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Old 01-04-2010, 05:12 PM   #1
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Vook's Sherlock Holmes App (mediabistro)

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Vook has been very loud lately on Twitter, trying to get interested parties to download its free "Sherlock Holmes Experience" app from iTunes. This weekend, amidst all the buzz for the new Sherlock Holmes movie, eBookNewser did just that.

The App functions as a sample of what Vook is trying to do: it's the complete text of two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stores (both of which are now in the public domain), plus hyperlinks to Wikipedia entries for terms Vook thinks deserve some explaining (the first page has a link to "opium," for instance). Plus there are short video segments (such as the one above) produced by Vook, meant to offer intriguing background information and bring the story "to life."
from:
http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknews...7732.asp?c=rss
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:28 PM   #2
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I know I'm going to be so in the minority here, but nonetheless........

This is just an abomination to me.

Reading is a very cerebral experience, you need to immerse yourself entirely into the process in order to gain full benefit.

I don't want links, or 'short video segments' in my book!

Have we become a society so unable to think for ourselves we need to be guided to "relevant" articles?

"plus hyperlinks to Wikipedia entries for terms Vook thinks deserve some explaining (the first page has a link to "opium," for instance). Plus there are short video segments (such as the one above) produced by Vook, meant to offer intriguing background information and bring the story "to life.""


You bring the story to life with your mind.

AAARGGHH!

The dumbing down of civilization continues.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:51 PM   #3
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I understand your frustration DG, but with hypertexted books now not only possible, but useful, I think this will be on the rise.

Also consider the usefulness of this type of "augmented reading" (taken from the transhumanist term, augmented reality) in the classroom, where a student can immediately look up a potentially confusing reference as he or she is writing a paper without having to go track down 2 or 3 reference books.

In my own case, an RPG book where a term automatically links me to rules covering that case and other references dealing with that situation is potentially incredibly valuable.

I'm not religious, but the ability to buy a Bible with an attached reference wiki would be a massive resource for a religious studies major.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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Interactivity has its place, but with fiction? I won one of those vooks and found it very hard to enjoy the writing. I think multimedia is extremely overrated.
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
I understand your frustration DG, but with hypertexted books now not only possible, but useful, I think this will be on the rise.

Also consider the usefulness of this type of "augmented reading" (taken from the transhumanist term, augmented reality) in the classroom, where a student can immediately look up a potentially confusing reference as he or she is writing a paper without having to go track down 2 or 3 reference books.

In my own case, an RPG book where a term automatically links me to rules covering that case and other references dealing with that situation is potentially incredibly valuable.

I'm not religious, but the ability to buy a Bible with an attached reference wiki would be a massive resource for a religious studies major.
Great response. Thank you.

"Augmented reading" is a nicely turned phrase. But heres the thing.

You are limited to what you can 'research' to what/where the providers decide you need. Thats freakin' scary.

Independent research will soon go the way of the dodo.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:08 PM   #6
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Hi all,

This is Matt from Vook. I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for all the comments -- both negative and positive (PhishStyx, in particular, seems to be thinking exactly as we are when it comes to our potential).

I do want to address some of the criticism though and perhaps make more clear our mission.

First, we don't in any way intend to replace the imaginative reading process. If you just want to read your vook, there is a view that lets you do simply that. If you want more enhanced features -- video, links, social media -- we provide that as well. I'm a devoted reader and have spent my life enjoying books. What we're doing is exciting: we're building a new way for stories to reach readers and a new way to expand their scope. The reference I always use is "House of Leaves" -- that was a phenomenal, gripping novel and it was crying out for the vook treatment. The author even duplicated hyperlinking with different colored text. Or take a look at David Carr's excellent "Night of the Gun". Carr documented his book with extensive interview footage. While reading it, I really wanted to see the interviews behind the story. But there was no easy way to do that. What we're doing is opening books up to even more information, even more possibility.

We're aggressively ramping up production in 2010, so there will be a lot more opportunities to produce really great vooks that SHOW what we do instead of me TELLING you.

(Also, I can vouch for the people researching the links. They're no drudges).

Please write me with any questions at Matthew@vook.com

Best,

Matt Cavnar
Vook
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertgrandma View Post
Great response. Thank you.

"Augmented reading" is a nicely turned phrase. But heres the thing.

You are limited to what you can 'research' to what/where the providers decide you need. Thats freakin' scary.

