What is a book made of and what can it turn into? Let’s look at The Book That Exploded

This section of the blog collects and reflects on deconstructed, appropriated, reassembled, and invented ways of the book—creating (over time) a repository of the past, the present and the future of distributed knowledge.


The Dewline Newsletter II/3 ("The End of Steel and/or Steal: Corporate Criminality Vs. Collective Responsibility" (Nov-Dec 1969)) which included the famous card deck

The Dewline Newsletter II/3 (“The End of Steel and/or Steal: Corporate Criminality Vs. Collective Responsibility” (Nov-Dec 1969)) which included the famous card deck


A Hybrid Publishing Consortium research report
by Simon Worthington and Christina Kral

Player: https://mcluhan.consortium.io/
Software: https://github.com/consortium/hybrid-lecture-player

A research case study focused on traces on the archive, revealing the hidden journey of a user through an archive, based on the Marshall McLuhan collection at the McLuhan Salon, Canadian Embassy, Berlin. The case study by the Hybrid Publishing Consortium (HPC), investigates the future of publishing and user engagement with museums, archives and libraries. HPC is dedicated to Open Source software development and enabling cross-media interoperability. Continue Reading…

Otlet diagramBook Remixing #03 is the third in a series of workshops for designing and making new types of hybrid books. The hybrid book, or unbound book, is an experiment to investigate what happens once the book is free of its current form of a printed book and usable in multiple and malleable digital forms. Continue Reading…

Traces of McLuhan – A Media Sprint at the Marshall McLuhan Salon


In late November, the Hybrid Publishing Consortium held a one day workshop at the Marshall McLuhan Salon in the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. This intense and positively stirring event brought together McLuhan scholars and software developers who all shared their views on working with and publishing from the archive. Together we mapped out these perspectives, potential needs and approaches.

The day concluded with a practical session hosted by Erich Decker and Matthias Helmut Guth from Cluster Asia Europe at the Heidelberg University. After showcasing their cross media annotation tools, they walked us through the technology, applying it to the specific case of the McLuhan archive and its video and textual content. Naturally this session could only raise awareness of what can be done and provide a feel for the workflow—it’s only just the beginning.

Hence, in early 2015 we plan, together with participants from the workshop, to complete two smaller projects that will focus on two particular works within the archive and employ the technology introduced during the media sprint. The aim will be to create small, tangible packages that can be used for educational purposes and the promotion of the archive and its content. More on that soon.

Happy new year!

Amongst the participants were Delphine Bedel, Sabine Claßnitz, Peter Cornwell, Eric Lars Decker, Baruch Gottlieb, Matthias Helmut Guth, Stephen Kovats, Alexander Kramer, Heinz-Günter Kuper, Martina Leeker and Steffi Winkler.


Last month, Hybrid Publishing team member Michael Dieter took part in a book sprint on book sprints, the full text of which is available to download below. Part theorization, part “how to guide,” this is a first attempt to reflect on an emerging short form method of collaborative writing.

Link to the full text: http://www.booksprints.net/2014/05/book-sprint-on-book-sprints/

On Thursday and Friday (22-23 May), the international conference “Off the Press: Electronic Publishing in the Arts”, organized by our friends from the Digital Publishing Toolkit initiative, will take place in Rotterdam (NL).

Off the Press

The conference starts at the renowned Museum Bojimans van Beuningen with the sessions “Today’s Book Publishing” and “One thousand and one Publishing Workflows” (both featuring experts from all over the globe), followed by an introduction to the Digital Publishing toolkit and showcases by international artists/designers and publishers.

During the evening session at the legendary WORM, artists and designers will present their own practices and approaches to digital publishing that both take advantage of and question the current modes of content production and dissemination.

The second day begins with three parallel workshops called “Paper to Code: Transforming the Future of Reading”, “Electronic Publishing Workflows: (Multi)Markdown & Pandoc” (you’ll need a separate ticket for these workshops) and “Superglue: Reshaping the Web?” (free). The event is completed by the session “Underground e-publishing” and the “Bazaar”, in which a number of artists, publishers and other practitioners of electronic publishing will showcase their projects in an informal way, looking forward to meeting you!

For tickets and more information on the whole event, please visit: http://digitalpublishingtoolkit.org/

Christof Schöch of SocialScienceSpace looks at five collaborative writing tools for academics and how they fit the needs of the modern researcher.

The reviewed tools range from the “lowest common denominator” Google Drive to FidusWriter, a tool loaded with features for academics.

You can read the full review here.

What are some of the tools you use for your collaborative writing projects? Share your thoughts and links in the comments.

Geert LovinkIn todays blogpost for the interview series with our tandem partners we speak with Geert Lovink, founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures, HvA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is also the founder of Internet projects such as nettime and fibreculture.

Julia Rehfeldt: Can you tell us something about your field of research and what you are currently working on at the Hybrid Publishing Lab? Continue Reading…

Organised by Open Knowledge Foundation, UK and taking place in London and online.

Signup: http://www.meetup.com/OpenKnowledgeFoundation/London-GB/1070532/

The event will be a good opportunity to work with some great people, try out news tools and learn some digital  publishing workflows. Teams are looking a visualisation tools, digital editing and content processing workflows in WordPress. Having a road test of Textus should be an interesting ride, fingers crossed. Textus is the OKF web annotation tool set. Hopefully its moved on from its rockier start back in 2012 when I last tried an install without much luck, if not hopefully the group can pitch in and help fix things.

Textus – http://textusproject.org/

Event details

When: 25th January 2014, 11am – 6pm (if 11am is too early for you it’s OK to join later!)

Online: Google Hangout + IRC (#okfn on freenode) http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=okfn

In Person: Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, London, WC1X 9NG
Map link http://osm.org/go/euu4yaNB?m=

Who: Anyone interested in literature, philosophy and taking these online

robott.org/book2/ – This is a public journal by designer and professor Joost Bottema. It starts with a list of contents, each expanding into an entry log. Status: Growing.


or everything

or everything


“Quarterly Co.™ is a subscription service that enables people to receive physical items in the mail from influential contributors of their choice.”

Put your money and trust in people and themes and let yourself be surprised every three months by a ‘publication’ bundle that matters to you.

