Archive for May, 2011

Videos of the Unbound Book Conference

Posted: May 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm  |  By: Lily Antflick  |  Tags: , , , , , , ,

For those who couldn’t make it to the recent Unbound Book conference, all videos of the conference are now viewable on vimeo!

Videos are available for each of our five sessions which include:
1- What is a Book?
2- The Unbound Book
3- Ascent of E-Readers
4- Future Publishing Industries
5- Books by Design
6- Horizons of Education and Authoring

Below is Miha Kovac’s compelling talk during the “What is a Book?” session on May 20th.

For more videos please visit our vimeo page here.

IDPF 2011: the Digital Book

Posted: May 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm  |  By: Morgan Currie  |  Tags: ,

For all you e-book formatting geeks out there, a conference on digital books and formats just took place in New York this week. Mostly execs and developers with a smattering of professors giving talks about how our reading devices will shape up. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any documentation of what the speakers had to say.

From their site: IDPF Digital Book 2011 will be a one-and-a-half day educational conference that gives attendees the opportunity to network with global leaders in digital publishing business and technology. Learn about the latest trends in the digital publishing industry through expert panels and in-depth demonstrations and case studies. Included are workshops on the EPUB standard including the new EPUB 3 revision, eBook production, workflow, and best practices.

Saskia De Vries: Hybrid Publishing Model

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm  |  By: Lily Antflick  |  Tags: , , , , , ,

Saskia C.J. De Vries is managing director and senior editor of the Amsterdam University Press. In 2005, she started up Leiden University Press, a new [digital] imprint for dissemination of academic research materials at Leiden. Since 2008, AUP is coordinator of the EU funded project, Open Access Publishing in European Networks ( She is a fellow of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (Royal Dutch Society of Sciences), of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letteren (Society of Netherlandic Literature) and on the board of the National Museum of Natural History and EIFL.

Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg.

During the Digital Enclosures session, Saskia De Vries, a strong believer in the creative commons, offers us the Amsterdam University Press’ point of view. She ponders whether it is appropriate to divide the publishing world into three categories and concludes that the answer is yes, because of different markets, content and types of authors.

De Vries discusses how the funders of academic research allocate funds and thus define scholarly communication and publishing. She believes that in the Open Access Publishing model, ‘authors pay’ should still be implemented, specifically in the realms of the humanities and social sciences. The Amsterdam University Press publication model aims toward a hybrid model of publishing- combining Open Access, traditional print, ebooks or PoD.

De Vries condemns the recent trend of glamorizing the author in popular culture. She stresses the fact that authors should not behave like performers, but instead should remain outside of the public eye to do what they do best, write. She criticizes the celebritization of authors claiming that it produces “rubbish texts”.

She concludes by applauding the Internet for its democratizing abilities, for it allows different countries to advance and alter their status on the global playing field.

For more information, please visit

The Rietveld videos for the Unbound Book

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm  |  By: Suzanne Schram  | 

Students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie made video introductions for the sessions and workshops of the Unbound Book conference. The Graphic Design students developed the videos during the Interaction Design course by Luna Maurer and Roel Wouters.

The first video introduced the audience to the first workshop on Thursday: ‘Open Publishing Tools’. The video is called ‘Sharing is Caring’.

To see the rest of the videos, click below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Henry Warwick: Digital Enclosures

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm  |  By: Lily Antflick  |  Tags: , , , , ,

Henry Warwick is an artist, composer and scientist who received his BFA from Rutgers University in Visual Systems Studies, a major of his own invention. Henry received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College. He is assistant professor in Communication Theory and Digital Media at Ryerson University, in Toronto, Ontario.

Warwick discusses ‘atok’ or access to knowledge, which represents the public’s fundamental right to knowledge. He uses the example of AAAAARG which uploads texts in PDF form for people to download and allows for comment, discussion and community formation. This is an example of a platform which has the ability to disseminate information around the world, however, the content may be ephemeral. The main issue here is access to knowledge.

Henry Warwick explains how citizens are ultimately being charged enormous amounts of money for access to knowledge. He describes this disconnect in academic publishing.

