Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Future of reading unconference idea

I'm considering planning an unconference (as much as an unconference can be planned).

The topic (as of now): E-book readers and their place in society in the year 2010

The idea is to put the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, the ebookwise and the Illiad side by side and compare/contrast, then talk about how they affect reading and writing. Newsweek has said, "Though Bezos is reluctant to make the comparison, Amazon believes it has created the iPod of reading." I suggest we get together, look at these products, and publish a report on what we like about them, what we don't, and what we want to see in a future product. Let's shape the future.

I think the Read/Write group on Facebook would be interested in this, and the idea is to invite regional information professionals to by physically present, and then have a rich online component to the unconference.

Addendum: With limited time and resources, the goal here is to make this as easy as possible to put together. I am thinking that Tuesday, April 8 could be the designated day to end the unconference, with the understanding that a lot will happen between now and then. On April 8 I would like to have a physical meeting of people interested in getting their hands on one of the above mentioned four ebook readers. I'd like it to be a small group, say about 30 people. But then again, this is to be an unconference, so all can be changed as need be. :-)

So I guess I am wanting to host an unconference from now (January 17) until April 8. Some people might say that doesn't sound like an unconference at all- it sounds more like a 3 month conversation.

Please share your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

I think this would be an excellent idea. The ebook readers have generated lots of talk on my campus, not much of it positive. It makes me wonder if all the hype about ebook readers is centered in the cities or just a marketing ploy. The issues here? You can't share books, we have times of the day when books are allowed but electronic devices are not (we're military, remember), charging, and carrying another darned device. (This is MzLibrarian, by the way -- I've been having trouble posting blogger comments any way but anonymous.)

Linda Summers said...

Dynamic Librarian: I'd love to get with a group of bibliophiles to test the various e-readers. However, due to my skepticism over such issues as limited e-libraries (best sellers are seldom on my "must read" list) I hesitate (refuse, more like) to spend several hundred dollars out of simple curiosity. If you are able to obtain such devices, however, I would be most interested in participating in said unconference.

MzLibrarian: E-readers haven't generated much talk at all on my campus (NSU-Broken Arrow); however, e-books have; and I can honestly say not one of those comments has been positive. As for your statement "You can't share books," it also applies to interlibrary loan policies: you can loan/borrow a paper copy, but not an electronic one.

Dynamic Librarian said...

Quite to the point, Linda. Unless people are "early adopters" of ebook readers, they won't shell out the money for the pricey readers. My idea is to have a workshop where people can get their hands on the readers. We already have a Kindle and a Reader, and are now looking at getting an Illiad and an ebookwise device. That way we will have four products to compare/contrast. Thank you for your interest.

Sara said...

Great idea, Dynamic. But I see an underlying assumption here ... (or am imagining it) that ebook readers are for fiction / pleasure reading. For pleasure reading, I personally share Linda's skepticism about the e-book devices. But as a grad student looking at many, many articles every week, I have to confess that I now find any means possible to convert those articles into PDF so that I can use my trusty Acrobat Pro tools to highlight, note, bookmark and so on. I can't imagine doing my readings for class on paper anymore. Would this distinction between types of reading material be part of your Unconference Conversation? And would e-reading include laptops or only devices specifically for reading? Come to think of it, I've also done reading on my iPod whenever I listen to a podcast for learning Latin that includes the text in the description field.
I guess my question is ... do you want to set any sort of boundaries to this discussion? I think it's a great discussion to have, no matter how its structured. :-)

Dynamic Librarian said...

I don't want to put up any boundaries for the discussion- let the conversation flow how it will.

One thing I read about unconferences was that they try to channel the "hallway talk" that happens at conferences into the mainstream events.

Sometimes the "hallway talk" is the best content that people walk away with. I'm trying to figure out now how to best house/organize the online conversation that will occur with this. I'm thinking a wiki?

sarahesimpson said...

Sorry it took so long for me to respond - got lost in the shuffle. I think this is a great idea. I would love to take a look at the various devices. We tried the Rocket Readers when they came out - with no success. The Playaways are doing really well, but they're a little different. I think this is the way things will go, and I'd love to join your unconference!