RapidSMS is a free and open-source framework for dynamic data collection, logistics coordination and communication, leveraging basic short message service (SMS) mobile phone technology.


this book chooses to be advertised generously—multiplatform

this book chooses to be advertised generously—multiplatform

“Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise. Publishing a book is not just putting your thoughts on a blog post. It’s an event. It shows your best curated thoughts and it shows customers, clients, investors, friends and lovers what the most important things on your mind are right now.” Continue Reading…

one meal is made of three dishes: starter, main, desert. left the ingredients, on top the name of the dishes, on the right the process and a time; counting down: serving time is zero. organization galore

one meal is made of three dishes: starter, main, desert. left the ingredients, on top the name of the dishes, on the right the process and a timeline; counting down: serving time is zero. organization galore

“There are many recipe books, but very few based on meals. People often pick up a cookbook at home, but have no idea how to combine the recipe into a sensible meal. This book aims to help by providing meals that have been thought out in their entirety. They have been organized into thirty-one balanced menus each one containing three courses. You can also make your own menus by combining the recipes using the list.” —The Family Meal, Ferran Adrià Continue Reading…


a.nnotate Continue Reading…

$ 1.79 for a somewhat interactive thought experience or meditation excercise

$1.79 for a somewhat interactive thinking experience and meditation excercise

Strange Rain turns your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch into a skylight on a rainy day. Raindrops fall and splatter on your screen, shifting perspective in 3D as you tilt your device like a handheld camera. Touch the screen and guide the path of the raindrops, stepping through the notes of an eerie melody as you go. It’s a relaxing, intriguing experience that feels as if you’re holding a living window in your hands.

The more you touch, however, the more strange the rain becomes: layered skies, visual anomalies and shifts in speed and color, even the occasional cataclysm if you’re not careful. Before your eyes and beneath your fingers, the familiar becomes strange, and the strange, familiar.”


Also a bit of a promotional tool. If you choose the story mode, you have to read what Erik Loyer wrote. You can also choose the Feed mode and that’ll retrieve twitter messages of a certain theme. It didn’t work with mine.


From the Q&A section:
“1. What is New York Writes Itself?
“New York Writes Itself” is an ongoing series of creative productions fueled by the real people of New York – what people see and hear in the city is recorded as a ‘script’, which forms the inspiration for music, creative writing, art exhibitions and more.

2. What is a Scribe?
Scribes should be observational and in touch with the people of New York, ready to capture amazing moments of creativity. Scribes are people who record their observations of people in the streets of New York – great characters they see, scenes they witness, or quotes they hear. Scribes write down their observations in the ever-growing ‘script’, housed at newyorkwritesitself.com

3. Who can be a Scribe?
Potential scribes can be students, writers and generally creative individuals. To be a scribe you must be at least 18 years old and the age of majority in his or her state of residence.

4. If I am a Scribe where does my writing live?
A Scribe’s writing lives in the main ‘Script’ on the NYWI website and in your Scribe profile. You can share your submission with your personal networks thru social media outlets.

5. What is the “Script”?
When Scribes see or hear something of interest in New York, they record it on the ‘script’. The Script is a constant record of all the Scribes’ submissions. We consider the script to be the fuel that drives the creative nature of New York Writes Itself. Check it out here.”


Consider New York :)

Let’s look at a few rapid knowledge production initiatives. Let’s look at book sprints[1], experimental writing[2], and political declarations[3]. And for a little detour let’s include also a pop up library[4] (art project) and a book art project[5].

Speed seems to be key to all of these initiatives—a quick turn around with immediate outcome. To most, Volume is also important (how much has been written within only a short period of time). Often the works are conceived while writing together into a digital pad. Still the work sessions are hosted in one physical location where the participants can share thoughts and discuss live, in person. For the first three examples, the writing also serves as live protocoling the very event.

The act of writing is central to thinking, processing and manifesting. The editing is usually done after the event has taken place and done so remotely via digital communication. Speed, again: the brainstorms and heated discussions turn almost immediately into themes or chapters. Decisions about layout and structure are instant. Formatting is simple and straight forward and style is partially predetermined due to the limitation of the pad. What needs to be agreed upon before typing away are things like: “if it is a quote, we put the credit right after,” or “if you write something that is meant for other people to work on or consider introduce that part with ‘//’ and close with ‘\’.”

The material is usually available in digital form online (mostly for free). Yet, it is in those sessions where the physical manifestation of the work done, becomes important once more. There are usually books or booklets published after the editing phase.

These events have something promotional about them as well. They can be viewed as a performance and since so compressed and compact, the writing process can even be filmed.

choose your reading experience

choose your reading experience

“This book was first created by 6 core collaborators, as an experimental five day Book Sprint in January 2010. Developed under the aegis of transmediale.10, this third publication in the festival’s parcours series resulted in the initiation of a new vocabulary on the forms, media and goals of collaborative practice.

In June 2010, the book was rewritten as a part of the Re:Group exhibition at Eyebeam, NY. This second edition invited three new collaborators to challenge the free culture sentiment underlying the original writing. The result is a deliberately multi-voiced tone pondering the merits and shortcomings of this new emerging ideology.”

psychoeconomy summit, sevilla 2011

psychoeconomy summit, sevilla 2011—thinking, arguing, declaring, writing it all up

“Psychoeconomy is a platform for discussion and artistic research that proposes an alternative approach on various global issues, taking advantage of the particularities for reflection and diffusion generated by the field of art. […] Psychoeconomy proposes the revision of citizen participation on a global scale in the resolution of conflicts in which citizenship as a hole is largely excluded from decision-making but certainly suffers the consequences.”

A declaration was written up (following a long discussion) in only two days.

instant knowledge—instant publication

instant knowledge—instant publication

How to pop up a library within a public library and install a temporary publishing house inside an unusual place. The Pop Up Library project uses the blank booklet as container to collect immediate knowledge. 

the spontaneous book

the spontaneous book, edited by institut für raumexperimente, universität der künste berlin

Spontaneous Book: 06.01.2010 / 14:07 >>>> 08.01.2010 / 16:22

“The spontaneous book series seeks to engage in a group thinking and doing process that produces a result in a short period of time: capturing, processing and producing content simultaneously.
Spontaneous Book: 06.01.2010 / 14:07 >>>> 08.01.2010 / 16:22, on the occasion of a 3-day workshop that included exercises such as walks in public spaces, perception and time experiments, and studio visits.”


Consider speed, volume
Consider manifestation of knowledge
Consider performance and writing as an event
Consider limitations of technology as design choice
Consider the blank book as container



“In remixthebook, Mark Amerika develops a model of contemporary theoretical writing that mashes up the rhetorical styles of performance art, poetry, and the vernacular associated with 21st century social media and networking culture.

Amerika, along with co-curator and artist Rick Silva, has invited over 25 contributing international artists, poets, and critical theorists, all of them interdisciplinary in their own practice-based research, to sample from remixthebook and manipulate the selected source material through their own artistic and theoretical filters. The curators were especially excited about working with colleagues who formally experiment with digital video, audio remixes, critical text collage, computer imaging, social media, glitch, poetry, electracy, copyleft, and online performance.

How to experience the remixes:
Each remix is either linked to its image or embedded object.
For more information on the work or the artist, please click the artist’s name.
No Flash? Click on the mobile links.”

An exercise of what one book/file can become if unlimited access is granted. Yet to sum up all the various results a hard copy book was published to bring it together and onto a shelf.

Below are a few excerpts from Bob Stein’s opinion piece and thoughts on the links between book development and society.

