Tuesday, December 12, 2006

if:books creates the perfect "future of the book" course project

On the if:book blog today, director Ben Vershbow posts this provacative question: how would you design the iraq study group report for the web?

How would you design an unauthorized web edition of the ISG Report? Would you keep to the sober, no-nonsense aesthetic of the iconic print editions of past government documents like the 9/11 Commission Report or the Warren Commission Report? Or would you shake things up? What functionality would you add? What kind of discussion capabilities would you like to build into it? Who would you most like to see annotate or publicly comment on the document?

The electronic edition that has been making the rounds is an austere PDF made available by the United States Institute of Peace. A far more useful resource for close reading of the text was put out by Vivismo as a demonstration of its new Velocity Search Engine. They crawled the PDF and broke it into individual paragraphs, adding powerful clustered search tools.

The US Government Printing Office has a slew of public documents available on its website, mostly as PDFs or bare-bones HTML pages. How should texts of "national import" be reconceived for the network?

Yes, indeed. What a great question. Into the course it goes...

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