Posts tagged “reading ahead”

The Future of the Book, you say? [2013 edition]

Reading ahead
In 2010, we conducted a public-facing study about the future of books and reading, called Reading Ahead. We raised many fascinating questions including the design implications for the digital book experience: which elements of the traditional experience should move forward and which should be left behind.

Looking at the issue a few years later is the New York Times, with Out of Print, Maybe, but Not Out of Mind

Some functions of physical books that seem to have no digital place are nevertheless being retained. An author’s autograph on a cherished title looked as if it would become a relic. But Apple just applied for a patent to embed autographs in electronic titles. Publishers still commission covers for e-books even though their function — to catch the roving eye in a crowded store — no longer exists.

What makes all this activity particularly striking is what is not happening. Some features may be getting a second life online, but efforts to reimagine the core experience of the book have stumbled. Dozens of publishing start-ups tried harnessing social reading apps or multimedia, but few caught on.

Much of the design innovation at the moment, Mr. Brantley believes, is not coming from publishers, who must still wrestle with delivering both digital and physical books. Instead it is being developed by a tech community that “doesn’t think about stories as the end product. Instead, they think about storytelling platforms that will enable new forms of both authoring and reading.”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] 5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet [Wired.com] – [Echoes the work we did in our 2010 Reading Ahead project, "The unabridged reading experience includes crucial events that take place before and after the elemental moments of eyes-looking-at-words" http://www.portigal.com/blog/reading-ahead-research-findings/] E-books are still falling short of a promise to make us forget their paper analogs. For now, you still lose something by moving on. I have never owned an e-book reader, because I have an ingrained opposition to single-purpose devices. But since getting an iPad on day one, I haven’t purchased a print edition of anything for myself. I am hooked — completely one with the idea that books are legacy items that may never go away, but have been forever marginalized as a niche medium. With that in mind, however, here are five things about e-books that might give you pause about saying good riddance to the printed page. 1) An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it…5)E-books can’t be used for interior design.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] Status displays: I’ve got you labelled [The Economist] – [Evolutionary biology helps to explain why luxury branded objects, even counterfeit ones, are so appealing.] DESIGNERS of fancy apparel would like their customers to believe that wearing their creations lends an air of wealth, sophistication and high status. And it does—but not, perhaps, for the reason those designers might like to believe, namely their inherent creative genius. A new piece of research confirms what many, not least in the marketing departments of fashion houses, will long have suspected: that it is not the design itself that counts, but the label.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Future of Books. [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – [As usual, McSweeney's does razor-sharp mockery, but you could read this as straight-ahead prediction and it would sadly almost pass for believable] 2050: Analog Reading Will Be Digitally Simulated. As people spend more and more of time immersed in massively multi-player role-playing games, they will begin to crave some downtime. Virtual simulation worlds will start to include hideaway "libraries" you can lock yourself into. There you'll be able to climb into a virtual bath and lovingly turn the pages of a pixilated representation of one of those dog-eared tomes—reliant on old-school linear narrative— that by this time will have been made illegal in the real world. Perfectly reproduced will be the sensation of turning the pages, the crack of the spine, and even the occasional paper cut.
  • [from steve_portigal] When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Fascinating cultural history] The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before WW I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out. In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says..Nowadays people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance, says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian & author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America. Thus we see a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl. [Via @boingboing]
  • [from steve_portigal] In Sweden’s frigid north, auto testing is hot [SFGate] – [Obvious car companies do a ton of lab and simulation testing, but they are also big advocates of real world testing] Arjeplog, a region in northern Sweden is is important to car makers eager to optimize their vehicles for driving in extreme weather, This winter, temperatures have hovered around -4 F, making ice on the lakes consistently thick enough for driving. About 180 engineers convened at the test center at one point this season to work on making cars more fuel-efficient in cold weather and to optimize their anti-spin function. While Arjeplog is the world's largest winter testing area, rival locations include Ivalo, Finland; West Yellowstone, Mont.; Carson City, Nev.; and Millbrook, England. Francisco Carvalho, an analyst at IHS Automotive, says such tracks provide automakers with "the ultimate test for the little things they can't detect or predict in a lab." Almost 9,000 car industry officials visit Arjeplog each winter, with about 2,800 engineers working on any given day.