In 2005, Bob formed The Institute for the Future of the Book. “With a group of young people, just out of university and coming of age in the era of the social web, we carried out a number of experiments under the rubric of “networked books.”
This was the moment of the blog and we wondered what would happen if we applied the concept of “reader comments” to essays and books. Our first attempt, McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory, turned out to be a remarkably lucky choice. The book’s structure — numbered paragraphs rather than numbered pages — required my colleagues to come up with an innovative design allowing readers to make comments at the level of the paragraph rather than the page. Their solution to what at the time seemed like a simple graphical UI problem, was to put the comments to the right of each of Wark’s paragraphs rather than follow the standard practice of placing them underneath the author’s text.”

CK: A question of placement and re-ordering existing text; a side-by-side.

“We started to talk about “a book as a place” where people congregate to hash out their thoughts and ideas.”

“Follow the Gamers! And lest, you think this shift applies only to non-fiction, please consider huge multi-player games such as World of Warcraft as a strand of future-fiction where the author describes a world and the players/readers write the narrative as they play the game.”

CK: When considering the future of books very often the focus also is on public engagement, education and development in learning and gaming. They seem interconnected.

“Following McLuhan and his mentor Harold Innis, a persuasive case can be made that print played the key role in the rise of the nation state and capitalism, and also in the development of our notions of privacy and the primary focus on the individual over the collective. Social reading experiments and massive multi-player games are baby steps in the shift to a networked culture. Over the course of the next two or three centuries new modes of communication will usher in new ways of organizing society, completely changing our understanding of what it means to be human.

Consider the book as place
Consider placement and arrangement
Consider the gameing, learning and public engagement as strongly tied to dynamic publishing
Consider the nation state and capitalism


A wordpress plugin to facilitate reader interaction and specific commentary similar to a working document (e.g. word). Prototyped by The Institute of the Future of the Book.

Consider what we can do for now
Consider small changes

“The idea of “the book” guiding design of e-books has been a commonplace, grotesquely reductive and unproductive. No single book exists, so no “idea” of “the” book could be produced in any case. The multiplicity of physical structures and graphic conventions are manifestations of activity, returned to book form as conventions because of their efficacy in guiding use. The notion of a metaphor applied to an element like a table of contents is highly misleading. This is not a metaphor at all, but a program, a set of instructions for performance. By looking to scholarly work for specific understanding of varieties of attitudes towards the book as literal space and a virtual e-space, and to artists and poets for evidence of the way the spaces of a book work, we realize that the traditional codex is also, in an important and suggestive way, already virtual. But also, that the format features of virtual spaces of e-space, electronic space, have yet to encode conventions of use within their graphical forms. As that happens, we will witness the conceptual form of virtual spaces for reading, writing, and exchange take shape in the formats that figure their functions in layout and design.” —Johanna Drucker


“This digital edition of Utopia is open: open to read, open to copying, open to modification. On this site Utopia is presented in different formats in order to enhance this openness. If the visitor wishes to read Utopia online they can find a copy. If they want to download and copy a version, I’ve provided links to do so in different formats for different devices. In partnership with The Institute for the Future of the Book I provide an annotatable and “social” text available for visitors to comment upon what More – or I – have written, and then share their comments with others. Those who like to listen will find a reading of Utopia on audio files, and those who want to watch and look can browse the user-generated galleries of Utopia-themed art and videos. For people interested in creating their own plan of an alternative society, I’ve created Wikitopia, a wiki with which to collaborate with others in drafting a new Utopia. More versions for more platforms are likely to be introduced in the future.” —Stephen Duncombe

composition no 1: the box of unbound pages

composition no 1: the box of unbound pages

The Guardian released an article on Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1, which was first conceived in 1961, and re-born digitally (~2011) as an iPad app by Visual Editions.

composition no1: the ipad app

composition no1: the ipad app

“[…] the overall effect is one of poetic parataxis, disjunctive but coherent.

I’d feared the stochastic arrangement might lessen the overall thrust of the piece—why read to the last page when any page could be the last?—but I hurried to reach the ending. Another reader may have ended on a note of circularity. (“The couch, along the wall, is covered with a Mexican serape. Dagmar is sitting there with her legs folded under her. Above her head, contrasting violently with her blond hair, the dark abstract painting with clots of color that seem to be on fire is still unfinished. It is called Composition No. 1.”) My Composition ended with a bloody ambush of a hideout by the Germans, while two French fighters, sitting quietly out in the woods, listened to the screams. The last line—“A tall German woman with queenly bearing nonchalantly crosses the barnyard. She would be beautiful without her uniform.”—might have had little significance elsewhere, but here I was stunned by its eerily flat tone and sculptural asymmetry. It was not so much what the author did that was impressive, but what he, deliberately, did not.” —Robert Moor

instructions again

instructions again

Reminds me of the Book of Answers, now also available as iPad app, and Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s Opaque Strategies.


adjust the screen and typography according to your reading gusto

adjust the screen and typography according to your reading gusto

Craig Mod is an independent writer, designer and publisher, who produced a number of templates for formless content to be adjusted according to your reading needs, especially suited for iPad.

He also published an interesting view on the future of the book and the challenges and chances for tablet design and reading experience.

Craig on Craig: “I believe there is an emerging confluence of simple technologies around books, publishing, networks and education that can be leveraged to change the way we think about learning and information accessibility. If you’re working in this space, I’d love to chat.”

Consider reading needs on different devices
Consider reading needs in different situations
Consider choice (a design that holds option for the end user not the producer)

another attempt in ebook publishing.

Watch Info trailer and see if you agree:
“Our Choice, a multimedia book app from PushPop Press, opens with a video of Al Gore’s tanned, waxen face speaking directly into the camera. “Welcome to Our Choice,” he says, making a point to refer to it as an app and not a book. He then presents a tutorial on how to read the book, or app, which I found mildly patronizing the first time I launched it (part of the fun of electronic literature lies in mastering a new text’s mechanics) and downright annoying the second and third time. (I did not open it a fourth.)” —Robert Moor

First keep a blog and tend to it frequently: http://bldgblog.blogspot.de/

and then compile and edit a publication:

bldgblog publication

bldgblog publication

all by Geoff Manaugh


StorySpace “is a hypertext writing environment that is especially well suited to large, complex, and challenging hypertexts. Storyspace focuses on the process of writing, making it easy and pleasant to link, revise, and reorganize.”

“The early hypertextualists—Joyce, Moulthrop, Judy Malloy, Shelley Jackson, Rob Swigart, J. Yellowlees Douglas—wrote about interconnectedness, flux, immateriality, and sprawl, themes that reflected the structure of StorySpace, the program most of them used to craft and publish their work.”
Robert Moor


Excerpt taken from Bones of the Book article by Robert Moor.

