[-empyre-] Books And pixels

Joost Kircz-HvA j.g.kircz at hva.nl
Fri Jun 11 22:33:59 EST 2010

Just back from a conference on E-readers (E-ink) in Brussels, I rush to 

John Haltiwanger wrote:
> This sounds like research that would benefit the humanities
> significantly. Has there been much cross-pollination with your
> research into fields outside of the physics/computer science/cell
> biology that you mention in the end of the abstract?
In principle it should work in fields were we have structured reasoning 
and a well designed line of argumentation. As this work started with 
phyics and Anita de Waard expands it to cell biology. Modularisation is 
a way to handle hypertext and to help people skip those parts of an 
article the a) know already, b) are not interested in or c) are too 
Unfortunatley I'm not aware of other reserach projects along this line.
Please read more than the abstract.

>> In that sense, my interest is the question”What communication demands what
>> technology”and explicitly not gee look Msword 2020 will be able to show the
>> coding just as Wordperfect does.
> I was wondering if you could follow this line of thought a bit,
> perhaps with more details of what fits where, and how to decide?
> Have we already developed the ideal grammars of typography for dealing
> with long-form prose (essays, books) through our experience with
> printing ink on paper? Or does the screen offer space for new grammars
> that we are still to encounter?
Typography is a helper for structuring a text. Not the other way around.
But just consider the differences between typesetting/ word processing.
MS word and Latex (or Tex) mix presentation and structure. This is whole 
issue of SGML (1986!) to split that. After a long period of slumbering 
in the HTML phase, XML as a SGML dialect is picking up.
There a more issues in this context: 1) the content (meaning) must be 
clear and a emphases must be added (bold, exclamation mark, etc). This 
is true for digitally born material 2) Given a historical standardised 
typography you can use that to analyse a text. This is true for 
digitalisation programmes. 3) using tags of all kind enables you to 
change text, search a text etc. Presentation is coming after content 

>> 3)- A nagging question “What is a book”
>> Because we call everything between two covers a book and the whole trade
>> organised along those lines, this doesn’t mean that it is a book in an
>> electronic environment. A telephone directory is not any more a book, an
>> encyclopaedia is not any more a book. But a novel or a text book is. I’m
>> working on a discussion paper on this subject. I tend to define books as
>> that creative product that, in principle, has a story line that must be
>> followed from a starting point to a conclusion (though as in hypertext and
>> games, we might have more outcomes).
> Is there a time/space component to this? For example, serialization:
> Is it a book if it hasn't finished yet? What about a (hypothetical,
> afaik) collaborative text in which the story is intentionally
> changing, piece by piece? In other words, does book imply a certain
> stasis, perhaps a physical embodiment? The "two covers" could be the
> top and bottom plastic of a game DVD, a first and last blog post, or
> the beginning and end of a PDF file's structure. Both these imply
> finished products, or at least a static existence. Could "unchanging"
> be a formal attribute of what we expect in a book? (This is with the
> understanding that books change, but with the attitude that a new
> edition is a new incarnation--the elements of the old edition do not
> change automatically to match the new one (yet, at least; I would
> argue that this feature is not necessarily a good thing)).
Good points,
I would say a book is a finished product and a new version is a new book.


Dr.  Joost Kircz
Lector Elektronisch Uitgeven,
MCI- HvA. Rhijnspoorplein 1, 1091 GC Amsterdam K. 03A04 , 
T. +31-20-595 1799, F. +31-20-595 1720.
M. +31 6 2470 9924
Zie ook: www.kra.nl 

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