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins [NYTimes.com] – [While there's a bit of 'Death of Print! Oh noes!' at work here, the impact of digital technology on archiving is, in general, a mounting challenge (and frequent blog fodder)] Twain was engaging in marginalia, writing comments alongside passages and sometimes giving an author a piece of his mind. It is a rich literary pastime, sometimes regarded as a tool of literary archaeology, but it has an uncertain fate in a digitalized world. “People will always find a way to annotate electronically,” said G. Thomas Tanselle, a former vice president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an adjunct professor of English at Columbia University. “But there is the question of how it is going to be preserved. And that is a problem now facing collections libraries.” [Thanks, Stacey G.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Bidder wins `lucky’ car registration number 16 for cool $8.5m [The Standard] – [Arbitrary extrinsic value for meaningful symbols, albeit for charity] Suen was willing to shell out such a large sum because 16 is his lucky number. More than HK$18.5 million was raised at the auction, where the proceeds go to charity. Suen also tried to get 668 as a gift for his wife but was outbid by number plate collector Ngan Man-hon, who paid HK$3 million for it. Ngan said that he liked 668 as it sounds auspicious in Cantonese. In recent years lucky car plates have become popular among mainland collectors so the prices for the better ones remain high….The sale trumped Saturday's auction under the Personalized Vehicle Registration Marks Scheme. Then, car plate B0NUS was sold for HK$220,000 while 201314, which sounds similar to "Love you forever" in Putonghua, went for HK$22,000…Suen's lucky number trails 18 and 9, which were sold for HK$16.5 million in 2008 and HK$13 million in 1994, respectively. The third most expensive number was 2, which went for HK$9.5 million in 1993.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Apple Says Chinese Supplier Made Changes After Suicides [NYTimes.com] – [The awkward truths revealed by increased transparency around our fancy gadgets is a topic we've discussed before. Here, Apple's investigation is admirable, but hotlines and nets to catch suicidal employees do not seem to be adequate solutions reaching towards the core of the problem.] Apple said that Mr. Cook and a team of independent suicide prevention experts conducted a review of Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen in June and made a series of recommendations. Mr. Cook and the team also reviewed changes that Foxconn had put in place, which included “hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center and even attaching large nets to the factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides,” Apple said in the report. “The investigation found that Foxconn’s response had definitely saved lives.” Apple said it recommended areas for improvement, including “better training of hotline staff and care center counselors and better monitoring to ensure effectiveness.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Create with people, really! [InternetActu.net] – [Google Translate excerpt from a French review of our innovation session at Lift11] But this is not the most important, says Steve Portigal, because all these methods can be acquired by whoever wishes. No, the most important thing is to change the culture, the process by which we do things. "Companies often think they know the problem and are confident they know to solve it, better than anyone." It is their products, services, customers, suppliers, engineers … But a little humility does not hurt, the consultant recognizes the height of his experience "It is actually rather sit back and see that the problem is not what we thought. We must confront the ambiguity and be tolerant to other approaches, to reach the measure of data (and methods). "
  • [from steve_portigal] Shorter E-Books Show Promise for Mobile Devices [NYTimes.com] – [In ReadingAhead we called for the creation of *digital* reading experiences] The Atavist is (publishing) stories that are longer than a typical article but shorter than a novel ­ in the hope that they will find a home on the glassy screens of mobile devices. The dimensions of mobile devices are quite limited. So it’s important to exploit the advantages that the devices do have. Success depends on thinking beyond a “one-to-one transition from book to e-book,” and on doing more than replacing paper with pixels. The Atavist integrates clever tools into the text, like interactive timelines and character biographies to help a reader quickly find her place without spoiling the plots…But it’s much too early to know whether the Atavist and its brethren will become permanently rooted in our reading culture or become a “fossil, embedded in the archaeology of the medium of reading…We are seeing a new category take shape that reflects a new paradigm of what it means to read on a new device.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Geneva and Lyon, 2011 [a set on Flickr] – [Photos from my trip to Geneva (with a side trip to Lyon) for Lift11]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading – This week Lift is launching a new project: Le Laboratoire des Nouvelles Lectures (LNL) – a community centered around the future of reading. LNL is an open platform designed to inspire and incubate new forms of reading experiences based on all the new technologies now available. The LNL is an initiative of the Salon du Livre et de la Presse de Geneve (the Geneva Book Fair), and is produced by LIFT, Edipresse and Bookapp.com.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Tablets Rekindle Our Love of Reading–Books, Too [Fast Company] – [MFD is used here by the survey companies Brock Associates and iModerate Research Technologies – quite a name, that one! – to signify a Multi-Function Device which includes ebook readers as well as tablets. And possibly smartphones. You know, personal electronic devices. Mobile technology. We don't know what to call things anymore. In any case, here's more research to suggest that though people enjoy reading on and read more on their "MFDs," it's an additive effect, encouraging non-digital reading activity as well. Ereading does not replace non-ereading. Reading begets reading.] Despite the fact that the survey showed MFD users had great "affinity" for their devices, "struggling to to come up with significant shortcomings to reading ebooks on them" they were also inspired to read more old-school books. Perhaps they were reminded of the pleasures of reading, and were reluctant to haul their Kindle into the bath with them for a book-accompanied relaxing soak?