In 1971 Michael S. Hart initiates the Gutenberg project (he “went on to input and share, with a quixotic singularity of purpose, text after text, from Peter Pan to The Tempest”); he basically invented the e-book.

“For Hart, who died last fall, the book was not sacred. It was simply an easily digitizable object. Inspired by the “replicator” devices he saw on Star Trek, Hart wanted to make all of the world’s design objects—anything that could be scanned and reproduced—available for free on the internet, where they could then be downloaded and reconstituted using 3D printers. He called this shift the “Neo-Industrial Revolution,” and predicted it would occur by the year 2040.”

Tate Modern provides online resources, that accompany their public exhibitions. These resources are primarily aimed at educators to prepare for their visit and embed the exhibition into their syllabus. These packages can become solid companions, providing a next level experience of the exhibition, not limited to educators.

the activities range between hands-on exercises of drawing, collecting, name, making things and more reflective exercises the support discussion and contemplation

the activities range between hands-on exercises of drawing, collecting, name, making things and more reflective exercises the support discussion and contemplation

An educator’s pack comes in different shapes and volume. In very basic terms, it is a website or downloadable pdf with general background information on the artist and the show; splitting up the material into various over-arcing themes. There are anecdotes, trivia and biographical facts. There are various types of activities and forms of engagement, there are images and links to further reading.

educator's pack, how to become engaging and get the most out of an exhibition

educator’s pack, how to become engaging and get the most out of an exhibition

Consider this concept for other forms of publishing. Publications that facilitate thorough engagement with the content
Consider exercises to add the level of experience and emotion—a catalyst to learning

sample page

sample page

In his article, Books in the Age of the iPad, Craig Mod sketches a vibrant and enticing picture of a beneficial co-existence between printed and digital matter: “We will choose the best medium for our content. Should it be printed or digitized?” We might need to become more specific, at the same time we can also afford to be more exclusive.

The various devices (here with a particular focus on the iPad/tablet) not only support general reading but also inform new ways of thinking about reading and design all together. “We potentially gain edgier, riskier books in digital form, born from a lower barrier-to-entry to publish. New modes of storytelling. Less environmental impact. A rise in importance of editors. And a marked increase in the quality of things that do get printed.”

book and ipad

So what is to be lost? According to Craig: “We are losing the paperback book, disposable books that were printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity.” Good riddance, he says.

And how to find the right medium for your content? “Ask yourself, “Is your work disposable?” For me, in asking myself this, I only see one obvious ruleset: Formless Content goes digital. Definite Content gets divided between the iPad and printing.” This might be a little too simplistic, but let’s do look at the content. First, Craig divides content into formless (without well-defined form) and definite (with well-defined form) content. Generally he revives the equation that form has to follow content.


To be more specific: “Formless Content can be reflowed into different formats and not lose any intrinsic meaning. It’s content divorced from layout. Most novels and works of non-fiction are Formless. […] Content with form — Definite Content — is almost totally the opposite of Formless Content. Most texts composed with images, charts, graphs or poetry fall under this umbrella. It may be reflowable, but depending on how it’s reflowed, inherent meaning and quality of the text may shift.

In the context of the book as an object, the key difference between Formless and Definite Content is the interaction between the content and the page. Formless Content doesn’t see the page or its boundaries. Whereas Definite Content is not only aware of the page, but embraces it. It edits, shifts and resizes itself to fit the page. In a sense, Definite Content approaches the page as a canvas — something with dimensions and limitations — and leverages these attributes to both elevate the object and the content to a more complete whole. Put very simply, Formless Content is unaware of the container. Definite Content embraces the container as a canvas. Formless content is usually only text. Definite content usually has some visual elements along with text.”

"The true value of an object lies in what it says, not its mere existence. And in the case of a book, that value is intrinsically connected with content."

“The true value of an object lies in what it says, not its mere existence. And in the case of a book, that value is intrinsically connected with content.”

“Unlike computer screens, the experience of reading on a Kindle or iPhone (or iPad, one can assume) mimics this familiar maternal embrace. The text is closer to us, the orientation more comfortable. And the seemingly insignificant fact that we touch the text actually plays a very key role in furthering the intimacy of the experience.”

There is intimacy and emotion and then there is device specificity: He urges us to think of various media specifically and not merely transfer an experience to another medium. It might not work or be counterproductive to the actual potential of each device: “Take something as fundamental as pages, for example. The metaphor of flipping pages already feels boring and forced on the iPhone. I suspect it will feel even more so on the iPad. The flow of content no longer has to be chunked into ‘page’ sized bites. One simplistic re-imagining of book layout would be to place chapters on the horizontal plane with content on a fluid vertical plane. In printed books, the two-page spread was our canvas. It’s easy to think similarly about the iPad. Let’s not. The canvas of the iPad must be considered in a way that acknowledge the physical boundaries of the device, while also embracing the effective limitlessness of space just beyond those edges.”

For the full article go here.
Consider your content
Consider the medium

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

“The Open Structures project explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. It initiates a kind of collaborative meccano to which everybody can contribute parts, components and structures.”

modular cuisine, a grid provides

modular cuisine, a grid provides

“Can we design hardware like we design software?” is the guiding questions driving the developments of OpenStructures.

All OpenStructures should be conceived as interdependent, dynamic puzzles.
This means that they should be designed for disassembly and according to the same dimensional framework (the OS grid).

There are a few principles guiding the project. Design for disassembly: Favor assembly techniques that allow deconstruction without damage or loss in order to facilitate the re-use of components. Design with recyclable materials: Favor, whenever possible, 100% synthetical or biological recyclable materials for your parts and components in order to support infinite material cycles. (after disassembly). Design from the OS grid: Use the OS grid as a design tool when choosing dimensions, assembly points or interconnecting diameters
in order to make your parts compatible with those of others.

Let’s look at Open Structures from a dynamic publishing perspective. There is rule-based design supported by a very flexible grid. With the pre-condition that the modules are self-standing, distinguishable yet interdependent. And they can be connected in various fashions to create new structures, systems, or stories.

What would be the parts and components in writing? Quotes, ideas, arguments, problems, facts, visualizations, lists, etc.? What would happen if writing started from a grid? Along with a set of rules to guide the writing process, and the goal to create components and parts that can be assembled in multiple ways creating new meanings and new stories? A first attempt to answer the three rules above in terms of publishing (this will need to be revised!): 1 write in short and concise form, that is self-standing yet allows for connection. 2 write sustainable—creating material that allows for further use and application 3 Use a grid or a platform to start your writing. That would be writing keeping its modular capacity in mind.

