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Levy on books, digital books, etc: at the UofM hatcher library on Monday - Zer Netmouse
February 1st, 2008
02:15 pm

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Levy on books, digital books, etc: at the UofM hatcher library on Monday
The Future of the Book: A Conversation with Newsweek's Steven Levy
February 4, 5:30-7 p.m. (free event)

Steven Levy, Senior News Editor at Newsweek and author of the biweekly
column, The Technologist, and Paul Courant, Dean of the University of
Michigan Library and former U-M Provost, will take part in a free
public conversation about the future of the book. The conversation
will take place in the Gallery of U-M's Hatcher Library.

One of the most acclaimed and versatile technology writers in the
country, Levy has written six books, including "The Perfect Thing,"
about Apple's iPod and "Hackers". He was the guest editor of "The Best
of Technology Writing 2007," published by digitalculturebooks, a joint
imprint of the University of Michigan Library and U-M Press. His
recent Newsweek cover story, Books Aren't Dead, sparked a national
controversy about how new digital reading devices will change our
experience of the written word.

"The Best of Technology Writing 2007", will be available for sale at
the presentation and Levy will be available to sign them.

PLACE: Hatcher Library, located on U-M's Central Campus. The Gallery,
located Hatcher Library is in Room 100 on the first floor through the
Diag entrance.

LINKS: "The Best of Technology Writing" is available for free online
at http:// www.digitalculture.org/ and for sale from booksellers.
U-M's University Library: http://www.lib.umich.edu/
U-M Press: http://www.press.umich.edu/

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[User Picture]
From:bryanalexander
Date:February 5th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Looks like fun. Wish I could have gone.
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From:netmouse
Date:February 6th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
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Paul Courant turned out to be a most excellent speaker. Levy mostly mentioned points he had already made in his Newsweek article, though he occasionally said something new.

Interesting things I took note of were the Institute for the Future of the Book, lead by Robert Stein, the Open Content Alliance, which is administered by the Internet Archive, another project of digital archivist Brewster Kahle, the article "Scan This Book", and the book How to talk about books that you haven't read (orig. Comment Parler des Livres que l’on n’a pas Lus).

They talked a bit about interoperability and standards being the age-old problem, and opened interesting ideas about making etexts the center of social networks, allowing people to engage with the author or other readers through the book itself. They brought up the idea of scholarly commentary and active sourcing, but there the question was basically how to prevent link rot. In terms of releasing the actual text of a book into the world, I liked the idea of doing Book "mash-ups". Also they mentioned the Kindle can also handle audio, and introduced the idea of books having soundtracks you could actually listen to while reading.

There was a little bit of talk about the editorial model and the constraints of physical publications and how constraint leads to wise choice (selection) of what goes before readers. In the arena where there is unlimited space, Levy asserts that the reputational economy is the only motivation for quality. That said, he went on to assert that he and all the other authors he knows desperately want (good) editors, so he expects them to play a role for the foreseeable future.

This event was all part of promoting the University of Michigan press's new imprint, Digital Culture Books, especially the new collection The Best of Technology Writing 2007, which is offered for free online as well as to buy in print or as an ebook.

Edited at 2008-02-06 03:18 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:beamjockey
Date:February 6th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC)
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Brewster Kahle is one of my heroes...
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From:netmouse
Date:February 6th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
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The audio recording of the talk is now available.
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From:shekkara
Date:February 6th, 2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
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Oh, missed this. Bummer. Courant was one of my professors in grad school. Excellent teacher.
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From:netmouse
Date:February 6th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
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The audio recording of the talk is now available.

I wish I could have had Courant as a prof. He was great.
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