SONYC Presentation: Enhanced eBooks & BookApps: the Promise and Perils

Waaaaay back on September 20, I flew down to New York City to take part in one of the Science Online New York City panel discussions, this one on Enhanced eBooks & BookApps: the Promise and Perils (and here).

Ably organized and moderated by David Dobbs, the other panelists were Evan Ratliff, Amanda Moon, Carl Zimmer and Dean Johnson.

Here's a description of the panel:

Enhanced ebooks and tablet apps clearly offer new ways to present material and engage readers. Yet some of the software restrictions and rights deals that these ebooks, apps and their platforms use can make them unfriendly to librarians, archivists, and future users. How can authors, designers, and publishers best exploit these new opportunities while avoiding their current and potential downsides?

Some questions that the panel will discuss include: How do we develop AppBooks or enhanced eBooks that make the most of the technology without locking the contents in proprietary formats that may be hard to crack open in 5 or 50 years? How can we reconcile the desires and agendas of authors, app developers, publishers, librarians, archivists, and readers?

September's panel includes representatives from all these groups and promises a lively discussion around one of the hotter topics from the ScienceOnline e-book session last January.

I wrote a post about my views a while back as part of my preparations: On the evilness of the emerging ebook app ecosystem.

So, how did the panel discussion go? Pretty well, I think. Sure, there was a fair bit of gosh-wow about the admittedly thrilling potential of book apps to really bring something new and innovative to the whatever-books-become landscape. But I think I was able to get in a few good points about the kinds of things we'll have to watch for in order to ensure the app ecosystem lives up to it's full potential as part of an open cultural commons. The audience seemed to be at least of bit on my side during the Q&A, not to mention at the Rockefeller University campus pub afterwards.

For those that weren't able to make it, there's a surprisingly complete and comprehensive (and comprehensible!) Storify of the event here. Storify is a very cool tool that allows you to assemble online objects, in this case some of the many hundreds of tweets about the event, into, well, a story.

There's also a video stream of all the talks that you can watch. I start about 37 minutes in and go for about 11 minutes. I just listened to myself and thought my part went pretty well.

The Lessig-y slides I used to frame my talk are here.

And last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank David for organizing the event as well as Carol Feltes of the Markus Library at Rockefeller University for her hospitality.

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