A bit like dance, too. How dances are created, how they are taught and altered. They are copied, mashed up techniques and choreographies, routines, steps, and translated emotions etc. In other words: a vibrant mixture of rules, parts, components and structures. The grid (perhaps the dance floor) to bring it all together and to bring it to live.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

open structures

open structures


“The design principles established through the history of Print Design are also true for Interaction. In our exploration of the differences, we’ve forgotten how much they are the same. They are both about clarity in communication and simplicity through systems. I believe we can learn from Print Design and apply to Interactive experiences:

1. Hierarchy and Structure with Grids

2. Confident use of Negative space

3. Reduction of Elements

4. Objectivity through Imagery

5. Emphasis on Typography

6. Proportion and Pacing

7. Universal Iconography”

— — —

also interesting: http://backbooks.wordpress.com/about-2/

experiments in writing

experiments in writing

View the PDF.

“Outer limits: Forget everything we know and love about physical magazines. Forget their length. Forget their size. Forget their weekly or monthly publishing schedule. Forget all these qualities except for one: What it’s like to come to an end, and to take a deep breath.

What does a bookend — an edge — mean for narrative arc? Broadly, it helps define the shape of the arc. The experience of a bundle of content changes depending on how it’s packaged.

Storify exemplifies this: By bookending a cohort of tweets, you remove them from the firehose and create a coherent, consumable narrative.

In other words: It’s difficult to shape a narrative without a pause, just as it’s hard to craft a beautiful page without whitespace. Possible, but unlikely.”
—Craig Mod

https://storify.com/And one nice example by Gary Stager.


the ur-expanded book from 1991 with sound annotations

the ur-expanded book from 1991 with sound annotations

From Wikipedia:

“The Expanded Books Project was an undertaking at The Voyager Company during 1991, that investigated ideas on how a book could be presented on a computer screen in a way that would be both familiar and useful to regular book readers. A lot of time was spent thinking about font choice, font size, line spacing, margin notes, book marks, and so on.

Much of the original impetus for the project, however, dated back a year earlier to a small meeting on digital books that Voyager sponsored on Bloomsday, 1990, attended by various pioneering multimedia and hypertext experts. At this meeting, the consensus emerged that, to overcome the relative inconvenience of being tied to a low-resolution and cumbersome digital display, digital books would have to offer “added value.” When Voyager developed the Expanded Books, it took this advice to heart.

The actual programming for the initial products happened over a relatively short period, between October and December 1991, with the first three book titles being released at MacWorld San Francisco, January 1992. Those first titles were The Complete Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the GalaxyThe Complete Annotated Alice, and Jurassic Park. These books and their successors relied upon a “book engine” that provided a simple but powerful feature set: various convenient and simple search methods, the ability to switch between large print and normal print versions, various unobtrusive navigation tools (such as, for example, a chapter menu that dropped down from the chapter heading on each “page”), a margin area on each page in which readers could write notes, and, of course, interactive annotations. For example, Jurassic Park featured dinosaur illustrations that included dinosaur sounds based upon descriptions in the text; The Annotated Alice provided pop-up annotations derived from both editions [a comparative feature that is also used in Scrivener a digital writing tool for authors] of Martin Gardner’s work.

The product range was not definitely to be called “Expanded Books”. One other favored contender was “Power Books”, but that idea died when Voyager was told that the about-to-be-released notebooks from Apple were to be called PowerBooks. Hence the original project name became the product name.

Between February 1992 and August 1992, Voyager created The Expanded Books Toolkit, which allowed authors to create their own Expanded Books. Voyager themselves went on to produce over 60 books as Expanded Books, and the underlying software was also used in CD-ROMs such as A Hard Day’s Night, Salt of the Earth, and Macbeth.

All programming for the Expanded Books and Toolkit was in HyperCard, with the exception of a few XCMDs and strings stored as resources.”

Found in Bones of the Book:

“In late 1990, Stein turned his thinking to e-books, and how to sell them. Using the Criterion model, he founded Voyager Expanded Books. The business transposed popular titles like Jurassic Park and tech-niche darlings like Neuromancer onto diskettes and CD-Roms. In many ways, these books resembled modern e-books: they were searchable, annotatable, and featured variable typeface sizes. Like current enhanced e-books, they even contained interactive multimedia elements. In Jurassic Park, for instance, the illustrated dinosaurs could roar, growl, and squeak. Unfortunately, it took about three seconds to turn the page.

Progressive and well intentioned as Stein was, nearly all of the missteps that e-book publishers have made and continue to make can be traced back to Voyager. Stein revolutionized home movies by making them more like books, but crippled books by trying to make them more like DVDs. Take the way Larsen envisioned the future of books, stuffed with “extras”: trailers, commentary, and deleted scenes. Stein’s impulse was always to add, rather than to adapt. The e-book is still trying to extricate itself from that legacy.”

building a readership, building a community—monthly or weekly installments of one bigger body of work

building a readership, building a community—monthly or weekly installments of one bigger body of work. here truman capote’s breakfast at tiffany’s

“By them time he and Jack returned to New York in October of 1958, Random House had published Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Esquire, in its November issue, had serialized the novel in full.”
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson

Taken from Wikipedia: “In literature, a serial is a publishing format by which a single large work, most often a work of narrative fiction, is presented in contiguous (typically chronological) installments—also known as numbers, parts, or fascicles—either issued as separate publications or appearing in sequential issues of a single periodical publication. More generally, serial is applied in library and information science to materials “in any medium issued under the same title in a succession of discrete parts, usually numbered (or dated) and appearing at regular or irregular intervals with no predetermined conclusion.”

They are also referred to as web fiction or feuilleton.

More on the serialization of literature here.


how to read this book

I took the description of how to navigate through this book experience from the book’s website.

  1. Navigation. The top row lists the chapters in the book. You can choose your chapter (there are nine of them) by title. The second row lists the number of ‘pages’ in the chapter. There are 25 page cards, divided into sets of five. Clicking on a button in the second row will take you to that set. Some chapters have figures. The figure link appears at the end of the second row and pops up a new window.
  2. Link into the past. These links show the corresponding pages (as much as possible) to the original GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1 version. Sometimes things have changed, sometimes they stay the same. Explore and find out!
  3. The page cards. Oh novelty. You can click on a card to bring it to the front. The comments associated with that card will appear on the right (E). The number in the corner is the page title (it is also the paragraph number in the book. Yes, Ken writes in numbered paragraphs)
  4. The title is also a permalink. If you think that this particular paragraph is worth sharing, you can click on the title and copy out the link that appears in the top. Send that to your friends and they’ll be able to get right to your favorite parts.
  5. The comments on a particular page card. You can leave a comment on the card, in which case you use the “Leave a new comment” link, or you can resopnd to a comment that has already been made, using the “Reply to comment” that appears below each comment. Discussion will accumulate. Luckily, you can scroll.
  6. This is a short list of the most recent comments/discussion in the forum. You can click on of the titles to go right to that topic, or use the Go To Forum link to check out the full discussion from the top.
  7. Search it. More comprehensive than a book index. Faster too.
  8. More navigation: flip through the pages using these arrows. You can start at page 1 and go all the way to the end if you want. Or you can start at page 225 and read it backwards. We’re flexible.
  9. The running footer. A leftover convention from book design, we’ve added a link to that glorious networked bookk, Wikipedia. Find out more about the games, or if you’re feeling ambitious, write more about them. Because you can do that.
  10. The footer. Links to the FAQ, about the author, and to the page where you can subscribe to the feed (if you prefer a feed reader to this interface). Also, on the right, a way to contact us, find out more about the Institute for the Future of the Book, and the Creative Commons License.
  • Notes! We’ve included all the endnotes (which included some of the comments from GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1). Keep your eye out for the small asterisks. Find one and click to get a pop up with all the notes for that card.
the book broken up into a stack of cards. each one can be commented on the write. this seemed an important feature to improve and change from version 1 to the current.

