iterations as physical books. The apps will be distributed free as a way of giving the art form greater accessibility. EAB is showing great promise in its early stages, with potential for pushing an evolutionary leap in the practice, and we are now at work to establish a publishing platform to sustain it – while both questioning and asserting the meaning and value of materiality in the future of distributed art, literature, and information.