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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    And when is a book not a book?

    My oft-quoted comment from the president of NetLibrary (reinforced by the title of the NetLibrary paper before mine at the Book 2.0 seminar) that in less than 10 years there will be no e-books, only e-content was brought to mind again by a comment by Momus (Scottish pop musician) after a visit to The Institute for the Future of the Book - the if:book blog reports his comment as:
    It seems they're assuming that the book itself is already over, and that it will survive now as a metaphor for intelligent conversation in networks.
    As I have said before, it seems to me that it is - and will remain - useful to be able to distinguish between the different forms of communication: informal, formal, scholarly; and short-term importance, long-term value, heritage value, etc. One of the ways this is done is by distinguishing between an e-mail, a blog posting, a newspaper article, an article in a magazine, an article in a scholarly journal, a textbook, a monograph, and so on.
    Momus also wrote:

    Momus splices his thoughts on us with some musings on "blooks" (books that began as blogs), commenting on the recently announced winners of lulu.com's annual Blooker Prize:

    What is a blook? It's a blog that turns into a book, the way, in evolution, mammals went back into the sea and became fish again. Except they didn't really do that, although undoubtedly some of us still enjoy a good swim.
    OK - so there is going to be evolution amongst these forms, and strange hybrids will emerge - OK; but they are still named and distinguished from each other. I think there is a qualitative difference between a book, a blook and an 'intelligent conversation in networks'. And I think that readers have to be able to recognise and respond to this difference. Vive la... as someone once said!

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