Steve interviewed in Digital Book World

I was interviewed for an article in Digital Book World. Anne Kostick and I spoke about the Reading Ahead project and what has or hasn’t changed since then. The whole article is online but here’s an excerpt:

We discussed what’s happened in the months since the project ended more than a year ago. Although the study gathered great feedback from individuals and professionals, he still doesn’t see a lot of people trying to really rethink what it means for “analog activity to become digital activity.”

Still, the primary goal of digital-book development should be creating good user experiences: creating things people can use that don’t disappoint on some social, physical, or conceptual level that the designers and manufacturers hadn’t known about or taken into account.

There exist, of course, basic principles, but Portigal notes that “we’re at that inflection point where we bring our analog expectations to digital. It’s hard to adopt new technology if it’s not done really well, and we don’t have a model for a digital reading experience.

“New behaviors are emerging as a result of digital experience,” he explained. We can handle operations that change-for example, that have preference settings-and there are actions that are moot now (for example, removing the jacket from a hardcover book before reading). But there’s so much potential for new functions and innovations; are readers ready for that? They lose something from not having the physical book, but don’t yet know how much they may have to gain.

Portigal suggests we tease and challenge the reader to learn more about what a digital reading experience can offer, and then let us know how they like or dislike a feature. Maybe readers will be able to navigate content based on reading expectations: What kinds of books do people read in bed? before sleeping? In transit? Readers may want to choose their content based on feeling, word length, density of prose, device and platform, for different situations and activities.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The future of books is a real page-turner [Sydney Morning Herald] – [With so much prognostication going on, this government effort to foster a conversation about the future of books is refreshing] When in electronic form, storytelling may benefit in ways that no one can yet articulate. This is one reason why the Book Industry Strategy Group, established last year by Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, is seeking public submissions about the future of the industry. It is seeking ideas from writers, educators, librarians, publishers, retailers and – most importantly – readers about how to enhance the Australian publishing industry as an important sector of our economy, society and culture. Will the "deregulation" of the publishing industry, where anyone can self-publish, result in more stories of highly variable quality? Of course it will – just as the printing press did. But it may lead to some new and innovative ways of storytelling, ways that engage the reader in different or deeper ways. [Thanks, Wyatt!!]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Romance Books Are Hot in the E-Reading Market [NYTimes.com] – [We've commented extensively on how printed books are a means of conveying identity by displaying a key to their contents; something that is lost with e-books. Now here's an example where that limitation provides a benefit] Sarah Wendell is passionate about romance novels. Except for the covers, with their images of sinewy limbs, flowing, Fabio-esque locks or, as she put it, “the mullets and the man chests “They are not always something that you are comfortable holding in your hand in public,” Ms. Wendell said. So she began reading e-books, escaping the glances and the imagined snickers from strangers on the subway, and joining the many readers who have traded the racy covers of romance novels for the discretion of digital books.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] You’re Reading That Book Too? Marry Me: How Young People and Online Dating Services Look for Love Matches Based on Reading Habits or Artistic Pursuits [WSJ.com] – [As we spend time on social networks announcing what we "like" this seems an obvious extension] alikewise.com, a free dating site that matches singles based on books and has amassed 4,000 users, mostly in their 20s and early 30s, since it launched in July. The site facilitates matchmaking by notifying users when someone adds a book of the same title or genre….The focus on matching people based on what they've read (or what they'd like to read) could change the online dating lexicon from "she's hot" to "she's interesting."