He also notes that the web is no longer resilient, it used to be thought of as a tough structure that was impermeable, however in reality, it is very precarious. The recent events in Egypt and the shutting down of the web exemplify this. This is frightening because it represents an end to net neutrality, a construct which was believed to be a fundamental attribute of the internet. Other possible issues mentioned include: file formats and spotlight citations.

Warwick concludes that the hard drive has great advantages over the internet because he believes that it is more durable due to the fact that one cannot shut it down.

For more information, please visit

Tallahassee discusses ‘The Future of the Book’

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 10:21 am  |  By: Suzanne Schram  |  Tags: ,

Florida State University and the Panhandle Library Access Network are organizing a two-day conference on 21 – 22 July also on ‘The Future of the Book’. The aim of the conference is “to explore the significance of emergent digital technologies on the dissemination and reading of text for research and pleasure.”

Bob Stein, founder of the Institute for the Future of the Book and the Voyager Company and one of our speakers this weekend, is one of the keynotes. Lynn Sutton, Ph.D. is Dean of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at the University Wake Forest, there to talk about libraries: ‘As Libraries Change: Keep Your Eyes on the Readers’. Another featured speaker is Elaine Treharne, a lecturer of Book History, bringing philosophy into the mix: ‘You Kant Touch This: the Immanent Book and the Digital Age’.

For more information:

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm: Can the Literary Publishing Industry Learn to Adapt?

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 10:06 am  |  By: Lily Antflick  |  Tags: , , ,

Christiaan A. Alberdingk Thijm is a partner at the boutique law firm SOLV. Based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the firm specializes in technology, media and communications law. Christiaan is considered a copyright law expert, especially where it concerns the application of copyright in a digital environment. He frequently advises about e-books and has had the opportunity to speak about the subject on numerous occasions. Besides his work as an attorney he teaches copyright and information law at the University of Amsterdam. In June 2011 his debut novel The Trial of the Century (‘Het process van de eeuw’) will be published.

Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm @ the unbound book conference – photo cc by-sa Sebastiaan ter Burg

In theme with his professional experience working for Kazaa (the first file sharing company that received a positive victory from the supreme court) Christiaan focuses his discussion during the Digital Enclosures Workshop on the copyright and file sharing wars.

He believes that the publishing industry should think of itself and be thought of as a service company. He explains how others must pay them for a service with either royalties or a grand sum. This change in perception of the literary publishing industry in to a service company is a change they must make mentally in order to succeed.

The issue of rights has become a problem with e-books and publishing companies because of the fear of piracy. Like the music and motion picture industries, the realm of books must now confront this dilemma. Thijm mentions that the publishing world should take note and learn from instances of the past, such as what took place in music file sharing. However, the book and publishing industry is very old-fashioned and the question must be asked, are they capable of adapting?

Thijm mentions the institution of the Library as being a very culturally important establishment but also currently facing a large problem with public lending and e-books. Public lending rights don’t apply to digital books, but only to physical books which forces the Libraries to go to the specific publishers and ask permission to lend out digital books. Many publishers are subsequently only allowing downloads from the Library premises. This forces the librarians and institution builders to re-examine and focus in on the space of library to ensure that it is a comfortable, enjoyable environment for the public to reside and learn.

For more information, please visit

Book Launch of CPOV Series # 7: A Wikipedia Reader

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 8:16 am  |  By: Lily Antflick  | 

We are pleased to announce the launch of  the Critical Point of View Reader: A Wikipedia Reader

CPOV is compiled of a network of investigators, researchers, artists, activists and writers who have conducted independent Wikipedia research outside of  the Wikipedia sphere. ‘Critical’ need not have a negative connotation but simply means that we want to have the space and freedom to openly discuss all aspects of Wikipedia.

Our reader, series # 7, focuses less on the question of truth but rather emphasizes historical aspects, power struggles, the history of the encyclopedia and the role of the editor.

Through collaboration with a diverse international network of scholars, the result of the Wikipedia reader reflects a non-Western, post-colonial point of view.

We distribute this reader as both a contribution and proposal to further develop Wikipedia.

