1. Session 2: THE UNBOUND BOOK

    Introduction by Geert Lovink (editorial board)
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 13.30 – 15.30

    Tumors of the death of the book are a specter of today’s wired society. but with the rise of e-readers and text mark- up, electronic books persist even while transcending the limits of traditional forms. online the book becomes another piece of data in a vast, interactive space of links, social networks, videos and sound. it also becomes an occasion for social annotations and collaborative communities of readers and authors. if connected to other information, is the book still a book? do we herald the death of the individual author with the rise of collaborative writing? What role will editorial and technical standards play? While the printed book seems finite, is there room today for works that never achieve closure, that remain in an unfolding state?


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  2. Session 2: THE UNBOUND BOOK

    Florian Cramer (GE/NL) - Unbound Books: Bound Ex Negativo
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 13.30 – 14.30

    Looking at the history and the structure of the book, we can see how the binding is the only element that literally holds it together. This has rendered experiments from experimental artists’ books to the early electronic ‘expanded books’ as exceptions proving the rule. Robert Coover’s 1990s scenario of an ‘end of books’ through digital hypermedia did not come true. On the contrary,­the­field­of­media-experimental­ electronic literature and e-poetry has become more marginal than it was twenty years ago. The Kindle and epub have, all the while, established a notion of e-books that is even more rigid and conventional than paper books, leaving much less room for artistic design experimentation. There are sound reasons to believe that, with the internet as an unstable publishing medium, the function of the book is, more than ever, that of a stable medium.


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  3. Session 2: THE UNBOUND BOOK

    Gary Hall (UK) - Liquid, Living Books
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 13.30 – 14.30

    Thanks to open access and the likes of AAAAARG.org and Issuu, it’s possible to publish a book today in a matter of minutes. What’s interesting about electronic publishing, however, is not so much the way bringing about a book is becoming more­ like­ blogging­–­with­ certification­ provided by the times a text is downloaded, linked to, tagged or ‘liked’ as much as by traditional means of quality control – but that certain developments in electronic publishing contain the potential to conceive of­books­as­not­being­fixed­and­unified,­with­ clear material edges, but as liquid and living: open to being continually revised, refreshed and reimagined. Yet as examples such as the Bible and Shakespeare’s First Folio show, books have always been liquid and living – and, throughout modernity, have always been subject to forces striving to repress this fact. Electronic publishing has simply helped to make us aware of it.


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  4. Session 2: THE UNBOUND BOOK

    Bernhard Rieder (NL/FR) - 81,498 Words: The Book As Data Object
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 13.30 – 14.30

    Even without having to change form or support, the contemporary (printed) book is increasingly meshed in digital structures. Written and typeset on a computer, rated and sold online, catalogued, scanned, and distributed­ through­ file sharing­ sites­–­ every book now seems to exist as part of a database, in one way or another. Companies like Amazon and Google lead the way in treating books as full-text data objects that can be put into relation with other titles, but also with external data pools and representations of user behavior. Search tools and personalized navigation based on different algorithmic techniques create a variable geometry between users, books, and concepts: complex ecosystems that become practical resources in a wide array of everyday practices. How can we begin to understand this emerging situation?­ What­ are­ the­ larger­ ramifications of­ a­ book culture edging closer to an apparently insatiable data culture?


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  5. Session 2: THE UNBOUND BOOK

    Bob Stein (US) - Social Reading is No Longer an Oxymoron
    Conference Day 1, May 20, Den Haag, 13.30 – 14.30

    Marx and McLuhan were right. Technology has­a­significant­and­determining­effect­on­ how humans organize their societies and how they express ideas and communicate with each other. Certain developments – the­discovery­of­fire,­the­invention­of­print­ or the shift from analog to digital – are so profound that they usher in wholesale changes in the fabric of human conscious- ness and existence. Reading and writing are thought to be among the most solitary of behaviors; however as we shift from page to networked screen the fundamentally social nature of these activities is being revealed with startling clarity and giving rise to an entirely new ecosystem of publishing that will comprise new kinds of works and new modes of creation, distribution and consumption. If print ushered in the ‘age of enlightenment’ with its focus on the individ- ual, digital networks provide the basis for us to discard the shackles of individualism, one of the key pillars of capitalism, and move toward a society based on collaboration. Sadly, this is not an inevitable outcome; there are also perfectly plausible dystopian models which must be considered.


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The Unbound Book session 2

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