…But are books really a Rorschach test for compatibility? Dennis Palumbo, a psychotherapist and author of the novel "Mirror Image," believes people in their 20s and 30s are too concerned with shared interests, as evidenced by the growing number of niche dating sites. "As we get older, we want a kind, caring person who cares how we feel," he says. Not necessarily someone who has read "The Cornish Trilogy." [via Springwise]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] a new analog take on the book [Influxinsights] – [In our Reading Ahead project we encouraged designers and publishers to consider the possibilities for design in the traditional book, and not just focus on what digital can bring. So this was exciting to see!] These are reactions to a radical new book design from Visual Editions, a UK based publisher with a new take on the reading experience. The book is "Tree of Codes" and it's author Jonathan Safran Foer's experiment to cut-in, using die-cuts to his favorite book, "The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schultz.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] book lovers never go to bed alone – [A Tumblr blog consisting only of photos of bookshelves, from homes and bookstores. Why? Because they can.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Ideal Bookshelf – [More examples of books as a identity system] This is an ongoing project called "Ideal Bookshelf". I paint sets of books as a form of portraiture: a person's favorites (of all time, within a genre or from a particular period in their lives); the ones that helped make them who they are today. We show off our books on shelves like merit badges (the ones not on our Kindle, at least), because we're proud of the ideas we've ingested to make us who we are, as we should be. The spine of a book is a sort of code for the giant cloud of ideas the author included within it. Just ten of them together on a sheet of paper tells the story of the mind that picked them in a way that is easily digestible but allows for endless study. We also display our books hoping to connect with others. When I paint someone else's bookshelf and they have the same book I do, it instantly makes me happy.
  • [from steve_portigal] Mr. Peanut’s New Look? Planters Went Old School [NYTimes.com] – Mr. Peanut is getting a voice as part of efforts to revitalize the character and brand for contemporary consumers. [Also] a new look, meant to give him a more authentic appearance by evoking designs of the character from the 30s & 40s. He is now brown, rather than yellow, and sports a gray flannel suit…Nostalgia is not what it used to be, particularly when it comes to younger consumers, so the goal is to be perceived not as old-fashioned but rather as old-school ­ from an earlier era and worthy of respect…Mr. Levine hastened to reassure fans that “he’s still Mr. Peanut, with the top hat and monocle and cane….We’re taking him back to his roots.” In addition to getting a voice, Mr. Peanut has a new sidekick. Mr. Peanut’s buddy is named Benson, shorter than Mr. Peanut ­ one nut in his shell rather than two. “Benson is quite enamored of Mr. Peanut,” Mr. Levine said, but they are, as the saying goes, just friends. Benson does not live in Mr. Peanut’s house, Mr. Wixom said.
  • [from steve_portigal] White poppies banned from P.E.I. market [CBC News] – [Disruption – whether innovative or not – starts with ideas. The poppy itself is not harmful or otherwise objectionable, but the idea it – arbitrarily, mind you – represents is transgressive enough that the establishment reacts as only the establishment can – by banning the representation of that idea. I assume, for further irony, that these are plastic poppies, not "real" poppies. The power of symbols!] The Charlottetown Farmers Market turned away people selling white poppies on Sunday for Remembrance Day. Volunteers with the Island Peace Committee had arranged to hand out the controversial poppies at the farmers market for the second consecutive week. Committee members say the alternative poppies stand for peace and are also to remember civilians who die in war. The white poppies have drawn an angry response from the Royal Canadian Legion, saying they detract from the original red poppy…For now, people will have to contact the Island Peace Committee directly to get a white poppy.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Lending Coming Soon for Kindle [Kindle Forum] – [This announcement from Amazon produced a lot of skepticism on the important caveat – that lending will be dependent on the publishers. Nice move that allows Amazon to raise their eyebrows innocently, "Oh, sure, we're allowing people to share eBooks. It's those greedy publishers that won't let you do it. But don't look at us!"] Later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.
