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May 18 2011

Four short links: 18 May 2011

  1. The Future of the Library (Seth Godin) -- We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime. Passionate railing against a straw man. The library profession is diverse, but huge numbers of them are grappling with the new identity of the library in a digital age. This kind of facile outside-in "get with the Internet times" message is almost laughably displaying ignorance of actual librarians, as much as "the book is dead!" displays ignorance of books and literacy. Libraries are already much more than book caves, and already see themselves as navigators to a world of knowledge for people who need that navigation help. They disproportionately serve the under-privileged, they are public spaces, they are brave and constant battlers at the front line of freedom to access information. This kind of patronising "wake up and smell the digital roses!" wank is exactly what gives technologists a bad name in other professions. Go back to your tribes of purple cows, Seth, and leave librarians to get on with helping people find, access, and use information.
  2. An Old Word for a New World (PDF) -- paper on how "innovation", which used to be pejorative, came now to be laudable. (via Evgeny Mozorov)
  3. AlchemyAPI -- free (as in beer) entity extraction API. (via Andy Baio)
  4. Referrals by LinkedIn -- the thing with social software is that outsiders can have strong visibility into the success of your software, in a way that antisocial software can't.

December 10 2010

Bookish Techy Week in Review

In old-school publishing, days were consumed by three martini lunches. In new-school publishing, days are consumed by launches, and this week was a doozy. (No mention of martinis, but read on):

Yes, Virginia there really is a Google eBookstore

Google's just-launched eBookstore is not yet available outside the US. According to TechChrunch:

They're launching with the support of around either 4,000 or 35,000 publisher partners, depending on how you count. 4,000 is the figure for the US launch, but internationally, they're working with the remainder of that figure for a predicted 1Q 2010 launch. All the major publishers are signed on and will be providing a total of around 300,000 in-copyright works, mostly likely including anything you could buy new at any other bookstore.

They also are proud to be working with university, academic, textbook, and professional publishers whose works are harder to come by. They've worked out deals with the American Booksellers Association, Powell's, and Alibris as well. By way of a shortcut, I asked if there were any major associations or publishers that Google had not included in at least a basic partnership, and they said no. And of course there is the immense library of public domain works, over two and a half million at the moment, which swells the total Google eBooks count to around three million.

Not to be out-launched, Amazon launched Kindle for the Web

Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb is skeptical:

You too can now pay $9.99 to read text on a Web page, in Amazon's proprietary format, with the graphically limited format of a printed text-only book of yore. Sure, your bookmarks and notes will carry over from the Web pages you're reading on to other devices --- but could that possibly be enough to warrant paying for Web-embedded eBooks? I don't think so. Once it hits the Web, premium content is only sellable because of scarcity or a superior user experience. I don't see either of those being true in this case.

Amazon and Seth Godin launched The Domino Project

From Seth Godin's Blog:

Working with a great team at Amazon, I'm launching a new publishing venture called The Domino Project. I think it fundamentally changes many of the rules of publishing trade non-fiction.

The fairly less mogul-like Figment launched as well

From Figment's home page:

Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you're into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here.

Kobo launched Reading Life

From the National Post:

Kobo's Reading Life is a new e-reading iPad application that integrates with the company's digital bookstore designed to bring social-networking capabilities to the world of electronic books, in a sort of Book Club 2.0.

James Bridle launched BMXL and the Open Wiki at Open Bookmarks

From the Open Bookmarks blog:

The latest addition is a proposed XML interchange format for bookmarks -- a very simple, small and powerful thing. At the moment, we're still nailing down what we mean by bookmarks and the thorny problems of positioning and identifying books (OpenLibrary?).

The use case is obvious, and because it's our first challenge, simple. It's also personal, because we believe that the first benefits of Open Bookmarks must be to the individual: social benefits are built on selfish behaviours (there's more on this over at Booktwo).

The Internet Archive launched a new browser-based bookreader

The updated reader has an improved UI and support for read aloud (TTS). Here's an example.

And, Apple launched a rumor of a launch

From Wired's Gadget Lab:

Apple has put in the request for its Asian partner Foxconn to produce and ship the second-generation iPad within 100 days, with plans for a spring 2011 release, according to a Taiwanese publication.

Foxconn was notified of plans to ship the iPad by February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000 to 600,000 units, according to DigiTimes. Sources expect the product to launch April 2011.

Got news?

Feel free to send along any news items, blog posts, or things of note from the publishing world.

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