Available for free download as a pdf or in hard copy, also available for education purposes. To order a hard copy of the reader, send an  email:

For more information and PDF download, please click here:

Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz (eds), Critical Point of View: A Wikpedia Reader, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011. ISBN: 978-90-78146-13-1, paperback, 385 pages.

Florian Cramer on sober genealogies of the (un)bound dialectic

Posted: May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm  |  By: Rachel O'Reilly  |  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Geert Lovink introduced this title panel of the conference by mainframing its attempt at Nietzchean thinking around the binding and unbinding of the book – not in terms of ethics or morality, beyond the book as a sentimental object, and more in terms of the exploded situation of the present.

Researcher and theorist Florian Cramer, currently, Centre for Creative Professions at Willem de Kooning Academy Hogeschool Rotterdam, threw up a series of very concrete genealogical provocations. Cramer came to new media as a classically trained philologist, precisely through interest in the situation of electronic literature 20 years ago, the 91 launch of electronic book applications such as Voyager and so on. The Unbound Book’s title panel evokes for him a troublingly “strong sense of deja vu”. Considering all the experimentation with multimedia writing in the 80s and early 90s that happened before net art and multimedia design, and that has now “completely stagnated” in the hands of its same early agents, Cramer asked provocatively about the elided techno-cultural links here: what does the history of artistic experimentation (indeed early electronic or not) have to do with this apparent present (nostalgic? or ahistoric?) conversation around unboundedness?

Florian Cramer @ the unbound book conference

Florian Cramer @ the unbound book conference – photo cc by-sa Sebastiaan ter Burg

David Stairs’ Boundless (1983) provides an important theoretical reference point, being emblematic of the dialectic that Cramer emphasises is always at issue:

“Binding and unbinding exist in it in a fruitful paradox, a tension that nevertheless boils down to binding as the lowest common denominator of a book. A book, in other words, is almost anything bound together, or unbound in negative reference to the former. To be unbound, after all, does not mean to be boundless.” Further, there are important spatial dimensions of being bound, alongside the temporal: bound “so that it doesn’t fall apart”, and bound in the sense of enduring coherently. For Cramer, “the idea of the book is one that can be read in 1, 5, and 100 years time.” Exceptions presented by unstable books (citing here Dieter Roth and Jan Voss‘s work, available from Amsterdam’s Bookie Woekie), only prove the rule. Yet this strong dialectical appreciation of bound/unbound “bookness” seems absent from the panel description which seems to incorrigibly describe the web rather than the book. If it were really a book, “links would be broken, social tags spammed, geo-location programming interfaces would have changed, the codecs for the video and sound … obsolete, and it wouldn’t work on your screen in 2021 anyway.”

Cramer’s point is that this is exactly what happened with electronic literature 20 years ago, carrying itself on the “exact same slogans”: “linking, multimedia, interactivity, networking.” The Expanded Books series launched by Bob Stein’s Voyager company, an apple-specific project inspired by the Powerbook in 91, is the near-same event as the ipad inspiring “unbound” literary experiments and ereading start-ups today. They are even ‘unbinding’ exactly the same texts! Noting the John Cage reference, Cramer sees that we’re almost literally revisiting George Landow’s hypertext media theory:

We must abandon conceptual systems founded upon ideas of centre, margin, hierarchy, and linearity and replace them with ones of multi-linearity, modes, links, and networks. Almost all parties to this paradigm shift, which marks a revolution in human thought, see electronic writing as a direct response to the strengths and weaknesses of the printed book. (Landow, Hypertext, 1992).

Similar enthusiasm surrounded the audiovisual media/theory of the early 90s, but film and games have stayed separate for the most part, and “it’s the same with books and the web.” Of course ebook culture has emerged, but it is embodied instead by two “commercial and anti-commercial extremes, Amazon’s Kindle e-book store and… the text-cultural equivalent of iTunes and mp3 file sharing respectively.” The actual historical passage of digital music and audio is strikingly similar to the present situation of the book: “people simply shared and collected simple audio files”, just as we today sample “plain vanilla PDFs, ascii and epub files.” So in fact the book’s trajectory is: “premedieval scroll, bounded codex, computer file.” Cramer predicts: “Hardly anyone will buy interactive mulitmedia books, just as they didn’t in the 1990s.” The book becomes merely solidified by the contrary nature of the web.