Independent research will soon go the way of the dodo.
Usually the opposite with me...once I start down the 'discovery' trail via hyperlink, I'll find two or three other links open and soon I'm researching very interesting articles, terms, maps, etc. that had NOTHING to do with the first link I launched to 'discover' some linked idea. I can spend as long following interesting rabbit trails as walking down the published road.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:17 PM   #8
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I can see this being very helpful in teaching the classics in high school. In my county school system Dickens is only taught in 10th grade honors language arts classes. An application like this could make Dickens and other authors deemed difficult more accessible to both the honors and non-honors classes.

Being able to toggle between the text view and the multimedia view is excellent.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vook View Post
Hi all,

This is Matt from Vook. I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for all the comments -- both negative and positive (PhishStyx, in particular, seems to be thinking exactly as we are when it comes to our potential).

I do want to address some of the criticism though and perhaps make more clear our mission.

First, we don't in any way intend to replace the imaginative reading process. If you just want to read your vook, there is a view that lets you do simply that. If you want more enhanced features -- video, links, social media -- we provide that as well. I'm a devoted reader and have spent my life enjoying books. What we're doing is exciting: we're building a new way for stories to reach readers and a new way to expand their scope. The reference I always use is "House of Leaves" -- that was a phenomenal, gripping novel and it was crying out for the vook treatment. The author even duplicated hyperlinking with different colored text. Or take a look at David Carr's excellent "Night of the Gun". Carr documented his book with extensive interview footage. While reading it, I really wanted to see the interviews behind the story. But there was no easy way to do that. What we're doing is opening books up to even more information, even more possibility.

We're aggressively ramping up production in 2010, so there will be a lot more opportunities to produce really great vooks that SHOW what we do instead of me TELLING you.

(Also, I can vouch for the people researching the links. They're no drudges).

Please write me with any questions at Matthew@vook.com

Best,

Matt Cavnar
Vook
As much as I am against the idea, I can understand its appeal. I have no doubt you will find great success.

Its like our brains are being taught, slowly, to think differently.

Or perhaps.......not to think quite so much, to let others "help" us think.

Like I said.....I realize I am way in the minority here. Linking to interviews is one thing.

Who decides, tho, what resources to point to?
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:03 PM   #10
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I like the idea, personally. I don't see much downside to extra embedded information. I imagine it will sort of be like the built in Kindle dictionary, for the people who use it, it's an amazing and much needed feature. For those who don't use it, I'm sure they don't even give it a second thought as they read.

I think we live in an age of options, but it's always a good idea to be able to turn those options off. Which it seems Vook understands well.

It reminds me a bit of the "Annotations" on YouTube videos. Sometimes I find some much needed information in those, and sometimes -- when I simply want to watch the video -- I turn them off because they annoy me.

I just like being able to decide when I want it.
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vook View Post
Hi all,

This is Matt from Vook. I just wanted to drop by and say thanks for all the comments -- both negative and positive (PhishStyx, in particular, seems to be thinking exactly as we are when it comes to our potential).

(snipped stuff went here)

Best,

Matt Cavnar
Vook
It's good to know that I've brain-bonded with someone somewhere!

Feel free to use that "augmented reading" phrase although I would kinda like a footnoted credit somewhere.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:50 PM   #12
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exer View Post
I like the idea, personally. I don't see much downside to extra embedded information. I imagine it will sort of be like the built in Kindle dictionary, for the people who use it, it's an amazing and much needed feature. For those who don't use it, I'm sure they don't even give it a second thought as they read.

.
I don't think its anything like a dictionary, which serves one purpose....to look up meanings of words.

embedded videos, hyperlinks or what have you will simply take you away from the original purpose of the book..that is, to concentrate on what you are reading.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:10 PM   #14
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As a teacher (at a virtual school, no less) I agree w/DG. Students already lack reading comprehension skills. So many students have ADD/ADHD or ACT like they have it, that going off on a bit of a tangent would derail them from the story itself. I can see how this would LOOK pretty--especially in reading those harder books. But I'm not convinced that drawing kids/teens away from the story won't have them struggling more to come back to it.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:16 PM   #15
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In a way, this reminds me of a high-tech version of the Annotated Sherlock Holmes, which was one of the coolest books ever. It had detailed footnotes on every page -- sometimes so detailed that they went onto the next page. These footnotes would explain the history behind something or state that Watson got the weather wrong for that day in June or speculate on the birthday of Sherlock Holmes. They could be distracting, however, so sometimes I made myself read the story and then went back and read the footnotes. (I usually read the footnotes after finishing footnoted H. P. Lovecraft stories, for example.)

On the other hand, in an e-book, this would probably drive me nuts. I know it wouldn't take long for me to find myself reading a flamewar on a Wikipedia entry and forgetting all about the story.
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