Posts Tagged ‘ePub’
A post at HLit got me thinking about locative hypertexts, which are meant to be read in a particular place.
Monday, Liza Daly shared an epub demo which pulls in the reader’s location, and makes decisions about the character’s actions based on movement. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure novel crossed with a geo-aware travel guide. It’s a brief proof-of-concept, and the most exciting part is that the code is free for the taking under the very permissive (GPL + commercial-compatible) MIT License. Thanks, Liza and Threepress for lowering barriers to experimentation with ebooks!
‘Locative hypertexts’ also bring to mind GPS-based guidebooks as envisioned in the 2007 Editus video ‘Possible ou probable…?’1:
Tim McCormick summarizes:
In the 9-minute video, we get mouth-watering, partly tongue-in-cheek scenes of continental Europe’s quality-of-life — fantastic trains & pedestrian streetscapes,independent bookstores, delicious food, world-class museums, weekend getaway to Bruges, etc.– as the movie follows a couple through a riotous few days of E-book high living.
On their fabulously svelte, Kindle 2-like devices, they
- read and purchase novels
- enjoy reading on the beach
- get multimedia museum guides
- navigate foreign cities with ease
- stay in multimedia contact with friends and family
- collaborate with colleagues on shared virtual desktops while at sidewalk cafes
- see many hi-resolution Breughel paintings online and off that I’m dying to see myself
Multimedia guidebooks2 are approaching this vision. Combine them with (also-existing) turn-by-turn directions, and connectivity and privacy will be the largest remaining obstacles.
So then what about location-based storytelling? I got to thinking about the iPhone apps I’ve already encountered, which are intended for use in particular places:
- Walking Cinema: Murder on Beacon Hill – a murder mystery/travel series based in Boston (available as an iPhone app and podcast).
- Museum of the Phantom City: Other Futures – a multimedia map/alternate history of NYC architecture, described as a way to “see the city that could have been”. It maps never-built structures envisioned by Buckminster Fuller, Gaudi, and others – ideally while you’re “standing on the projects’ intended sites”.
- Museum of London: Streetmuseum, true history of London in photos, meant for use on the streets
- Historic Earth, has historical maps which could be interesting settings for historical locative storytelling
I was happy to browse the proceedings while lounging. The papers I mark show up in my personal schedule and in a reading list.
I think it’s an attractive alternative to making a paper list by hand, using some conferences’ clunky online scheduling tool, or circling events in large conference handouts. If you keep an iPhone/iPod in your pocket, the app could be used during the conference, but I might also want to print out my sessions on an index card. So exporting the list would be a good enhancement: in addition to printing, I’d like to send the list of readings directly to Zotero (or another bibliographic manager).
Wayfinding is hard in on-screen PDFs, so I hope that in the long run scholarly proceedings become more screen-friendly. While at present I find an iPhone appealing for reading fiction, on-screen scholarly reading is harder: for one thing, it’s not linear.
I’d like to see integrated, reader-friendly environments for conference proceedings, with full-text papers. I envision moving seamlessly between the proceedings and an offline reading environment. Publishers can already support offline reading on a wide variety of smartphones: the HTML5-based Ibis Reader uses ePub, a standard based on xHTML and CSS. There’s no getting around the download step, but an integrated environment can be “download first, choose later”. I’ve never had much luck with CD-ROM and USB-based conference proceedings, except in pulling off 2-3 PDFs of papers to read later.