the book broken up into a stack of cards. each one can be commented on the right margin. this seemed an important feature to improve and change from version 1 to the current.

the table of content to this book—an exploration in form or a book turned into a website

the table of content to this book—an experimentation in form or a book turned into a website

This has become a common feature in digital publishing to explain how to navigate through the book and find orientation. Another example for a tablet Magazine can be found in this post.

Also Gamer Theory very much reminds me of the set of the Debord’s Society of the Spectacle.

I came across more examples of how-tos and a nice critique by Craig Mod (below).



“To worsen matters, the navigation was confusing — each application a little different. The clarity of physical magazine usability — ‘just keep swiping’ — was lost in an effort to ‘innovate on’ and shoe-horn print workflows into a digital box. The apps just didn’t work.” — Craig Mod

More on that phenomena here and here.

one of the recent phenomena: how to read this project

one of the recent phenomena: a how-to-read-this-project precedes the actual writing

The Holy Of Holies Project
“The paper is also an experiment. The Institute for the Future of the Book has devised a new format, through which readers can engage with me and with each other, directly alongside the text. This site is a rough prototype. Each of the paper’s twelve sections has a dynamic margin to the right of the text. There, you can post responses to individual paragraphs, and also annotate the text with links and references to related materials.”

sample page of the reading and interaction experience

sample page of the reading and interaction experience

This project reminds me of how musicians and sample-crafters use for example Soundcloud to get feedback on their current productions:

you get the idea

you get the idea


A virtual book club, reading the Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, with a thorough conversation in the margins. Since the readers who were invited to comment were very committed and competent this could serve as a dynamic and very personal kind of cliff notes (which is now also available online).


When looking for the future of publishing, look for concepts (sideways):
“Gangnam Style is being remixed and appropriated all over the planet. Reminds me of a wonderful recent piece by Tod Machover in which he talks about his daughter and her friends remixing as the principal way of sharing things they love. Visions of the future.
Here are three of my favorites.”blogpost


oblique gone opaque. oracles seem to work in any kind of media

oblique gone opaque. oracles seem to work in any kind of media

Opaque Strategies used to be oblique. It used to be sold as a box of cards (unbound), now it is located on one website (nothing gets lost). It was originally created and continuously revised by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt (1975-1979).

The semi instructive nature of this project allows for tiny components. The algorithm provides serendipity.

screenshot of the timeline memory project

screenshot of the timeline memory project


The previous post shows Jonathan Monk’s Billboard Book Project, a project published through Three Star Books. This led to a further investigation of their practice…

MEN AND WOMEN COMMONLY DRESS ALIKE by A. KNOWLES & R. TIRAVANIJA / Published March 2011 / Edition of 10 copies with 4 artists’ proofs and 6 copies hors commerce / All copies are signed and numbered by the artists / Work description: Format: 73,5 x 155 cm - 28.9 x 61 in. / Digital printing on canvas, bamboo / Computer programming: Adrian Peter Orion Lauf

MEN AND WOMEN COMMONLY DRESS ALIKE by A. KNOWLES & R. TIRAVANIJA / Published March 2011 / Edition of 10 copies with 4 artists’ proofs and 6 copies hors commerce / All copies are signed and numbered by the artists / Work description: Format: 73,5 x 155 cm – 28.9 x 61 in. / Digital printing on canvas, bamboo / Computer programming: Adrian Peter Orion Lauf

“Founded in 2007, Three Star Books is the creation of Christophe Boutin, Cornelia Lauf and Mélanie Scarciglia. The company is based in Paris, with a desk in Rome. […]

Three Star Books produces artisanal book editions by the finest contemporary artists. The term “book” is interpreted loosely, as the final product often exceeds the physical and conceptual parameters of publishing. Editions have included aluminum sculpture, wooden reliefs, glitter paintings, and other outgrowths of a given publication.

The trademark of Three Star Books is finely crafted, hand- made (or manually modified) objects–globally sourced. Each title closely follows the indications of the artist, elaborated in close discussion with the partners. Inspired by the legacy of the Parisian livre d’artiste, in a virtual age where most publishing is obsolete, Three Star Books aims to render significant subjects in significant forms.”

More examples:
Love Letters (wool, yarn, 2013) takes an original Mayakovsky drawing and features several failed attempts to assign Cyrillic letters or graphemes to sounds or phonemes (from Polish to Abkhaz, Moldovan to Tajik) that did not previously exist in a Cyrillic alphabet.

Published June 2013 / Edition of 3 copies / Each carpet is accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate / Format: 250 x 250 cm / Wool, yarn

Published June 2013 / Edition of 3 copies / Each carpet is accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate / Format: 250 x 250 cm / Wool, yarn

Taken from the language usurped by Twitter, the title for Ryan Gander’s I’M TRENDING is prescribed to the way in which multiplied uses of a word, idea or concept grow in popularity based on the nature of repetitive use. By the artist’s account, this project is viewed as a collision between the book and an artwork; what happens when various forms coalesce?

Published June 2012 / Edition of 10 copies / with 3 artist's proofs / Each copy is accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate / Work description: Fourteen pairs of resin casts hosted in cardboard and fabric slipcases Casts realized in resin, painted in fluorescent colors and coated with UV paint Slipcases: Reliure du Centre, Limoges/Paris

Published June 2012 / Edition of 10 copies / with 3 artist’s proofs / Each copy is accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate / Work description: Fourteen pairs of resin casts hosted in cardboard and fabric slipcases Casts realized in resin, painted in fluorescent colors and coated with UV paint Slipcases: Reliure du Centre, Limoges/Paris

STAB/GHOST, is a a translucent book composed of clear plastic (PVC) pages, silkscreened with patterns, sewn with lanyards of plastic thread, and mounted on a specially designed light table. True to her interest in complex geometries and color theory, the book also functions as a light sculpture.

