27 de abril de 2011

Me admira la gente que tiene la capacidad de inventar ideas, historias, de prever tendencias, de imaginar cómo será el futuro.

Creo que en parte es así porque yo me siento completamente incapaz de hacerlo: tengo la impresión de que lo único que se me da bien es buscar información interesante (para mí, claro) y apuntar hacia ella a quien me quiera hacer algo de caso. (Para eso uso Twitter, por ejemplo.)

O, como mucho, tratar de enlazar varias de las cosas que voy leyendo de múltiples fuentes (cada vez más, demasiadas), que es lo que hago sobre todo en el otro blog. Y lo que haría con mucha más frecuencia si no me costase tanto redactar posts mínimamente coherentes.

En fin, todo esto para explicar cuánto me gusta leer a gente como Kevin Kelly, que escribe así sobre lo que es un libro:

A book is a self-contained story, argument, or body of knowledge that takes more than an hour to read. A book is complete in the sense that it contains its own beginning, middle, and end.


A self-contained story, unified narrative and closed argument has a strange attraction for us. There is a natural resonance that draws a network around it. We'll debundle books into their constituent bits and pieces and knit those into the web, but the higher level organization of the book will be the focus for attention -- that remaining scarcity in our economy. A book is an attention unit. A fact is interesting, an idea is important, but only a story, a good argument, a well-crafted narrative is amazing, never to be forgotten. As Muriel Rukeyser said, "The universe is made of stories, not atoms."

Y cómo cree él que serán los libros del futuro, de una forma a la vez suficientemente creíble y muy sugerente: libros fluidos, que podrán leerse en cualquier superficie porque habrá pantallas por doquier, libros que aún no han encontrado el dispositivo de lectura ideal que permita centrar la atención del lector sin limitar las posibilidades que ofrece lo digital, libros conectados entre sí hasta formar un único libro universal:

You can get a sense of what this might be like by visiting Wikipedia. Think of Wikipedia as one very large book -- a single encyclopedia -- which of course it is. Most of its 27 million pages are crammed with words underlined in blue, indicating those words are hyperlinked to concepts elsewhere in the encyclopedia. Wikipedia is the first networked book. In the goodness of time as all books become fully digital, every one of them will accumulate the equivalent of blue underlined passages as each literary reference is networked within that book and all other books. This deep rich hyperlinking will weave all networked books into one large meta-book, the universal library. Over the next century, scholars and fans, aided by computational algorithms, will knit together the books of the world into a single networked literature. A reader will be able to generate a social graph of an idea, or a timeline of a concept, or a networked map of influence for any notion in the library. We'll come to understand that no work, no idea, stands alone, but that all good, true and beautiful things are networks, ecosystems of intertwingled parts, related entities and similar works.


At the moment we are in a scramble to find the right container for digital books. Released from their paper shells, books seem to need more than the open vastness of the web. They like the viral compactness of a PDF, but not its rigid appearance. The iPad is sensual and intimate (like the content of books) but currently heavy in the hand. The Kindle has the advantages of focusing attention, which they like. The latter two containers charge for their convenience and interface, which feeds authors. Books can appear on any screen, and will be read anywhere it is possible to read them, but I think they will gravitate toward favorable forms that optimize reading.

In the long run (next 10-20 years) we won't pay for individual books any more than we'll pay for individual songs or movies. All will be streamed in paid subscription services; you'll just "borrow" what you want. That defuses the current anxiety to produce a container for ebooks that can be owned. Ebooks won't be owned. They'll be accessed. The real challenge ahead is finding a display device that will focus the attention a book needs. An invention that encourages you onward to the next paragraph before the next distraction. I guess that this will be a combination of software prompts, highly evolved reader interfaces, and hardware optimized for reading. And books written with these devices in mind.

Kevin Kelly, en What Books Will Become

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