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eBook Querries

May 25, 2011

I’ve been doing some research on creating eBooks. My department has a grant to compile an electronic version of one of our core texts that is currently in the public domain. We want to create a dynamic interface that would allow students and faculty to annotate the texts and see each other’s glosses, as well as toying with ideas of a wikiality. Ultimately, it should be in a format available to all students and be free to use. I’ve also been informed a pony would be nice.

I had hoped that Flat World Knowledge could help. They are focussing on fully-editable, open textbooks. However, you need to start with one of their base texts and can’t start with your own manuscript (even if it’s in the public domain).

At the moment the best solution I can think of entails a custom install of WordPress with added enhancements. The actual text would occur as a series of static WordPress pages. The traditional blog component would allow, perhaps, for students or professors to note textual connections to current events. WPMU deve’sWiki plugin would cover the wiki issues, though I might go with a free or opensource alternative. But most importantly (to me, at least) would be Highlighter, a little plugin that allows folks to comment intext. People can even begin comment strings and have conversations on a particular line of text (perfect for our intended applications). I’d like to restrict intext commenting to the static pages, but I’m unsure if I can do this without making my life too complicated.

Ideally, I’d love to see a more portable dynamic format. The current technology seems to require that we use a website to correlate student work and interactivity. While this allows those with an iPad to still the view the text as a “book,” the experience won’t be much different than reading a blog for most students. I’d love to bring this kind of functionality to a truly portable format (Sony eReader, Kindle, etc.), but the technology doesn’t seem to be there.

I hope to post on this as the project comes together, but I’ve got ask: does anyone have any better suggestions on a format?

One Comment
  1. May 26, 2011 6:00 pm

    Highlighter looks really interesting, a better version of what was supposed to be. Do you know anyone who is using it so I can see how it works?

    I hope you continue to blog about this project as such interactive texts really interest me!

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