Reinventing the Book in the Age of the Web


Tim O'Reilly: "The web has changed the nature of how we read and learn. Most books still use the old model of a sustained narrative as their organizational principle. Here, we've used a web-like model of standalone pages, each of which can be read alone (or at most in a group of two or three), to impart key points, highlight interesting techniques or the best applications for a given task. Because the basics are so easy, there's no need to repeat them, as so many technical books do. Instead, we can rely on the reader to provide (much of) the implicit narrative framework, and jump right to points that they might not have thought about."


Which Tim O says (or admits) in the long, interesting comment stream: His wondrous new book models are relevant to some things, not all.

I don't see sustained narrative changing all that rapidly--for those areas where sustained narrative works best. Many nonfiction books are much more than sets of annotated links, as are all good fiction books.

If I was writing the equivalent of MARC for Library Use in 2010 (Gaia forbid!), most of it probably would use the kind of model O'Reilly's talking about--because that would be more effective for that particular task. But Future Libraries would be pretty much the form that it was.

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