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Books

Submission + - How Will E-Reading Change Us? (txchnologist.com)

ambermichelle writes: If 2011 was the year of the tablet, with the triumph of Apple’s iPad 2 and the more measured success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, it was also the year the print books had their spines ripped out. Chain bookseller Borders filed for bankruptcy while vultures circled Barnes & Noble (which nevertheless survived). As we rush headlong into the e-reading future, Norwegian researcher Anne Mangen has been asking, “How does digital technology change the way we read?”

Mangen is a favorite researcher of digital skeptics such as Nicholas Carr. Her research has found that reading on screens has taught us how to skim texts effectively but we may find it increasingly difficult to focus on difficult tasks. What does this mean for how we educate children? Will the shift to e-books make us forget how to read printed books?

Comment Re:embrace their physicality? (Score 1) 143

You make some good points. Digital technology absolutely makes it easier to design books. No doubt about that. The problem with digital publishing is that (at the moment) you have limited control (even with pdf) over how the reader will see your 'book'.

The format of a book, the font, binding and paper should ideally complement the content—that's pretty hard to do if you read all your books on one e-reader. Now, don't get me wrong, nice books have always been a niche product and will remain so. I have no problem with that and many (maybe most) texts will be fine in electronic form. I just wanted to explain that there are some aspect of paper books that can't be replicated in e-readers.

Comment Re:embrace their physicality? (Score 1) 143

Proper typography, book design, binding, nice paper, interesting format, etc. can make a book into a work of art. Unfortunately most books produced these days are anything but that. For a good example of great book design look at Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style or Edward Tufte's books. I doubt their electronic versions would be anywhere as beautiful.
Education

Submission + - Copyright Reduces Access to Education in Argentina (ip-watch.org)

langelgjm writes: An Argentinean philosophy professor is being sued for alleged copyright infringement for posting translated versions of French philosopher Jacques Derrida's works on a website. In an attempt to make foreign philosophers' work available to Spanish language readers and students, Prof. Horacio Potel has created several websites: one on Nietzsche, another on Heidegger, and one on Derrida (now deactivated), all in Spanish. Philosophy texts are expensive and not widely available in Argentina; most are imported from Spain, and sold only in Buenos Aires.

According to the authorized French publisher, "Horacio Potel has posted, over the course of several years, without authorisation, and free of charge, full versions of several of Jacques Derrida's works, which is harmful to the diffusion of his (Derrida)'s thought." But Potel believes that by removing the works, the publisher has "inflicted a new death on the philosopher by taking his work off the internet." This dispute serves to highlight the larger debate over how copyright affects access to knowledge and educational materials.

Comment Re:It's Nick's, all Nick's (Score 1) 243

This seems like the only bit of discussion where people actually know something about the history of science and know that things weren't as clear cut then as we seem to think now. Anyway, I guess you're suggesting that Copernicus was the third case, i.e. he proposed a theory that could be empirically validated/falsified and was (presumably) better than the previous model. Well, in fact Copernicus' system was significantly worse in empirical adequacy (correspondence to observation) than Ptolemy's (at that time), wasn't really all that simpler (Copernicus assumed, with Aristotle, that planets have circular orbits and therefore needed epicycles too). Copernicus' system only received `real scientific' support much later from Newton's mechanics (but that was based on Copernicus so it's a bit circular). From several historical studies (Kuhn's for one) it seems that Copernicus' motivation for a heliocentric theory was a) that Ptolemaic system verged too far from Aristotle (orbits of planets weren't circular any more with all those epicycles) and b) the worship of the Sun in the renaissance period. Doesn't sound like `science' (as you define it) to me...
Space

Submission + - First Evidence of Another Universe? 2

blamanj writes: Three months ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a large hole at the edge of our universe. Now, Dr. Laura Mersini-Houghton thinks she knows what that means. (Subscription req'd at New Scientist site, there's also an overview here.) According to string theory, there are many universes besides our own. Her team says that smaller universes are positioned at the edge of our universe, and because of gravitational interactions, they can be observed, and they're willing to make a prediction. The recently discovered void is in the northern hemisphere. They contend another one will be found in the southern hemisphere.

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