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July 01, 2007

The future of the book

photo of Manolis Kelaidis' blueBook

From several accounts, the high point of the recent Tools of Change Publishing conference (an O'Reilly conference devoted to exploring the future of print, books, publishing, knowledge organization and the like) was designer Manolis Kelaidis' demonstration of blueBook.

blueBook is an old-school traditional paper book, but printed with electrically conductive ink. Touch a word or picture and your finger completes a circuit, sending a message to a tiny circuit board in the book's cover, which then transmits a message via Bluetooth to your nearby computer. Voila!, additional information about the selected text or image appears.

Kelaidis' elegant demo earned him a standing ovation at the conference (when was the last time you saw someone get a standing O at a tech conference?) and I can understand why. For far too long there's been this "paper or plastic" type of debate about the future direction of publishing, pitting those who are convinced that everything we read should be on some sort of uber-sophisticated electronic device against those who scoff at such ideas and sing the romantic and economic glories of traditional paper books.

Kelaidis showed this group of movers and shakers that hybrid solutions are not only technically possible, they may be the best way to go. There's a nice write-up of the demo on the Institute for the Future of the Book's if:book blog.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at July 1, 2007 10:48 AM


this is the only other standing ovation tech presentation I've heard of:

a few months ago at the TED conference. And it does seem to have deserved it too.

Posted by: along at July 6, 2007 01:53 PM