1. Session 1: WHAT IS A BOOK?

    Arianne Baggerman (NL) - The Unbound Reader of the Future
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 10.30 – 12.30

    Which of books’ qualities are so essential that we must ensure their survival into the future? Is it possible to enrich new media – digital texts – with these older functions? This discussion often lacks a distinction between two forms of reading/readers who have no interconnection at all: ‘real’ readers and researchers. To quote Virginia Woolf: ‘The learned man is a solitary enthusiast, who searches through books to discover some particular grain of truth upon which he has set his heart’. Those restless seekers for snippets of information – scientists, librarians or professional writers – dominate the debate and the future policy and vision on the history of reading as well. The canon of historical readers, with its inclination towards negative comments on former communication revolutions, is mainly formed by those ‘learned men’. In this paper I will­ go­ into­ the significance­ of­ books­ for­ historical readers who do not belong to the usual canon. Research into egodocuments of common 19th and 20th century readers reveals the relevant aspects of their books that are irreplaceable by digital texts: the book as a haven of rest and tranquility, as a tool for the development of empathical skills and the book in its full materiality – taste, place, smell, weight, signs of former readers – as a memory palace.

    networkcultures.org/unboundbook

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  2. Q&A Session 1: WHAT IS A BOOK?
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 10.30 – 12.30

    Whether an occasion for private submersion, a totem of cultural credibility, or an aesthetic object, the printed book is always foreclosed between two covers and governed by a unique economy of sale. the electronic networked book changes all this: is a book the material container for reading, a printed page or an e-reader, or is it content, an entity of externalized memory, a metaphor for knowledge? or perhaps something else entirely – an on-going conversation space for cultural exchange? Moving from early print culture to electronic hypertext and today’s ereaders, the panelists will explore what the book means to us today. What forms of online communication operate best as linear texts, versus others (the phonebook) that have ceased to be books and mutated instead into databases, webpages, and blogs? how has the book as an object of social capital evolved? What transmutations of the book have succeeded and what failed to take hold...and why?

    A common response to an online book is that while it may be better or worse than a book, ‘this is not a book’. But new digital media also have a defamiliarizing effect, making us realize that physical books were themselves never truly books – if by ‘book’ we mean a long form of attention designed for the permanent, standard, and author- itative (that is, socially repeatable and valued) communication of human thought or experience. This is also the conclusion of recent scholarship in the history of the book and­ history­ of­ reading­ fields­ as­ they­ have­ evolved into parallel forms of media theory. After looking at the not-book of _Agrippa (a book of the dead)_ – a codex of 1992 that was transitional between physical and online books – this talk outlines methods for discovering and tracking socially repeat- able and valued ‘long forms of attention,’ whether past or present. The talk concludes with a look at the RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment) created by the Transliteracies Project at the University of California.

    networkcultures.org/unboundbook

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  3. Session 1: WHAT IS A BOOK?

    Miha Kovac (SI) - End of Private Reading and Birth of Book Singles: New Media Brings New Messages Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 10.30 – 12.30

    The paper will discuss two different aspects of e-books and p-books. First, p-books and e-books will be compared as two different technologies that are supposed to perform a similar task: to distribute book content and allow access to it. It will be shown that e-book sales started to grow when e-books as technology outperformed p-books in a variety of aspects such as storage and speed of delivery of book content. On the other hand, some aspects of p-books such as stability and reliability of the format still remain important for a variety of readers. Therefore it is reasonable to expect that at least for a while, publishers, booksellers and readers will live in two different economic realities. Second, it will be shown that reading practices in e-book environments differ from the ones in p-book environments as private reading seems to be disappearing. Additionally, the relation between the medium and the message will be discussed. It will be shown that with e-books, book content started to appear in formats that didn’t exist in the analog world.

    networkcultures.org/unboundbook

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  4. Session 1: WHAT IS A BOOK?

    Alan Liu (US) - This is Not a Book: Long Forms of Shared Attention in the Digital Age
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 10.30 – 12.30

    A common response to an online book is that while it may be better or worse than a book, ‘this is not a book’. But new digital media also have a defamiliarizing effect, making us realize that physical books were themselves never truly books – if by ‘book’ we mean a long form of attention designed for the permanent, standard, and author- itative (that is, socially repeatable and valued) communication of human thought or experience. This is also the conclusion of recent scholarship in the history of the book and­history­of­reading­fields­as­they­have­ evolved into parallel forms of media theory. After looking at the not-book of _Agrippa (a book of the dead)_ – a codex of 1992 that was transitional between physical and online books – this talk outlines methods for discovering and tracking socially repeat- able and valued ‘long forms of attention,’ whether past or present. The talk concludes with a look at the RoSE (Research-oriented Social Environment) created by the Transliteracies Project at the University of California.

    networkcultures.org/unboundbook

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What is a Book? Session 1

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