The Virtual Codex from Page Space to E-space

“The idea of “the book” guiding design of e-books has been a commonplace, grotesquely reductive and unproductive. No single book exists, so no “idea” of “the” book could be produced in any case. The multiplicity of physical structures and graphic conventions are manifestations of activity, returned to book form as conventions because of their efficacy in guiding use. The notion of a metaphor applied to an element like a table of contents is highly misleading. This is not a metaphor at all, but a program, a set of instructions for performance. By looking to scholarly work for specific understanding of varieties of attitudes towards the book as literal space and a virtual e-space, and to artists and poets for evidence of the way the spaces of a book work, we realize that the traditional codex is also, in an important and suggestive way, already virtual. But also, that the format features of virtual spaces of e-space, electronic space, have yet to encode conventions of use within their graphical forms. As that happens, we will witness the conceptual form of virtual spaces for reading, writing, and exchange take shape in the formats that figure their functions in layout and design.” —Johanna Drucker

Open Structures // Grid, components, parts

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

the atom of the grid, infinitely expandable and versatile

“The Open Structures project explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. It initiates a kind of collaborative meccano to which everybody can contribute parts, components and structures.”

modular cuisine, a grid provides

modular cuisine, a grid provides

“Can we design hardware like we design software?” is the guiding questions driving the developments of OpenStructures.

All OpenStructures should be conceived as interdependent, dynamic puzzles.
This means that they should be designed for disassembly and according to the same dimensional framework (the OS grid).

There are a few principles guiding the project. Design for disassembly: Favor assembly techniques that allow deconstruction without damage or loss in order to facilitate the re-use of components. Design with recyclable materials: Favor, whenever possible, 100% synthetical or biological recyclable materials for your parts and components in order to support infinite material cycles. (after disassembly). Design from the OS grid: Use the OS grid as a design tool when choosing dimensions, assembly points or interconnecting diameters
in order to make your parts compatible with those of others.

Let’s look at Open Structures from a dynamic publishing perspective. There is rule-based design supported by a very flexible grid. With the pre-condition that the modules are self-standing, distinguishable yet interdependent. And they can be connected in various fashions to create new structures, systems, or stories.

What would be the parts and components in writing? Quotes, ideas, arguments, problems, facts, visualizations, lists, etc.? What would happen if writing started from a grid? Along with a set of rules to guide the writing process, and the goal to create components and parts that can be assembled in multiple ways creating new meanings and new stories? A first attempt to answer the three rules above in terms of publishing (this will need to be revised!): 1 write in short and concise form, that is self-standing yet allows for connection. 2 write sustainable—creating material that allows for further use and application 3 Use a grid or a platform to start your writing. That would be writing keeping its modular capacity in mind.

A bit like dance, too. How dances are created, how they are taught and altered. They are copied, mashed up techniques and choreographies, routines, steps, and translated emotions etc. In other words: a vibrant mixture of rules, parts, components and structures. The grid (perhaps the dance floor) to bring it all together and to bring it to live.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

closed modular system vs. open modular system, clearly.

open structures

open structures

Sophie and a new reading experience

Sophie is another experimental project by The Institute for the Future of the Book. It is a reading experience, that requires a reader, a tutorial, a software, a zip file and a manual.

taken from the manual (page 53)—the side-by-side is a reoccurring design element used int he projects of the institute

taken from the manual (page 53)—the side-by-side is a reoccurring design element used in the projects of the institute

This side-by-side could also become a tool for comparative reading (here reading books in pairs) or writing.

reading books in pairs or piles: e.g., about people who are involved in the same event, friends with shared experiences, same stories in different genres, similar stories from different cultures

reading books in pairs or piles: e.g., about people who are involved in the same event, friends with shared experiences, same stories in different genres, similar stories from different cultures


Consider juxtaposition (not only of comments/instruction next to the text, but also different versions put side by side, or entirely different content to force new associations
Consider comparison
Consider instructions

how-to-phenomena

I came across more examples of how-tos and a nice critique by Craig Mod (below).

howto

howto

“To worsen matters, the navigation was confusing — each application a little different. The clarity of physical magazine usability — ‘just keep swiping’ — was lost in an effort to ‘innovate on’ and shoe-horn print workflows into a digital box. The apps just didn’t work.” — Craig Mod

More on that phenomena here and here.