Book as API (Hugh McGuire)

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As books move to digital, we need to think beyond "words under glass" for ebooks. Alistair and I propose something more exiting: books connected to the network and accessed by APIs, allowing new …

As books move to digital, we need to think beyond "words under glass" for ebooks. Alistair and I propose something more exiting: books connected to the network and accessed by APIs, allowing new interfaces & new thinking about what we should be able to do with books. This is the 2nd half of the Tools of Change workshop I did with Alistair Croll.

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  • 1. an API for books@hughmcguirepressbooks.com
  • 2. To Do List:1. start thinking of books as [stuff].2. think about how we make books 3. look at examples 4. wonder: is this easy or hard?
  • 3. What is a book?
  • 4. My definition:“A book is a discrete collection of text (and other media), that is designed by the author(s) as an internally complete representation of an idea, or set of ideas; emotion or set of emotions; and transmitted to readers in various formats.”
  • 5. What’s in a book?
  • 6. joy! pleasure! knowledge! characters! fictional people! real people! places! concepts! footnotes! references!lots and lots of other ...
  • 7. THINGS!(and: things that we can name).
  • 8. What is an API?
  • 9. Terry Jones’s Definition:“Just as a User Interface gives humans access to information, an API gives programs access to information.”
  • 10. What is a (book) API’s job?
  • 11. “To give other services the ability touse [the stuff] in your books, under defined circumstances.”
  • 12. An API is another mechanismby which a publisher can do its job, which is: “to make public” the contents of a book (under certain commercial arrangements)
  • 13. HOW:
  • 14. Start with your INDEX.
  • 15. What is an index’s job?
  • 16. Shakespeare’s Answer:“And in such indexes, although small pricks To their subsequent volumes, there is seen The baby figure of the giant mass Of things to come at large.” (Troilus and Cessida).
  • 17. What does a paper index look like?
  • 18. What does an ebook index look like?
  • 19. That there is a link!
  • 20. <a href="/chapter3/index-entry-78">Dracula</a><a href="/chapter4/index-entry-101">May 1, 1893</a><a href="/chapter1/index-entry-122">Munich</a><a href="/chapter9/index-entry-11">Murder</a><a href="/chapter10/index-entry-68">Succotash</a><a href="/chapter6/index-entry-99">Smith, Dr.</a><a href="/chapter16/index-entry-119">Sambuca</a><a href="/chapter15/index-entry-199">Vienna</a><a href="/chapter2/index-entry-666">Veins</a>
  • 21. Jonathan Harker’s Journal:3 May. Bistritz.Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May,arriving at Vienna early next morning ...thepost town named by Count Dracula, is afairly well-known place....
  • 22. Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1stMay, arriving at Vienna earlynext morning ... the post townnamed by Count Dracula, is afairly well-known place....
  • 23. Left <a id="index-entry-122">Munich</a>at 8:35 P.M., on <a id="index-entry-101">1st May</a>, arriving at <aid="index-entry-199">Vienna</a> earlynext morning... the post town named by<a id="index-entry-99">Count Dracula</a>, is a fairly well-known place...
  • 24. What does a smart index look like?
  • 25. Left <a id="index-entry-122"class=”place”>Munich</a> at 8:35 P.M.,on <a id="index-entry-101"class=”date”>1st May</a>, arriving at <aid="index-entry-199"class=”place”>Vienna</a> early nextmorning...the post town named by <aid="index-entry-99" class=”person”>CountDracula</a>, is a fairly well-knownplace...
  • 26. <a href="/chapter3/index-entry-78" class=”person”>Dracula</a><a href="/chapter4/index-entry-101" class=”date”>May 1, 1893</a><a href="/chapter1/index-entry-122" class=”place”>Munich</a><a href="/chapter9/index-entry-11" class=”cause-of-death”>Murder</a><a href="/chapter10/index-entry-68" class=”food”>Succotash</a><a href="/chapter6/index-entry-99" class=”person”>Smith, Dr.</a><a href="/chapter16/index-entry-119" class=”fooddrink”>Sambuca</a><a href="/chapter15/index-entry-199" class=”place”>Vienna</a><a href="/chapter2/index-entry-666" class=”body-part”>Veins</a>
  • 27. HEY!THAT’S AN API!THAT WAS EASY!
  • 28. What can we do with a book API?
  • 29. We can build different interfacesthat allow readers to engage in different ways.
  • 30. The Pulp interface.
  • 31. image: Gleann Ignacio
  • 32. The Bits interface.
  • 33. Image: Rebekah Ford
  • 34. The“what stuff is mentioned in this book” interface: Small Demons.
  • 35. The“who is reading this and what are they saying about it” interface: Readmill.
  • 36. The“Let’s explode this book and put it back together in a very cool way” interface: Dracula Dissected. bit.ly/draculadissected
  • 37. IS THIS HARD?
  • 38. Not if you use a good book-basedcontent management system. (like PressBooks!).
  • 39. Conclusions:
  • 40. 1.Books are made of stuff that can be named
  • 41. 2. If you name stuff in your HTML (while indexing!), then we can(easily) build new uses/interfaces for our books, such as Dracula Dissected.
  • 42. 3. <shameless_plug> If you use something like PressBooks to make your books,making Dracula Dissected becomes easy. </shameless_plug>
  • 43. So ... What is a book?
  • 44. My definition:“A book is a discrete collection of text (and other media), that is designed by the author(s) as an internally complete representation of an idea, or set of ideas; emotion or set of emotions... ... with an API.”
  • 45. Talk to me about dissecting your Dracula! hugh@pressbooks.com @hughmcguire http://pressbooks.com