Paper vs. Electronic Brick, What’s the Difference?

I think the comparison that Elmer Masters is looking for in The Future of The (Case)Book Is The Web, is paper vs. electronic brick, what’s the difference?

He writes:

Recently there has been an explosion of advances in the ebook arena. New tools, new standards and formats, and new platforms seem to be coming out every day. The rush to get books into an “e” format is on, but does it make a real difference?

The “e” versions of books offer little in the way of improvement over the print version of the same book. Sure, these new formats provide a certain increase in accessibility over print by running on devices that are lighter than print books and allow for things like increasing font size, but there is little else. It is, after all, just a matter of reading the same text on some sort of screen instead of paper.

Markelaw school booksters will tell you that the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and various software readers are the future of the book, an evolutionary, if not revolutionary, step in reading and learning. But that does not ring true. These platforms are really just another form for print. So now beside hard cover and paperback, you can get the same content on any number of electronic platforms. Is that so revolutionary? Things like highlighting and note taking are just replications of the analog versions. Like their analog counterparts, notes and highlights on these platforms are typically locked to the hardware or software reader, no better than the highlights and margin notes of print books. These are just closed platforms, “e” or print, just silos of information.

Unlocking the potential of a book that is locked to a specific platform requires moving the book to an open platform with no real limits like the web. On the web the the book is suddenly expansive. Anything that you can do on the web, you can do with a book. As an author, reader, student, teacher, scholar; anything is possible with a book that is on the open web. The potential for linking, including external material, use of media, note taking, editing, markup, remixing are opened without the bounds of a specific reader platform. A book as a website provides the potential for unlimited customization that will work across any hardware platform.

If you have ever seen a print version of a law school casebook, you know what I mean by “paper brick.”

If you have a Kindle, Nook, etc., with a law school casebook, you know what I mean by “electronic brick.”

The latter is smaller, lighter, can carry more content, but it is still a brick, albeit an electronic one.

Elmer’s moniker “website” covers an HTML engine that serves out topic map augmented content.

We have all seen topic map engines that export to HTML output.

What about specifying HTML authoring that is by default the equivalent to the export a topic map?

And tools that automatically capture such website content and “merge” it with other specified content? A “point and click” interface for authors.

All from the FWB (Friendly Web Browser). 😉

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