Books 2.0

Friday, November 27, 2009


In the future, reading and writing will be a social activity, the hierarchy between authors and readers will disappear, readers will help write a book while they're reading it. Skeptical? You're not the first. Bob Stein of The Institute for the Future of the Book is used to skepticism, but he's seen the future and he's here to talk about it.

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Comments [6]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Bah! The collaborative method has been alive in the performing arts for many, many centuries, the content of their work often provided by the "lonely" writer but often, also, the result of group improvisation, from Comedia del Arte to Second City. This is not new.

Plus, many a work has suffered from the collaboration. Look at Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany as compared to the film based upon it, Simon Birch. Despite good intentions; ugh!

Dec. 04 2009 03:15 AM
KA Schloegel from Minneapolis

A couple years ago I set up a collaborative writing experiment at The idea was to try to generate a "Choose Your Own Adventure" story by allowing input from whoever wanted to add pages. It never got too far off the ground and the story quickly began to diverge wildly ... but it was fun.

Dec. 02 2009 05:55 PM
Mike Seiler from Michigan

Many new trends coexist with the old not replace them. Collaborative works already exist online in wikis and forums, but there will always be a place for the creative perspective of the individual.

Nov. 30 2009 12:41 PM
Jeff Shrager from Palo Alto, CA

I think that those whole think that books will be completely replaced by e-reading have never watched a baby or young child interact with a book. We used to tell stories to our children, and they fell in love with hearing and telling stories, and carried them on in oral traditions. Now we read to them, and eventually they read to themselves and they fall in love with books. But can you imagine a child ever falling in love with a kindle!? (That is if you can even imaging giving your 6-month-old your kindle to begin with; if it was working at all upon return it would be covered in drool!) To a young child, the physicality of the book (or, in earlier times, the physicality of human story telling) are what draw young children to books from the very earliest ages. Before e-reading entirely replaces books and story-telling, we will have to have another revolution in technology that embeds words once more in something akin to these physical settings that mean something to babies and young children in the years where these attachments are formed.

Nov. 30 2009 12:12 AM
Wallace J. Nichols from Davenport, CA

A colleague and I are considering writing a book using the open, collaborative, transparent, messy approach that Bob describes. Sounds like fun. Wondering which are the best works in progress that we might learn from or online tools that could help us not reinvent the wheel too much?

Nov. 30 2009 12:01 AM
Joseph Alexander from Somewhere in the US (moving)

I love Bob's comments and insights! His comments reflect a major paradigm shift which is felt so strongly in creative businesses because it is the creative aspect of human culture driving the shift. Personally, I believe it is a shift toward community and collective engagement, but I am no futurist. I am a lawyer with a background in Intellectual Property law and see that our legal regimes protecting institutions and patterns of the industrial age are confounded by the way we are starting to live and communicate. Ownership and authorship by individuals has not been the full story, only a perspective we have chosen (look at all the litigation over creative rights to music, film and software). I look forward to the cultural explosion in books and other works as collective creations.

Nov. 29 2009 03:20 PM

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