Published Summer 2013 / Edition of 10 copies with 3 artist's proofs / Book description: Format: 30 x 40 x 2,5 cm, 11.81 x 15.74 x 1.18 inches / 100 sheets of 250 microns Lexan / 4 color silkscreen / PVC stab binding / Clear plexiglas wave / Light Box Table: Wood / ROSCO LED panels / Clear plexiglas hood

Published Summer 2013 / Edition of 10 copies with 3 artist’s proofs / Book description: Format: 30 x 40 x 2,5 cm, 11.81 x 15.74 x 1.18 inches / 100 sheets of 250 microns Lexan / 4 color silkscreen / PVC stab binding / Clear plexiglas wave / Light Box Table: Wood / ROSCO LED panels / Clear plexiglas hood

When asked to design a publication, Rehberger chose to make the kind of stand-up publication that the smallest of children play with. The rigid and yet loose “pages” of Holy Silence are constructed so as to fit something like the elements in Charles and Ray Eames’ 1952 House of Cards, a toy that is also a piece of complex engineering.

Published Spring 2008 / Edition of 6 copies with 4 artist's proofs / Each edition is signed by the artist / Book description: Formats: 87 x 59 x 10 cm - 34.3 x 23.2 x 3.9 in. closed (approx.) / 180 cm - 70.8 in. open (approx.) / 11 plates of different laser-cut materials

Published Spring 2008 / Edition of 6 copies with 4 artist’s proofs / Each edition is signed by the artist / Book description: Formats: 87 x 59 x 10 cm – 34.3 x 23.2 x 3.9 in. closed (approx.) / 180 cm – 70.8 in. open (approx.) / 11 plates of different laser-cut materials

billboard in full size

billboard in full size

“In version three of his Billboard book series, British artist Jonathan Monk sets out with British designers OK-RM to design, well, a very British-looking publication. All the more so because conventions of paper-folding and book-binding (adapted through an ingenious scheme of the designers), have been itemized — with the measurement “Royal” as a guide. […] And the result is…Italian? In the wink of an eye, the great bookmakers of fifteenth century Venice call out to us, as OK-RM have chosen to turn individual versions of the billboard into books of diminishing shapes so that each billboard is offered in ever smaller classic book form. If you stack all the books on top of each other, in a kind of Origami way, the thing that emerges is nothing so much as a Fibonacci rhythm.”

billboard broken down into 5 smaller sizes

billboard broken down into 5 smaller sizes

Published Autumn 2012
Edition of 5 copies per format
with 3 artist’s proofs (for each format)
and 3 copies hors commerce
All copies are numbered and signed by the artist.

Each book is accompanied by the twenty royal sheets which compose the billboard.

Book description:
Concept: Jonathan MonkDesign: OK-RMColophon photograph: Daniel AlexanderFormats:508 × 317 mm – 80 pages317 × 254 mm – 160 pages254 × 158 mm – 320 pages158 × 127 mm – 640 pages127 × 79 mm – 1280 pages

Printing: Cassachrome, Belgium Formats:
508 × 317 mm – 20 x 12.5 in. 80 pages
317 × 254 mm – 12.5 x 10 in. 160 pages
254 × 158 mm – 10 x 6.2 in. 320 pages
158 × 127 mm – 6.2 x 5 in. 640 pages
127 × 79 mm – 5 x 3.1 in. 1280 pages

Printing: Cassochrome, Belgium
Photography: Daniel Alexander

evocative, epistemic, liminal objects... things we think with

evocative, epistemic, liminal objects… things we think with

Evocative Objects is a beautiful and thought-provoking compilation of objects’ biographies that invite the reader to reflect, for example, on the meaning of knot-tying, naturalization of objects, transition, memory, constructed knowledge or our cyborg presence and future. I use this as an example for a publication that breaks down the book into compact components that can be separated and rearranged (not physically though). The conceptual flexibility makes this book pro-active, and somewhat unbound.

theory (epigraph on the left) + object (personal essay on the right) allow for  fresh readings, associations and juxtaposition

theory (epigraph on the left) + object (personal essay on the right) allow for fresh readings, associations and juxtaposition

The structure and concept of this book project.
A recipe:

Evocative Objects
—1 Introduction by author
—Main Body divided into 6 parts (Objects of…, see image below)
—5-6 stories in each part
—Each story is composed of 1 epigraph (=theoretical extract) + 1 object (= Short commissioned essays on the personal relationship to an object)
Epigraphs and objects are paired to provide a specific focus, reading and association.
—1 Concluding essay by author

Sherry Turkle takes on the role of a curator with a clear concept of what aspects of evocative objects to include and how to contextualize them. In her concluding essay, she stresses that many of the individual voices have to be read in relation to other contributions. Everything in this book is short, concise, poignant and manageable. Her particular pairing yields at a specific focus of how to ‘read’ the essay and this can be interchanged at any point: “[…] I encourage the readers to create their own associations, to combine and recombine objects and theories—most generally, to use objects to bring philosophy down to earth.” In my mind it could have worked as an exhibition—the physical/digital object in the center and then left and right from it the essay and its theoretic pair.

the table of content shows the six parts of the book and its bracket of an introduction and concluding essay by the author

the table of content shows the six parts of the book that is bracketed with an introduction and concluding essay by the author

A similar example is 39 Microlectures: A Proximity of Performance by Matthew Goulish. A book one could also split up onto cards and re-mix them any time you want to engage with it.

miranda july's film the future was accompanied by an oracle initiative. if signed up one get's his/her future once a week in the mail box. it just keeps on coming.

miranda july’s film the future was accompanied by an oracle initiative. if signed up one get’s his/her future once a week in the mail box. it just keeps on coming.

As a promotional tool for Miranda July‘s second film, The Future she invited her audience to sign up for a personal bi-weekly future outlook. Once signed up you would receive a cryptic message (part advice, part cautionary call for action) via email. Here is an example: “The Future: You are insulting yourself in ways I find insulting. Insult a hat like that and I promise the hat will cry. Today you stop. good luck, Miranda”, accompanied with a disclaimer: “When you feel that you are ready to face the future alone, unsubscribe by clicking here.” I still receive them to this day.

