James Governor's Monkchips

The Kindle as Illuminated Manuscript. The Read/Write eBook Arrives, not a moment too soon

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I wrote a post a while ago – Reading is Writing: Illuminating The Digital Manuscript – that argued the role of annotation can be as important as primary content when it comes to reading, learning, and knowledge. Celebrate marginalia!

I believe this is the future of digital publishing. Learn from open source. The idea of content lock down just makes no sense. Paper books don’t have DRM. You can share them, write on them, cut bits out for your scrapbook and so on. But imagine if you could do all that digitally…

Why shouldn’t books be a little more like Wikipedia and a bit less like a copy-protected CD?

It might seem like the editable, annotatable, shareable book is a pirate’s charter, but publishers have little choice but to adapt.

It seems the adaptation is happening right now. This morning I came across this Steven B Johnson piece in the New York Times about the latest Amazon Kindle functionality, with its new “popular highlights” function. Users will be able to annotate the lines in a book they find most interesting. The idea of the book group just took a hit of crack. The world can now share thoughts on a manuscript. The opportunities for a social networking play should not be underestimated. If Amazon becomes a de facto standard location to annotate the written word, imagine the implications for universities, businesses and everybody. I see this as a big deal. Big enough that I now want a Kindle…  Where’s that Kindle for Android app, anyway?



  1. […] while reading Redmonk’s post on The Illuminated Manuscript, it occurred to me that contextual awareness is a necessity for book readers. […]

  2. Great comments I see one issue. While one only needs to look at the popularity of book clubs to see that people have always found away to express what a book means to them. However without filtering, opinions eventually will overwhelm the source material. There is a key difference between Tom Sawyer and Wikipedia. Wikipedia is intended to be a collection of facts and an analysis of Tom Sawyer is not. As we annotate literature and other works of art with our opinons, the wikipedia approach of fact check filtering does not work. We need contextual awareness

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