Applying data viz techniques to study how a project evolves over time
Data visualization is one of the hot topics of the last year or two. So what does this offer publishing and book production?
Open data activists in particular have been lobbying governments for access to databases which they use to create infographics and visualisations for campaigns. It’s not a new science of course, it was here long before the net (for some background on contemporary practice see the wonderful books by Edward Tufte) but the net is made of data and a good mechanism for transporting it. The net is a good medium for scraping and re-presenting data in more palatable forms. Read more…
Think contributors and facilitators, not authors and editors
One of the burdens of book creation is the enormous time periods involved. Ask any publisher for a timeline for producing a book and you will be surprised if you get back an answer this side of 12 months. In this day however that timeline is looking increasingly glacial. How can we accelerate book production? How fast could it get?
How does three days sound? Enter Book Sprints.
How long will it be before the book becomes "unstable" again?
As one of the first mass produced industrial artifacts the book remains a solid cultural signifier of stability. That aura is pretty strong and attractive and makes it pretty hard to think about books as being anything other than static and stable. It appears to be part of their DNA.
While we continue to refer to ebooks as ‘books’ stability seems to be carried on as part of the currency. We don’t really even challenge it. EPUBs and mobi (etc.) with their ‘self -contained’ exactly reproducible nature also appear to reinforce the static nature of things.
Books are stable. Websites are not. That seems to be a delimiter that’s ‘in the air’.
The future of the book is inherently linked to the browser
One common misnomer I have come across is that EPUB3 is ‘a technology’ – something in and of itself. I believe this category mistake is largely a result of the the IDPF’s (the organisation that maintains EPUB3) success in promoting EPUB as a ‘standalone’ technology to the publishing world.
WYSI editors enable a whole new level of interaction
Since HTML is the new paper and the new path to paper online editing environments are becoming much more important for publishing. Dominant until now has been the WYSIWYG editor we all know and…err…love? However the current WYSIWYG paradigm has been inadequate for a long time and we need to update and replace it. Producing text with a WYSIWYG editor feels like trying to write a letter while it’s still in the envelope. Let’s face it…these kinds of online text editors are not an extension of yourself, they are a cumbersome hindrance to getting a job done.
Why are we leaving such an important issue to under-resourced volunteers and small organisations?
Typesetting math in HTML was for a long time one of those ‘I can’t believe that hasn’t been solved by now!’ issues. It seemed a bit wrong – wasn’t the Internet more or less invented by math geeks? Did they give up using the web back in 1996 because it didn’t support math? (That would explain the aesthetic of many ‘home pages’ for math professors.)
The explosion in web typesetting has been largely unnoticed by everyone except the typography geeks. One of the first posts that raised my awareness of this phenomenon was From Print to Web: Creating Print-Quality Typography in the Browser by Joshua Gross.
Doing business by relying on the kindness of strangers
‘Open API’ is a well-known term that seldom gets challenged. It passes in conversation as an agreed-upon good. However it should be recognised that there is no such thing as an Open API – it is a euphemism for a specific kind of technical service offered with no contractual agreement to secure those services.