Posts Tagged ‘e-literature’

Atwood,Rushdie, IPad Stuff, Australia and some other bits

March 23, 2010

Margaret Atwood was the recipient of $1 million from The Dan David Prize. Beyond the ten percent she is required to share through Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Scholarships, she is sharing the prize money with another writer, Amitav Ghosh.

Salman Rushdie has archives on display at Emory University. The Rushdie-specific content is interesting (you can pull up a draft of one of his novels and edit/re-write bits of it, a weird bibliophile’s Eden somewhat analogous to an Air Force fanatic climbing into a military flight simulator) but the issue of preservation. John Updike donating fifty 5 1/4 inch disks shortly before his death is a good example of an author passing on a technology that simply no longer exists (admit it, how many of you have ever seen, let alone used, those big 5 1/4 inch disks?).  At some point, and quite likely in our life times if not within the next twenty years, we will see computing move entirely beyond decides like harddrives with moving parts and possibly even beyond solid state memory (like flashdrives) to lord knows what. are we at risk of losing great swathes of information simply because we’ll no longer be able to access it?

Blogging on demand? Well, maybe. IBM is working on a widget to connect bloggers and readers in a unique way. It’s essentially backwards from how the writer/reader dynamic has been accepted. The writer plugs away at something, throws it out there, and hopes to God someone reads it. Well, IBM is looking to find a way for readers to suggest topics for blogging and for those suggestions to be forwarded to the appropriate blogger to then do with it what he is told to do. On the one hand, as a rarely visited blog writer (unless I criticize illustrators, heh), I can certainly see the appeal. On the other hand, I write about what I write about because it interests me – not necessarily because I want to get a thousand hits a day. My reviews/critiques are dry and not for everyone. And that’s okay.

Make poetry your career and be the best at it. Over night. While it reads as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way of pushing for commercial success and societal significance as a poet, there is also an undeniable scent of truth to the vast majority of it.  I read lit journals, I glance through the annual year end Best Of collections, and am largely unimpressed with the vast vast vast majority of the poetry.  It lacks something. What it lacks is hard to put into words but there is just a gut reaction that is missing when reading it. At risk of sounding melodramatic (or maybe just wistful), it seems as if poetry is too much a way to make ends meet and not a way of life. The idea of Poet as Occupation should be a liberating one. Instead, it seems we may have become Henry Ford’s dream given artistic form. Maybe i’m not taking from it what was meant to be taken from it, but this is what it made me think about. There is a typed version of the same article at Huffington Post.

Finally, Australia is falling behind the EBook revolution. And they’re not happy about it. And they’re trying to figure out how to catch up. And Amazon is selling Kindles there without any real product support. And Apple hasn’t even hired anyone to run their Australian version of the ipad virtual store thing yet. Australia is really just being patently ignored.  And from it all, what really stood out to me, was the attention the IPad is still generating despite it looking like a fairly mediocre blow-up of the IPhone. I haven’t been thrilled with the IPad but if it somehow leads to EBook industry being opened up some more, then it’s done a good thing. Another piece of interesting info was the fact that publishers aren’t just creating digital copies of their novels, but things that are closer to app files than documents. I’m not a huge computer guy, despite the (numerous) IPad postings. But I keep seeing talk of HTML5 coming out in the near future and how it will do away with Flash and whatever else. I think this could also be the avenue for e-literature to eventually head down. Instead of apps, just use a powerful, multip-purpose programming language (as the next HTML appears to be) that allows different e-texts to be opened with a single browser.  Which makes me wish even more that I had any idea whatsoever how to create a webpage strictly through code (and not through those fuzzy point and click editors like Dreamweaver).

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(E)Magazines Galore

December 9, 2009

Awhile back I posted an article linking Conde Nast Publishing and Apple’s development of a tablet PC rumored to hit the market in the fall/winter of 2010. The thought was that Apple was forming some sort of partnership to help pull E-readers to their tablet to help break into a market dominated by specialty readers like Kindle or Nook.

Whether Apple is involved or not, five major publishers have banded together to push for a more open e-literature world.  Demanding a universal standard that allows their magazines to be accurately transferred to a digital medium across a wide range of viewers – rather than the specialized files used by current readers – it is clear that this is but a prong on a multi-faceted attack to allow PCs into the suddenly lucrative E-reader world.

