Wednesday, 27 January 2010

You've been in the clouds. Welcome back...

... Cloud Computing. Here we go.

Keeping it in this same blog because this new project is so tied to my dissertation.

After weeks of diligent research *ahem* I've found myself here. This was written on Wednesday 27th Jan - Just before the iSlate/iPad/iTablet launch... keep watching folks...

My area of interest is entertainment - probably because of things discussed in the aforementioned dissertation.
I looked at music and how we started off with Napster and Limewire, illegal file sharing programmes which allowed users to pirate music files.
To combat this, the iTunes store was introduced - a legitimate service for buying and downloading music files. This was hugely successful - as most people didn't want to steal music - there was simply no service for them to purchase it legally.
Now we are seeing a move to services such as Spotify - where all the music is stored via cloud computing and no one needs to buy any music, so long as they can get access to the internet.
Books are a little newer to the digital world. While online newspapers and blogs are everywhere, only in the past few years have books made an appearance.
So how can we buy books online? There's Amazon, eBay, and other booksellers who will post you your physical copy of your title. Most titles, particularly older ones and second hand books are very reasonably priced, don't cost too much to post and arrive quickly. It's a great way to find rare or hard to get hold of books, such as ones out of print. Books can be dispatched worldwide.
Google Books, launched in October 2004, set out to scan thousands of books, for free perusal online. Of course, on lesser quality screens, the legibility of the text is limited. There is also a limited number of titles available, and sometimes only a limited amount of the text available. Most titles are those which have lapsed copyright or are considered to be "within the public domain".
The Amazon Kindle and it's store were launched in the US in 2007 (2009 in the rest of the world). While not the only ebook reader on the market, thus far it has the market share. However it's success has been underwhelming. Perhaps books don't quite translate to a digital screen in the same way that music does - music is aural and it doesn't matter the physical format. Books are tactile, text is tactile, and there needs to be an enjoyable format.
Something that is lost through the ebook is the status that comes with having a vast collection of books. You can't leave your kindle casually lying around, opened on a particularly hard book to impress your friends. Well... you can... but its a little less subtle than the ol' leave-em-on-the-coffee-table trick.
I'd like to keep the book physical. What do we do with all the books otherwise? Book Burning is a bit of a taboo...
The disappearance of the independent bookstore from our streets would break my heart. Theres nothing like going through those dusty shelves is there?! But we know that both music and book sales are down in shops - not just because of the digitalisation of media, but also the ease of online shopping.
Bookclubs haven't translated particularly well to the internet either.
And what about book exchanges? What happens to the serendipitous act of leaving a book you have read lying in a bus, train, station etc for the next reader to find - and you yourself picking up left books.
So I made some sketches looking at keeping the book physical, and using cloud computing to do this.

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