  • [from steve_portigal] Proposing a Taxonomy of Social Reading [Institute for the Future of the Book] – [Bob Stein opens the conversation on how we can further the dialog about what it means to be social in reading. The wiki-like format he's used allows for discussion but is pretty difficult to navigate. I've linked here to the overview page that summarizes the current entries in the taxonomy] In recent months the phrase “social reading” has been showing up in conversation and seems well on its way to being a both a useful and increasingly used meme. While I find this very exciting, as with any newly minted phrase, it’s often used to express quite different things…In order to advance our understanding of how reading (and writing) are changing as they begin to shift decisively into the digital era, it occurred to me that we need a taxonomy to make sense of a range of behaviors all of which fit within the current “social reading” rubric.
  • [from steve_portigal] Cross-examining your interview skills [Slideshare] – [Discovered through Google Alerts since it quotes me, but shared here because it's a great reference for a lot of fundamental interpersonal (and other) aspects of interviewing]
  • [from steve_portigal] Some crayons belong in kids’ mouths [Seattle Times Newspaper] – [Old news perhaps, but new news to me. A surprising brand name for a beverage!] In 2003, Seay bought the Crayons trademark for use with food and beverages from someone who had been tinkering with using it with juices on the East Coast. The crayons trademark is not the same as Crayola, a company that sells a popular brand of the colorful writing instruments known as crayons. Coincidentally, another local company — Advanced H2O on Mercer Island — uses the Crayola brand name for a bottled-water line called Crayola Color Coolerz.
  • [from steve_portigal] HP’s Slate specs slated by bloggers [Boing Boing] – [As Homer Simpson said, it's funny cuz it's true] it's just a pretty keyboardless netbook. Its most interesting characteristic is a bizarre slide-out tray that exists only to display the Windows 7 licensing information. It's like something from some kind of screwball comedy about awful product design: HP was apparently obliged to do this because it didn't want to mess up the exterior with this compulsory information panel.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] ThatsMyFace.com – [Technology continues to trickle down, where image processing and digital printing previously associated with movie special effects and commercial printing now enable little businesses to crop up, offering fairly unique types of products] Gifts with personalized faces, including custom action figures, celebrity action figures, 3D portraits, masks, jewelry, papercraft, and ornamental heads.
  • [from steve_portigal] How to Have an Idea [Frank Chimero] – [A little comic that amuses as it inspires and teaches, suggesting that creativity is tied to doing, not just thinking or (gulp) talking. Manifests so adroitly while we believe user research really comes alive when you use it to start generating concepts for things to make and do] No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Medium – E-Readers Collective [NYTimes.com] – [A Kindle feature takes advantage of the inherently digital nature of the medium, but has consequences for the experience] But many writers don’t write aphoristically, and many readers don’t read for aphorisms. In a popularly highlighted world, we all may begin to. The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style. (Amazon's most heavily highlighted books include Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”) Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author or publisher. What’s worse is that they invariably choose the most Polonius-like passages.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] It’s a Book – By Lane Smith [NYTimes.com] – In a memorable two-page spread the jackass reads the thing. A clock runs above him, counting out the hours, and his ears and eyes, with wonderful caricatural economy, express first puzzlement, then absorption and at last the special quality of readerly happiness: a mind lost in a story. Those of us for whom books are a faith in themselves — who find the notion that pixels, however ordered, could be any kind of substitute for the experience of reading in a chair with the strange thing spread open on our lap — will love this book. Though it will surely draw a laugh from kids, it will give even more pleasure to parents who have been trying to make loudly the point that Smith’s book makes softly: that the virtues of a book are independent of any bells, whistles or animation it might be made to contain. That two-page spread of the jackass simply reading is the key moment in the story, and one of the nicest sequences in recent picture books. (via @Anthropunk)

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