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Book as API (Hugh McGuire)

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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Book as API (Hugh McGuire)

  1. 1. an API for
  2. 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. 3. What is a book?
  4. 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. 5. What’s in a book?
  6. 6. joy! pleasure! knowledge! characters! fictional people! real people! places! concepts! footnotes! references!lots and lots of other ...
  7. 7. THINGS!(and: things that we can name).
  8. 8. What is an API?
  9. 9. Terry Jones’s Definition:“Just as a User Interface gives humans access to information, an API gives programs access to information.”
  10. 10. What is a (book) API’s job?
  11. 11. “To give other services the ability touse [the stuff] in your books, under defined circumstances.”
  12. 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. 13. HOW:
  14. 14. Start with your INDEX.
  15. 15. What is an index’s job?
  16. 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. 17. What does a paper index look like?
  18. 18. What does an ebook index look like?
  19. 19. That there is a link!
  20. 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. 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. 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. 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. 24. What does a smart index look like?
  25. 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. 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>
  28. 28. What can we do with a book API?
  29. 29. We can build different interfacesthat allow readers to engage in different ways.
  30. 30. The Pulp interface.
  31. 31. image: Gleann Ignacio
  32. 32. The Bits interface.
  33. 33. Image: Rebekah Ford
  34. 34. The“what stuff is mentioned in this book” interface: Small Demons.
  35. 35. The“who is reading this and what are they saying about it” interface: Readmill.
  36. 36. The“Let’s explode this book and put it back together in a very cool way” interface: Dracula Dissected.
  37. 37. IS THIS HARD?
  38. 38. Not if you use a good book-basedcontent management system. (like PressBooks!).
  39. 39. Conclusions:
  40. 40. 1.Books are made of stuff that can be named
  41. 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. 42. 3. <shameless_plug> If you use something like PressBooks to make your books,making Dracula Dissected becomes easy. </shameless_plug>
  43. 43. So ... What is a book?
  44. 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. 45. Talk to me about dissecting your Dracula! @hughmcguire