There are several concepts and implications that I would like to explore during the course of our project. I hope that some of these can stay relevant and can inform the concepts brought up by the rest of the group.
What are the implications for eReaders for education? By education I do not mean exclusive concepts of curriculum and instruction (though those elements should definitely be included) but the broader opportunity for a common conversation and debate. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently ran a five-day series called Canada Reads where five Canadian celebrities/elites campaigned for particular novels that best represented Canada. In an age when niche markets and Andersonian long tails seem to be the rage, how is it that there is a movement (however diffused) to create a canon of Canadian literature that “all” Canadians ought to read and know about?
What are the implications of self-generated document, book and text designs on aesthetic principles? This idea comes from Mei’s mention of CSS. Printing was a craft, a skill, a trade. Not everyone had the eye (or the hands) to become a printer. The same used to be true for website design – a person had to learn a complex language that put content in front of the audience in a meaningful way. This concept would address the questions of where “designer” ends and where “programmer” begins and, in parallel with beat reporters now often taking their own photos, would explore which side of the continuum most web designers would place themselves. The lack of a physical object means that the design possibilities are restricted in some very important ways – the size and shape of the volume, how the cover is designed (it is impossible to recreate a wraparound cover on a Kindle, for example), what fonts to use and these other kinds of concerns.
Related to this, addressing the history of book design would give us examples of how printing houses managed different periods of technological transition. We could pick a few publishing conglomerates and do case studies.
What do we really mean when we say link? The concept of a link has existed within the language of natural science and linguistics for centuries. What happens when we create links from one artifact to another? How can we account for what is missed, omitted, ignored and, in many cases, forgotten? How can this iBooks Author project contribute to the understanding of the potential and dangers of links and connections?
In an effort to combine the philosophical with the practical without being too speculative, it might be worthwhile to investigate how publishers see their own role changing and adapting to economic and technologic changes (and economic changes brought on by technology). The work of Andre Schiffrin
might help here.
Taking cues from Chicago Sociology of the interwar era, what does reading the newspaper mean? Does the organizational structure of the Internet prevent people from equating nytimes.com with The New York Times? What does – and what might – reading the news mean for, as a start, the undergraduate-aged person?
What does the decline of printed material mean for the future of archival research? A positive turn might be a greater appreciation and use of oral history and interviews. Oral histories often provide for a richer narrative account of an event, object or situation. In many respects they are just as valid as permanent records that can be revised and annotated and edited before submission to whatever official or permanent repository. Still, the opportunity to maintain physical records that endure beyond personal memory and that can be transported easier than a human conversation is a valuable one.
At the end, a large theme worth exploring or incorporating might be “the determents of digitization.”