From a history of artistic experimentation around the book we can be sure of this, as Drucker’s work shows.

Even in their most experimental and unstable forms, books do not leave beyond their material unity or binding. They are persistently “thought of as a whole… an entity, to be reckoned with in (their) entirety” (Drucker, 122). This is not a conservative statement, Cramer emphasies. Even classical examples of “unbound” literary books such as Marc Saporta’s Composition no. 1, Raymond Queneau’s One hundred thousand billion poems, indeed “explode the corpus,” but do so by evoking it “ex negativo.” The binding here becomes only more accentuated.

Its interesting at this point to observe that Drucker’s definition of “artist books,” the continuity of their experimentalism, coincides almost directly with present technical definitions of epublications. This is Drucker:

To remain artist’s books, rather than book-like objects or sculptural works with a book reference to them, these works have to maintain a connection to the idea of the book, to its basic form and function as the presentation of material in relation to a fixed sequence which provides access to its contents (or ideas) through some stable arrangement. Such a definition stretches elastically to reach around books which are card stacks, books which are solid pieces of bound material, and other books whose nature defies easy characterisation.

Meanwhile Cramer adumbrates more recent epub specifications in the following way:

Epublications are not limited to linear content… but the basic assumption is there is an order that is not achievable through html alone. A key concept of epublication is as multiple resources that may be consumed in a specific order. They are in essence offline media, self-contained documents with downloading features.

From this point of coincidence though, the technical, political, and aesthetic possibilities of epub experimentation is much more difficult than what the present discourses of unboundedness suggest. Cramer gives the example of the Boem Paukeslag project produced at Piet Zwarte, an effort to publish a visual poem as animation on an ereader, using entirely non-standardized code. This was only possible through extreme amounts of crude technical hacking, with the result restricted to reading on this single hacked device. The gesture of the work is this exercise of difficult possibility in the era of ereading.

Cramer ended by ruminating on the increased interest in and mainstreaming of artist books today, as a “genre of graphic design.” Print itself here seems to be becoming a “boutique niche of materiality.” This is its entropy: “all print books strive to become coffee table books, often with warm, fuzzy and unbound characteristics”. The artist book becomes a real or auratic object, and tech art schools become implicated in “producing boutique collectiables for rich people,” not unlike vinyl collection. The image of the young Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby, enamoured by the great library at the houseparty of the Long Island bourgoise, and picking up up a book from a shelf only to realise that not one on the shelf had been read, seems to resonate even more strongly in the present. Electronic books in contrast are the cheap paperback books of our time, for better and for worse.

PDF of presentation available here: Unbound Book.

The Book Tomorrow: the Future of the Written Word

Posted: May 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm  |  By: Suzanne Schram  |  Tags:

The second UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries will be organized at Lombardia, Italy on 6-8 June. The theme of Focus 2011 is ‘The Book Tomorrow: the future of the Written Word’.

There are three main themes: “The E-book Economy”, “Author’s Right in the Digital Era” and “The Digital Library” – and nine workshops: “Blog versus Newspaper”, “Future of writing and reading”, “Changes in the production and distribution chain”, “Copyright versus copy-left”, “Fair use and Creative Commons”, “Preserving the digital memory”, “The library as public service”, “Good and bad in public and private partnership” and  “The risks of digitization”.

Keynotes are Robert Darnton, Milad Doueihi and Antonio Skarmeta. Other speakers include Esther Wojcicki, vice chairman of the board of directors of Creative Comnnons and the director of the Frankfurt Book Fair Jürgen Boos. Editor and publisher James Bridle, one of the speakers at Unbound Book, and Kristine Hanna, director of the Internet Archive are two of the workshop panelists.

‘The Book Tomorrow’ is tapping into a similar set of issues addressed at Unbound Book, but seems more focused on the debate about copyright, rather than formal changes to the book and on education. 

See for more information: