An Exploration of Key Topics Shaping the Future.

The ‘Blook’: Another Evolution of a book?

What would Darwin think?
  • What is a book?
    • A Form Factor.
    • A Novel.
    • A True Story.
    • An Anthology.
    • A Textbook.
    • A Reference Book.
  • Evolutions of The Book.
    • eBooks.
    • The Blog
    • Wikis.
  • Introducing The Blook:
    • A Proposed Evolution of the Reference Book.

What is a book?

A form factor.

The book in the modern form, “the codex”, replaced the scroll, and mass production was made possible by the invention of the ‘Guttenberg press”. From wikipedia:

The intellectual content in a physical book need not be a composition, nor even be called a book. Books can consist only of drawings, engravings or photographs, crossword puzzles or cut-out dolls. In a physical book, the pages can be left blank or can feature an abstract set of lines to support entries, such as in an account book, an appointment book, an autograph book, a notebook, a diary or a sketchbook. Some physical books are made with pages thick and sturdy enough to support other physical objects, like a scrapbook or photograph album. Books may be distributed in electronic form as ebooks and other formats.

Wikipedia.

In the end, when we say “book”, we have in mind a physical object, which makes the “book” a form factor. Most of us do not necessarily only think of the form factor, but what can be done with the form factor.

The following sections look at common uses of the form factor.

A Novel.

When a person says “I read a book”, my first assumption is they read a novel. For the ability to embody the work of “a novel” I do not think anything has yet surpassed the form factor of the book.

Motion pictures are not a direct replacement, as they become one persons interpretation of the novel, and a summarised interpretation. The pure uninterrupted reading time of a novel is normally longer than a motion picture running time, and when reading anything beyond a few pages, the time required stretches beyond direct reading, in order time to allow time for thought and interpretation. It is not just the condensed experience time, almost all the imagination done while reading a book, has been done by those making the movie. The result is a different art form.

eBooks did show promise, but I believe interest has waned, particularly in eBook readers, and eBook services. One problem is that no one seems to have managed to match the mix of the freedom of a physical book together with a mechanism where the author receives their revenue.

Then there are audiobooks, but while these do allow consuming content while driving or doing other tasks, I again suggest they are not about to replace the printed book.

The non-fiction True Story.

It is not only fiction that takes the form of a novel, and autobiographies and real life adventures can have a similar format. In this case it could be that a motion picture, or perhaps mini-series to provide a longer experience, could be less of a compromise, as there is only one true story, but I still think the “book” is still the best medium once again.

An Anthology: A collection of works.

An anthology could be a collection of news stories, recipes, photographs, facts,

While a book can sit on a coffee table, and deliver tactile experiences unmatched by online resources, for many types of anthologies, online versions have taken over, as online collections of works provide advantages over books. The ability for one resource to be continually up to date has very much resulted in the end of the book encyclopedia, and, for example, blogs of recipes have become a viable alternative to recipe books.

The characteristic of anthologies, is any element of the collection can be updated at any

Anthologies are an area where the format is evolving beyond the book.

A Textbook.

Textbooks are also seeing a significant move to an online format. Physical books are heavy, hard to search and there are workable solutions to providing school systems with electronic books. Unlike anthologies, the publication of textbooks tends to follow the traditional publishing model, where the entire book is updated at the same time. Having a book updated during a course would be problematic, so the model of “live updates” becomes a problem rather than a feature. Students normally only need one specific edition of the book, and even when there is a new edition, they will not need it.

A Reference Book.

A reference book is similar to a textbook, but can be read for pleasure rather than as a requirement. This brings some of these books into a space somewhere between a novel, and a textbook. If a topic is of interest, then having the book continually updated to the latest edition is highly desirable. However, unlike an anthology, normally book most overall be consistent, and updates to one section can impact other sections, making live updates a challenge. If the topic is an area where progress is fast, including the latest data can be extremely important.

It is less clear what the evolution will be.

Evolutions of The Book.

The eBook.

An eBook takes the traditional book publishing process, and provides for electronic distribution. They are lighter and searchable, but normally do not benefit from live updates. eBooks clearly are a desirable evolution in some niches, but seem to be far from “the fittest” in many other niches.

The Blog.

Blogs work well for anthologies. Every new entry provides an additional entry to the collection. and can potentially replace a now out of date older entry. A novel could be serialised as a blog, but for most novels, the entire plot needs to have been written before any of the novel can be released. For many novels, text and reference books, the editing process is needed to ensure cohesion, making continuous release problematic.

For most blogs, no real structure is required. The only possible structure normally available is that every entry is to be ready in chronological order. Both reference books and novels are often written out of sequence, with segue sections and foundation knowledge not always completed in order.

The Wiki.

Unlike a blog, a wiki is indexed, and has clear focus on continually updating previous entries. Wikis have proved extremely successful for anthologies which provide a repository of information, but the challenge is a mechanism for an overall editorial perspective that spans entries.

Introducing The Blook.

A Proposed Evolution of the Reference Book.

I propose a concept where the work to produce a reference book is shared live in a blog like manner, creating a cross between a blog and a traditional book.

Unlike a blog, an overall structure and and table of contents is required prior to the book being complete. As a refence book, information required to allow a reader to progress through sections may also be required.

So how does this fit with blogging?

For a novel, it would not. However for refence books, all the research could be shared as work progresses, as it is common that parts of the book can stand alone even if the full value is not provided until the work has been made complete and consistent.

How It Works.

The proposal is that entries, or as I call them “explorations” are created and listed as blog posts or “page candidates”, but then reviewed, with those entries found to be worthy “bound” into a structure of sections and chapters with a sequence, and provided with summaries.

People can view individual entries as they are written, or view the current state of the overall reference to find specific information on areas of interest at the time it interests them, rather than as the entries are written.

Will this work? This site is an experiment to see if it can.

Successful Candidates.

Successful Candidates are those later determined worthy of being read other than when they were first written.

Why is something interesting?

The main criteria I am planning to apply is that exploration either came upon a surprise, or was initiated in response to a surprise. If there is no surprise when you read for just to see if it is interesting, then what was th epoint? If theere was no surpise, why bother?

Well there are some other reasons, but here is my list to start:

Surprise value: there is something there is information beyond that which can be found elsewhere.

Reference value: the information is either normally scattered and uncollated, requires graphing or other presentation mechanisms not normally provided, or just really hard to find.


I originally referred to the pages on this site as ‘posts’, but on reflection I feel that is misleading and have decided to use the word ‘explorations‘ instead, and will explain.

Explorations are not diary style ‘blog posts’, but more discovery missions. Explorations are revisited and updated over time as I discover more. Explorations do not start as a belief I wish share, but as something to be investigated.

This site is not designed to generate revenue or to attempt to convince the world of a specific point of view. There are times I come to the conclusion and feel “wow, others should see this”, but this site has no promotional mechanism and is not going to practice the type of polarisation required for popularity.

There are three reasons ‘explorations’ can be seen by the public:

  • That writing notes on an exploration knowing it is possible anyone just might read my notes creates additional discipline try and be accurate.
  • In cases where someone I know has asked me something, it can allow me to share what I find with that person.
  • It allows others to add to what I discover by way of comments.

Originally I waited until an exploration had come to a conclusion before allowing it to be seen by others, but I am now revising that, and opening the investigation from an early stage. This leads to explorations being classified specific ‘publication’ types:

  • Time Capsule (not updated as significant for time)
  • Reference.
  • Newer Version Available : not to be indexed.
  • (default) ?
  • Needs Update (block from show on lists for now): not to be indexed
  • Needs New (needs new page or update but don’t block): still indexed.
  • Reference – not a prediction, but record of how things are (or were if also time capsule)
  • Explored – The subject has been explored to a found where can conclusions can be made.
  • Surprises – Unexpected outcomes where found during exploration.
  • Preview: Topic that are a work in progress. Could be worth bookmarking if you are interested in the topic to see what follow, but so far inconclusive.
  • Resource Collections: Topics that are considered worth exploring, but still collecting at collecting information stage for later exploration. If time has passed and you are interested please comment on in order to bring it to attention. – not indexed.

Each page is an exploration of an idea. with the goal that through the process of trying to arrange my thoughts sufficiently clearly that anyone could see them, will help crystallise more clearly what makes sense and what does not in relation to issues that come to my attention.

There is no attempting to convince people of any particular perspective. Anyone is welcome to read, and perhaps even provide other perspectives for consideration. This site is not constructed with any mechanisms to attract readers, and by being in text rather popular video format, seeking to be balanced rather than polarising, is the opposite of what thrives on social media.

Comment?

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