If a standard is established and all magazines, newspapers and novels are published in that one form that is open for all computers/readers/cell phones/etc. to download and read, it’ll open up a world of competition for Kindle, Nook and the Sony Reader. Instead of having to make a severely specialized product to compete in the market, a company like Apple (or Del or HP or…) would be able to do what they do best: make a jack-of-all trade machine that hits a specific price range. We’ve seen the proliferation of the netbook (which I find horribly unusable with their smurf sized keyboards…) so we know big box computer companies can easily shift their gears to make smaller computers.

This is something to keep an eye on in the next year and maybe make you re-consider throwing down that two to three hundred bucks on that brand spanking new e-reader. While their displays are nice and they do what they do very well, the e-lit world could be on the cusp of a minor revolution.

No Nook -E(reader) for you!

November 22, 2009

Apparently Barnes and Noble’s e-reader is pretty popular. So popular that no more will be available for Christmas. To tie this in to my post about Dave Eggers’ comments about this being a golden time for literature because of the sheer number of publishing opportunities, the popularity of e-readers has to be a positive sign for the industry and for the profession of not just publishing but for writing. Devices centered around reading are selling like crazy. 

I’m still curious to see how this will potentially shape literature. The idea that books will be sold online is a nobrainer but I’m curious to see if we’ll ever see a real hybrid where the book has some sort of interactivity with the web, incorporate some programming language, etc. Take a book like Danielewski’s House of Leaves, for example. It works on the page but imagine if all of the formatting work was done so that the text would/could be manipulated by the user, would move, would jump to images/web pages packaged with the text, etc.

Read(h)er well and Kindle some Nook-E (reading)

October 23, 2009

I’m a fan of e-lit.

Now, if you’ve spent any time in a university hallway in the English wing, you would know that this isn’t a very welcomed feeling. Critics and lit majors have a hard on for the physical body of books. It’s the lover they can never keep. While the writing majors/profs mostly see a changing economic landscape that could forever deprive them of any book deal that would be worth cashing at some place other than the corner liquor store.

alright, exaggerations (slight) but still largely true outside of the pop culture studies majors/profs who get off on technology and our evolving culture in general. But the point is that the only people who really get e-lit are the normal, every day people. They are the ones fueling the sale of e-readers and making publishers hold back electronic publication dates to christmas eve (or christmas day).  they’re the ones blowing around $200 and better for these things so they can tote four novels around with them wherever they go.

but lets go back here for a moment. $200. For something to read a novel with. Or a newspaper. or a magazine. All of which you also have to purchase (though at discounted rates from their pulp and binding twins).  and all these things do is allow you to read books and purchase more books. Granted, Nook-E looks appealing, but that’s still a pret price point to read Kafka on the Shore.

And then your ebook collection isn’t even safe. As Amazon has demonstrated, it appears to be very easy for an outsider to simply go in and erase books from your reading device.  While it may be arguable that their reasoning did have some basis, it is still an appalling invasion of an individual’s world. Can anyone imagine Barnes&Noble coming to their house and, for any reason, demanding to take back a book you bought from the? But they wouldn’t even demand it. They would just pry open a window one night, creep in, take it from the shelf and leave a few bucks on your night stand. That’s what Amazon did.

All of this has made me wonder about the popularity of such devices. They are expensive, they are limited in function and they appear to be some of the most un-secure devices you can own. What is the appeal? and why don’t more people simply use tablet PCs? For anyone who doesn’t know, a tablet PC is essentially a big ipod touch but with a ton more functions.  it’s a computer that you can interact with either through a stylus or through a conventional keyboard/mouse (depending on each particular make/model of your tablet PC).

People have argued that the size of such things are prohibitive. They’re too big. They’re too clunky. Etc. But most tablets I see are between 10 and 14 inches long and around four pounds. Slightly bigger than Kindle, nook-E and Reader but that also means the text can be bigger. And they are far, far more functional. I’ve also heard people talk about the screens and how the readers are easier on the eyes. Well, you’re reading this blog, ain’t ya? A normal, well-maintained monitor screen is fine for reading text.

Apparently, Steve Jobs has had similar thoughts. Apple is prepairing their own tablet PC that appears to be aimed at the Kindle crowd. And it looks pretty much like a really big I-Phone or I-Pod Touch. Granted, it’s going to be a good deal more expensive than the other e-readers (around $700-900) but I’m betting it will also be a LOT more functional. Given the massive following that overprice Apple gear has, maybe this will be the push that people need to move away from these e-readers and start doing what music lovers have been demanding for quite awhile now: less specialized gear, better price points and easier access – along with more consumer rights, despite publishers/record labels wanting to strip these rights to the bone.