Publishing is changing and the folks in media are screaming bloody murder (not that I blame them for doing so). Spurred on by the success of Amazon’s Kindle and the iPad, things are moving a lot faster than they ever dreamed I suppose. Just last month it was reported that Kindle Books sales over took the sales of hardcover books. It sounds amazing at first glance until you think about how bulky and brick-like hard cover books are compared to the sleekness of the Kindle or the iPad, both in form and bookshelf space (or lack there of…). Other than the changing form in which we consume printed media, something else is afoot. There is a challenge to the foundation of traditional publishing itself. I think we’ve all seen it, but for the most part denied it. As self publishing becomes easier, the lack of authority rises. I’ve talked about this before, but I think now I see two stark mirroring realities that can be best summed up as, “Anyone can publish almost anything they want.” At first I thought “wow” and then this quickly turned into “oh no…”
I guess I’ll focus my thoughts on a subject I’m familiar with: manga. Leaving aside the current legal controversies of scanlation, I’d rather think about the issues of “authority.” The truth of the matter is anybody can do scanlation with the right software (or in some cases without). When I speak of authority in scanlation, I mainly think about the project choices a group makes and whether the translation offered is any good. Continue reading Some Thoughts on the Change in Publishing
I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of news stories about the digital revolution that is happening in the classroom. Coupled with the histrionics about state of the US education system and the seemingly constant cutbacks, it’s got me thinking about how the digital revolution can help.
Let’s face it, textbooks are a scam. Most cost over $70 each, with some college textbooks approaching $200 each! K-12 schools struggle with wear-and-tear of paper textbooks and publishers put out new editions yearly, thereby putting a damper on used book sales. It only seems natural to go to electrons to cut the cost of firing up a printing press for a limited run of specialized books and to save schools the burden of having to replace worn out or outdated textbooks (not to mention the trees). When coupled with input features like highlighting and notes, digital books are just as powerful, if not more, than paper books (especially considering in K-12 public schools, student cannot write in the textbooks). The news reports that electronic textbooks run about half the price of paper textbooks. There are also experiments around teacher tailored content and textbook mash-ups to add diversity to the content. This is all very exciting and I can’t wait to see how the copyright laws will change to accommodate these innovations.
The most exciting thing to me about the classroom digital revolution is all the technology that will spawn from it. I can see E-readers converging with laptops as E-readers gain functionality and laptops limit functionality to meet pricing goals. There will be new ways of collaboration within a class, between classes, and potentially on a worldwide scale. I can see blackboards replaced with large touchscreens that broadcast the content (both visual and audio) to the student’s devices. The blackboard can seamlessly display handwritten content as well as display content from the Internet, and feeds from places outside the classroom. There can be fun stuff like class polling, instant pop quizzes, and in general, easier ways for more student to get more involved in the class. Of course, this also facilitates cheating — but I think this just requires a new way of looking at learning and understanding how people will collaborate in the future given all the new technology. Maybe in the future, it’ll will be commonsense to ask those available for assistance and to be able to search to the find the answers needed on a test — that is the way work gets done now, isn’t it? Anyhow, this all means that screen technology will have to leap to bigger manufacturing formats (or better stitching of smaller units into big ones) and there needs to be a significant jump in durability to withstand the beating a chalkboard takes and the abuse children inflict upon paper textbooks. There will also be breakthroughs in collaboration. Something constant has to stitch all the communication together and it doesn’t necessarily have to be one piece of SW, but rather there needs to be a set of protocols so all software can work together regardless of device (I imagine most of that’s in place now, and it’s just a matter of following the rules). That’s a tall order, but I’m a believer! The digital revolution is a big task! Lots of hardware will be needed, lots of people will be needed to design the hardware and the software, and lots of people will be needed to install the infrastructure. The contracts will be huge! And in the end the digital divide will be no more and there will be efficiencies gained with the demise of the paper textbook (plus battery and power optimization technologies for convenience and greenness). I think it will be a leveler and hopefully lead to more prosperity for everyone. Or so that is what this wide-eyed idealist believes …
Here’s an interesting article from CNN on the end of the “Kodakchrome” era. I was under the impression that Kodak had stopped making film some years ago, so it makes me wonder, since they are being secretive about when they run the film, whether Kodak has stopped production and the film that photographers are still buying is the last of a big stock pile from the final run. This article says nothing about people who develop film in their own labs. Anyhow, time passes and technology changes. It’s interesting to hear people talk romantically about film photography. The thing that piqued my interest, though, was the color stability aspect of the film for archiving and for documenting disease and research. Recreating that ability sounds like an opportunity for high-end digital imaging — both image capture and image processing. I imagine things get goofy recreating color and displaying the proper contrast from output device to output device — this includes both electronic displays and printing. And then there’s recreating the lighting … sigh …
Here’s a video about a Borders Books Concept Store at Plaza Bonita, a mall in the San Diego area. It looks like they are experimenting with digital content delivery.