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Old 11-21-2011, 11:02 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Torwan View Post
And now ebooks? Really? When people from the year 2111 will want to read something from today, will they use the same filetypes we use? Do you use the same filetypes you used 10, 20 years ago? The same devices? Ever tried to install an application on Windows 7 that was designed for Windows 95? Or DOS?
As far as filetypes are concerned if they are not proprietary it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.
Of course I'm not saying that the problem doesn't exist but it's easily solvable.

The physical support (if physical supports will still be there in the future) is a way more complex issue.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:56 PM   #32
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I would think battery life has to be longer. Somewhere around 24 hours.
Battery life on what? My eInk reader gets more than that as is. Some LCD devices get stuff in that neighborhood, provided you don't use wifi.


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Originally Posted by Steven Lyle Jordan View Post
A lot of the responses here are along the lines of "this is a horrible idea because of the current state of the ebook industry."

Don't worry: It will get better.

I wouldn't suggest that we're ready to abandon print texts for ebooks in schools yet, though we are ready to begin the process. One thing that's sorely lacking is the equivalent e-versions of the print texts being used now, but that will change. Some schools are giving new students iPads, laptops or other electronic devices; and many students already have devices. We can use format standardization, but that's a need for the entire ebook industry, not just for education.

Oh... and e-texts can be backed up. How often do you copy and store away copies of printed texts?

So, there's no reason to expect that that schools can't eventually move all students (and faculty) to a digital-based text system.

One other thing: The example mentioned in the article, suggesting students surrender all print material, is quite obviously extremist. No need to get bent out of shape over an exaggerated scenario.
Format standardization is a good thing, but as a far as backing up goes, well, depends on how it is. Like I said before, many publishers aren't letting you actually download anything. You pay for a subscription to access the content on a website. Not something you can really back up. Even if you do, since in my experience most textbook publishers have time limits of some sort, what good is backing up going to do if after 6 months the DRM locks you out?

Last edited by Hellmark; 11-21-2011 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 11-21-2011, 02:16 PM   #33
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Like I said before, many publishers aren't letting you actually download anything. You pay for a subscription to access the content on a website. Not something you can really back up. Even if you do, since in my experience most textbook publishers have time limits of some sort, what good is backing up going to do if after 6 months the DRM locks you out?
That model isn't locked in stone. If digital texts become more ubiquitous, there may be new sales models on which they are based, or new rules and regulations under which they are handled, archived and accessed. Remember, for this to work, students, their parents (who will pay for it) and their congresspeople (whose votes may depend on satisfying their constituents) will have a say in the process... or students will go elsewhere, and the schools will know that the model must be fixed.

And I've heard it said that any DRM can be broken.

I'm just not going to assume the textbook industry will be given free rein to run roughshod over the people.
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:06 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by italianReader View Post
As far as filetypes are concerned if they are not proprietary it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.
Of course I'm not saying that the problem doesn't exist but it's easily solvable.

The physical support (if physical supports will still be there in the future) is a way more complex issue.
Actually, yes. .txt hasn't changed meaningfully, even though text encodings have. I can still read a file encoded by an Apple II just as easily as one I made an hour ago.

Then again, I'm a bit of a dinosaur.
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:18 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by italianReader View Post
As far as filetypes are concerned if they are not proprietary it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.
This is why I'm migrating toward .epub despite using a Kindle.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:23 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by italianReader View Post
As far as filetypes are concerned if they are not proprietary it doesn't seem to be much of a problem.
Of course I'm not saying that the problem doesn't exist but it's easily solvable.

The physical support (if physical supports will still be there in the future) is a way more complex issue.
Indeed.

I've read up a few things about time capsules since the concept interests me a lot. There are a few famous ones around from the 1940s to 1960s. If you read what they put in there, you'll see the problem. The storage devices are so old that today only few people and/or museums still have those. Fortunately they put the reading devices into these time capsules. However, if they break over time...
A similar issue occurs with everything stored electronically. Nothing we use (computers, notebooks, tablets, mp3-players, smartphones) is built to last decades or be compatible to legacy information. They're built to be new and cheap. Every few years, a new technology appears that makes all existing stuff obsolete, creates a clean-slate start so to speak. Voluntarily abandoning the past.
It happened with 16bit-app's, it is currently happening with 32bit-app's...
MOBI? I don't know if an eReader from the year 2020 will still support this format since it's now considered obsolete. Imagine the year 2050 or 2100...I think this is a HUGE issue. The only "solution" is to contineously convert the everything forward to new formats.
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:43 AM   #37
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The only "solution" is to contineously convert the everything forward to new formats.
And really, how many people actually do that?
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:45 AM   #38
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And really, how many people actually do that?
Unless you're interested in becoming your own archive, there is not much reason to invest time and space in trying to save every bit of text you've ever read or written. Speaking strictly as a reader (authors may feel they are exceptions), I can't begin to read everything I want before my time runs out. I seldom if ever re-read a book because I'm haunted by lists of 'must-read' material beckoning me to open the first page.

