A New Context for the Electronic Book

  1. 1. Ray Siemens

    University of Victoria

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The power of the book has preoccupied readers since before
the Renaissance, a crucial time during which the human record
entered print and print, in turn, facilitated the radical, crucial
social and societal changes that have shaped our world as we
know it. It is with as much potential and as much complexity, that
the human record now enters the digital world of electronic
media. At this crucial time, however, we must admit to some
awkward truths. The very best of our electronic books are
still pale refl ections of their print models, and the majority
offer much less than a refl ection might. Even the electronic
document – the webpage mainstay populating the World
Wide Web – does not yet afford the same basic functionality,
versatility, and utility as does the printed page. Nevertheless,
more than half of those living in developed countries make use
of the computer and the internet to read newspaper pieces,
magazine and journal articles, electronic copies of books, and
other similar materials on a daily basis; the next generation of
adults already recognises the electronic medium as their chief
source of textual information; our knowledge repositories
increasingly favour digital products over the print resources
that have been their mainstay for centuries; and professionals
who produce and convey textual information have as a chief
priority activities associated with making such information
available, electronically – even if they must do so in ways that
do not yet meet the standards of functionality, interactivity,
and fostering of intellectual culture that have evolved over 500
years of print publication.
Why, then, are our electronic documents and books not living
up to the promise realized in their print counterparts? What is
it about the book that has made it so successful? How can we
understand that success? How can we duplicate that success,
in order to capitalize on economic and other advantages in
the electronic realm?
This introductory paper frames several responses to the
above, centring on issues related to textual studies, reader
studies, interface design, and information management, and
framing the more detailed responses in the areas below.

Conference Info


ADHO - 2008

Hosted at University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

June 25, 2008 - June 29, 2008

135 works by 231 authors indexed

Conference website: http://www.ekl.oulu.fi/dh2008/

Series: ADHO (3)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None