The exquisite artfulness of new business design

Peter Jones Innovation, Wu Wei

I’m holding a physical copy of most the inspiring, wonderfully visual and tactile business book ever written and produced. Because this self-published book was designed, not so much edited, the end result is both visual spectacular and readily understandable. Business Model Generation, by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, and designed by Toronto’s own Alan Smith (of The Movement) is billed as A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.The design and physical awesomeness of this book shows why eBooks will never eliminate the printed book, especially the craft book. There is nothing more cognitively usable than a beautiful book. And Business Model Generation stands with or beats Taschen’s best craft books. This is the actual cover art, 1/4 cardboard with a flat lay binding: The book was uniquely co-created (contributed to) by me and 469 other paying members of the BMG Hub book community, an innovative and experimental business model for the book’s production. The book review and contribution community is a model I’ve since used (without the paying part) for the book Design for Care (now > 200 members …

21st Century Book Burning

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Wu Wei

Boston.com reports on the end of books, as we know them, at least for this Boston area prep school. Cushing Academy has all the hallmarks of a New England prep school, with one exception. This year, after having amassed a collection of more than 20,000 books, officials at the pristine campus about 90 minutes west of Boston have decided the 144-year-old school no longer needs a traditional library. The academy’s administrators have decided to discard all their books and have given away half of what stocked their sprawling stacks – the classics, novels, poetry, biographies, tomes on every subject from the humanities to the sciences. The future, they believe, is digital. “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. “This isn’t ‘Fahrenheit 451’ [the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel in which books are banned]. We’re not discouraging students from reading. We see this as a natural way to shape emerging trends and optimize technology.’’ This is a case of a foresight pathology. …

Evolution of the Reader Experience (Part II)

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Innovation, Wu Wei

What is “the book” becoming? Will we see the eBook becoming a better delivery of the “reader’s experience?” Or will the printed, bound book continue to deliver a superior interface? In what situations will an eBook outperform the print book? What features will enable the eBook reader to finally excel in supporting a human reader extracting content and understanding meaning? As this piece grew too long, I broke it into an artificial Part II to avoid subjecting my own readership to the poor reader expeirence of the “insufferably long blog article.” To gain some context otherwise missing here, you might read that piece first. I can wait. I see print books being on the verge of a disruptive (backlash?) breakthrough. If you want to see creative innovation, not just large-scale platform innovation, look at unbooks, the SmartBook, BookCamp, craft books, and other innovations of the codex book format. Even the newest eBooks are boring by comparison to print books. While the e-Ink displays have greatly improved readability and thereby mobility,  the display of images, tables, maps, diagrams, and other non-text …

eBook Revolution or More Evolution?

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Innovation, Wu Wei

How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write Required reading – Steven Johnson believes eBooks are at a significant tipping point and a widely innovative range of uses will proceed. This is based largely on the Google hegemony of access, visibility, and social interactions around the book. It also sounds a bit like “this time its different.” Looking at the literature and previous breakthroughs announced around eBooks, from 1999 to 2003 to 2007, as in other industry-pushed trends that never quite made it, there are new evangelists to replace the old ones. As a popular article, not a technical or scholarly one, Johnson proposes some hype pitches: “As a result, 2009 may well prove to be the most significant year in the evolution of the book since Gutenberg hammered out his original Bible.” But he does back it up with some genuinely cool possibilities, albeit some of the best ones do not require Kindle or even Google Books: “Imagine a software tool that scans through the bibliographies of the 20 books you’ve read on a specific topic, …