As a photographer, I do retain old photos in negatives or color slides or digital RAW files. I can still access the negatives decades after they were taken, and I can still access and convert the digital RAW files using backwards-compatible software. Once the editors fail to support my storage format, I will begin converting them to the new standard, but not before. Progressive conversions can be cumulatively destructive.

Even today, there are software emulators capable of running virtually all old programs written for nearly any operating system. If legacy material is of sufficient value to recover and convert, there will be a way to do it. MOBI is a simple format and is easily converted to the format of your choice (TXT, ePub, etc.) using programs such as Calibre.
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Old 11-22-2011, 11:53 AM   #39
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The only "solution" is to contineously convert the everything forward to new formats.
The file type format is likely to change maybe once every 20 years. It doesn't look like a very big problem, does it?
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Old 11-22-2011, 05:45 PM   #40
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The file type format is likely to change maybe once every 20 years. It doesn't look like a very big problem, does it?
Actually, I've lived through a couple of those format rollovers (Concertware to Finale and AppleWorks to Word) and I've lost stuff to them. I think it's a bigger problem than you are suggesting.
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Old 11-22-2011, 07:03 PM   #41
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The tools to archive and convert files are here; people just aren't using them, usually because they haven't developed the right habits, or the tools are more trouble than they want to go through to use them. But it's like having a lawn--you have to accept the fact that, every once and awhile, you just have to get out there and mow it.
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:21 PM   #42
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Personally I like the idea of digital books for study. That's currently my preference. The advantages are nice: using the hardware (whether computer/tablet/ereader) to do a search so you can find a specific term in the text, font size changes on the fly, the ability to zoom in and enlarge pictures, reduced weight versus printed materials, electronic bookmarking of pages for reference, on the fly dictionary look-ups, cut/copy & paste of text.....

It may not be do-able right now on a large scale for various reasons, but the OP was quite correct in the many advantages of switching over.

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Old 11-22-2011, 09:56 PM   #43
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Do you use the same filetypes you used 10, 20 years ago?
My ebook reader handles ASCII text just fine, and in fact, I have on it a short story I wrote (as a text file) in 1986.
A large minority of my ebooks are in PDF, which I've been using since 1996. I still have a PDF textbook I used in graduate school in 2002.

We have several good standards. New formats come and go, of course, and occasionally you have to convert to keep up, but that hasn't been a problem so far.
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:37 AM   #44
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Unless you're interested in becoming your own archive, there is not much reason to invest time and space in trying to save every bit of text you've ever read or written. Speaking strictly as a reader (authors may feel they are exceptions), I can't begin to read everything I want before my time runs out. I seldom if ever re-read a book because I'm haunted by lists of 'must-read' material beckoning me to open the first page.
That is true for yourself, but if you look beyond the horizon, what about the ones coming after us in 50, 100, 500 years? Do we really want to shut them out of everything that written in our time because of missing backward-compatibility?

Just one example: Lord of the Rings was published in the mid-1950s, but it still has a lot of fans and created a very successful movie series 50 years after publishing. With an attitude not caring about backward-compatibility, none of that would have happened and barely anyone would know it. And this is just one example out of entertainment literature. If I think about politics, history or philosophy...
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Old 11-24-2011, 02:24 AM   #45
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Actually, I've lived through a couple of those format rollovers (Concertware to Finale and AppleWorks to Word) and I've lost stuff to them. I think it's a bigger problem than you are suggesting.
But those are propietary formats, and includes an optional migration. Appleworks files open just fine in iWork. Jumping between programs, when they don't support the fileformats you're using, of course you're going to have issues. But if there are still apps that support the files, and you just choose not to use them, well, that's another story.
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