The Web and Books of the Future

Given the way the internet has become firmly entrenched in our lives, how do you think books of the future will look and how will these “new books” be read and used?   Is the web making books obsolete, or will a new kind of book emerge from within the web world?

I’m thinking of the possible development of a post web “new book” in analogy to the way our current books evolved from oral tradition.  For example, it seems natural that linear narrative should grow out of oral histories, songs,  poetry, and rote memorization and repetition of speeches.  The text of most books transcribes what could also be narrated.     The major difference is that, being physical objects, books have permanence and can be distributed widely.   Some of the freedom and fluidity is lost when a relatively small group of people decide what to print and disseminate in bulk, but there are established mechanisms to preserve a level of consistency and quality and books can reach beyond the inner circle to unimaginably far away worlds.

With the internet, free-flowing information has re-emerged, and a new establishment (or anti-establishment) has formed. People regularly go to the internet instead of to books for information, enrichment and entertainment.   They “go” not to bookstores and libraries, but to websites that resonate with their beliefs and suit their tastes.  The result is a new sort of “village”.  The modern version of a “village” may be geographically diverse but narrowly focused, and miles apart from other “villages.” In other words, the internet gives us more choices, but  it takes conscious effort not to let it reinforce our prejudices and phobias.

What will be the “new book”?  Multiple screens and interactive features?  Intelligent merging of aural, visual and kinetic elements to optimize absorption?  Will books, music, and film merge into one another?

And in all this, how will the concept of authorship evolve?

As always, your comments are welcome!


Featured Book of the Day

Class Field Theory by Emil Artin and John Tate

This classic book, originally published in 1968, is based on notes of a year-long seminar the authors ran at Princeton University. The primary goal of the book was to give a rather complete presentation of algebraic aspects of global class field theory, and the authors accomplished this goal spectacularly: for more than 40 years since its first publication, the book has served as an ultimate source for many generations of mathematicians.

In this revised edition, two mathematical additions complementing the exposition in the original text are made. The new edition also contains several new footnotes, additional references, and historical comments.

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2 Responses to The Web and Books of the Future

  1. Avatar Anthony P. says:

    You may be interested in Timothy Gower’s recent talk about the current state of academic publishing. He mentions how the internet overall has changed discourse in math research.

  2. Avatar Victor Porton says:

    I try to devise a system that could replace old means such as HTML and TeX. The way of the future is XML, processed in innovative, automatic ways, based on namespaces.

    I had certain success already: I wrote (a formal specification) and software that implements it. This is a very big step forward.

    I implemented most of it in my software XML Boiler. The main trouble with it was it being somehow too slow. I started to rewrite it in D programming language instead of Python, so far the project stopped here. Need funding. Contact me.

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