Just recently she launched the project We Think Alone. Same procedure: You sign up with your email address and then you’ll receive a weekly digest of private mails shared by famous people. Nine fellow artists, writers, theoreticians and actors have committed to share with Miranda personal email exchanges. She then compiles them under themes and distributes the piece to her subscribers. Themes thus far: Email about money, Email that contains an advice, Emails that have Obama in them. Lyrical, at times insightful and nicely assembled. A future of creative writing and publishing? It certainly raised the value of getting mail.

miranda july's latest neo mail art project

miranda july’s latest neo mail art project

We Think Alone reminds me of an older artistic strategy of hers: Joanie 4 Jackie, an all girl video chain letter, where she invited young female video artists to share their videos with her that she would then arrange and distribute among subscribers as frequent special compilations.

extract from email-piece on advice

extract from email-piece on advice, wethinkalone.com

from the vaults of my screen shot collection

from the vaults of my screen shot collection

This syllabus is from Rita Raley, 2012. A beautiful resource and contemplation on the past,present and future of the book:

April 11: Bookishness
April 18: Artists’ Books
April 25: New approaches to page space
May 2: Bookwork
May 9: What are books?
May 15: Page to screen [note new date and time, Tuesday, 5:00pm]
May 23: Attention and distraction
May 30: How we read now
June 6: Networked books

doug boube, paris (1994), altered book

doug boube, paris (1994), altered book

william drendel, the starr report: beat yourself up, amercia! (1998), paper, dyed oak; laser printed

william drendel, the starr report: beat yourself up, amercia! (1998), paper, dyed oak; laser printed

letter play on page, here a canvas

letter play on page, here a canvas

typo shark

typo shark

art book technique gone to the general book store. a book you cannot read by j.s. froer

cut-out technique gone mainstream: a book you cannot read by j.s. froer

“We print and bind books on demand, creating original work with artists and writers we admire. We use any means possible to help writers and artists reach a public: physical books; a digital commons (where anyone can read and annotate our books for free); eBooks; and unique social events with our writers and artists in many cities. We attend to the social life of the book. Publication Studio is a laboratory for publication in its fullest sense—not just the production of books, but the production of a public. This public, which is more than a market, is created through physical production, digital circulation, and social gathering. Together these construct a space of conversation, a public space, which beckons a public into being.”

They have satellite studios across the US and Sweden.

publication studio

publication studio

Heroic Real Estate Otter of the 21st Century
“Heroic Real Estate Otter of the 21st Century is the latest collective novel from Brendan Howell’s exquisite_code project. The book was written by seven writers at Inspace on the 2nd November 2012. The process delegated by a brutalist-brut software edit machine, known as The Maggot.

The Maggot is a bastard editor. It is a software worm that ruthlessly delegates and mediates the work of a group of writers, simultaneously composing a collective text. This book is the the chewed-up corpse of the corpus that arose, an endless paper record that piled up on the floor.” http://www.mediascot.org/

The outcome of this collaborative writing intervention can be purchased as print on demand. It reminds me heavily of Brion Gysin’s cut up technique gone automated and collective. Besides serendipitous lyrical formations (which are fun and refreshing) I wonder about the overall reading pleasure and if that is the point.

YourSlip Front YourSlip Back

From the Back Cover:
“It is his [the author’s] sincere hope that the general public will enjoy the same laughs that he has experienced collecting this material. Volume II of “Your Slip Is Showing” is now in the process of being compiled. Readers are invited to send material relating to “fluffs” that they have either made, heard or seen to:

Kermit Schafer
381 Fourth Avenue, New York 16, N.Y.

(The book came out approximately in 1957)

Boo-Hooray is an office, project space, gallery and transition room for some very delicate 20th century counter-culture publications in Manhattan, NYC. Founded in 2010 they publish catalogues, books, artists’ books and LPs regularly, as well as arrange readings, performances and exhibitions.

I came to see the only printed documentation (recently released by Boo-Hooray) of Barbara Rubin’s Christmas on Earth (1963), an experimental erotic outburst on two 16mm reels projected on top of each other. This film, like many others, is extremely vulnerable, the restoration and digitization costly, therefore only shown very rarely to limit exposure. Hands in white gloves I flipped through Rubin’s super-imposed, day-glow vision on printed matter.

still from Christmas on Earth

still from Christmas on Earth

This is part of what Boo-Hooray do: excavating private archives from attics, storage places and basements, documenting them digitally and on occasion producing a publication to exhibit what would otherwise remain invisible. Most of their digitized inventory has been placed with academic institutions such as Yale University (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library), Cornell University (Division of Rare Manuscript Collections) and Oxford University (Bodleian Library). Where they will be made available to everybody (online library) even if you are not enrolled, according to Boo. Continue Reading…


The institute for the future of the book is a think-and-do tank investigating the evolution of intellectual discourse as it shifts from printed pages to networked screens. They seek to “chronicle this shift, and impact its development in a positive direction,” aiming to combine media to forge new forms of expression.  They have investigative and exploratory branches in New York, London and Brisbane.

“One major consequence of the shift to digital is the addition of graphical, audio, and video elements to the written word. More profound, however, is the book’s reinvention in a networked environment. Unlike the printed book, the networked book is not bound by time or space. It is an evolving entity within an ecology of readers, authors and texts. Unlike the printed book, the networked book is never finished: it is always a work in progress.

As such, the Institute is deeply concerned with the surrounding forces that will shape the network environment and the conditions of culture: network neutrality, copyright and privacy. We believe that a free, neutral network, a progressive intellectual property system, and robust safeguards for privacy are essential conditions for an enlightened digital age.”

And then there is tools. Again. In order to make the noble mission a potential success tools are being called for (same is true for the digital-publishing initiative in the Netherlands). Tools that are easy and intuitively to use for ordinary people, guaranteeing independence from programmers yet relying on the limitations of the software which will shape new literacies, habits and behavior and other limitations. All aim to develop something that is sustainable. Interesting that within an unstable medium we seek certainty…

“Academic institutes arose in the age of print, which informed the structure and rhythm of their work. The Institute for the Future of the Book was born in the digital era, and so we seek to conduct our work in ways appropriate to the emerging modes of communication and rhythms of the networked world. Freed from the traditional print publishing cycles and hierarchies of authority, the Institute values theory and practice equally, conducting its activities as much as possible in the open and in real time.”

Huber Fichte Cover

a recognizable design concept for hubert fichte’s lyrical works published by fischer verlag

Covers are an essential part of selling content in bookstores. It can even become and art in itself. Covers to identify with. Covers to recognize (50 shades of grey in airports). Covers as limited editions, covers for design awards, covers to mark series (Hubert Fichte). Signature covers of publishing houses (Merve). Very often the covers of the same book vary in different countries (Ghana must go, Taiye Selasi).

Let’s look at the music. The square cases for LPs are canvases for designers to communicate, visualize, and generate appetite for what was in it. Not that vinyl ever left the market, recently they’re back to selling as significant object to display, even to those who abandoned the respective playing device. If you buy the vinyl you’ll receive a code to download the mp3s for your digital devices.

Let’s stay with the music. Let’s stay with the square. Even in the digital realm, the image remains and so does the shape. You can find the square in various sizes across platforms: Soundcloud, iTunes, bandcamp.com, etc. And because in many cases the square is very small, the design has to adapt to the scale and still look enticing.

Covers disappear in some academic journals all together. And the same can be true if you download the pdf file of a book. If you use Calibre as your home library software you can retrieve the former cover (usually various versions to choose from) to complete your ‘book’.

What is a book without its cover? And how does the file do with just a few letters behind the dot (.doc, .pdf, .jpg, etc.)? Do we need visual representation and distinction? In recent digital transformations, I saw the cover turn into an opening page or a trailer.

Consider visual representation
Consider images, icons, logos
Consider signature shapes
Consider size