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ASU project explores the future of publishing


October 3, 2013

How will people read in the future? What will books look and feel like? How will publishers adjust in the face of technological upheaval? In what new ways will authors engage with their readers?

To answer these questions and others, Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination is hosting the Sprint Beyond the Book at the Frankfurt Book Fair (Halle 8.0, Stand L171), Oct. 9-11. Sprint Beyond the Book Logo Download Full Image

Sprint Beyond the Book is an ambitious experiment that teams up writers, scholars, digital publishers and journalists to create a digital book featuring original writing, video and images in just 72 hours. The book will provide a diverse set of perspectives on the future of publishing and generate fresh insights on how reading, writing and literary culture will be reshaped by technological, economic and social change.

The event also will feature crowdsourced text and video responses to a variety of questions about the future of books and publishing collected through the project’s website, SprintBeyondtheBook.com. The project website will launch Oct. 7. Until then, more information is available at csi.asu.edu/futurebook. Once completed, the book will be available to download for free.

“When we read and write, we are tied together with millions of others through language, commerce and conversation. Our vision for the future of publishing is one that embraces the collective energy of readers,” says Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and assistant professor at ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering and Department of English.

“Sprint Beyond the Book is an experiment in opening up the traditionally closed processes of writing and publishing and inviting people from around the world to collaborate out in the open with our authors and editors.”

The project’s website allows people anywhere in the world to see the book take shape in real time and contribute their own ideas in writing or video.

On site at the Frankfurt Book Fair – the world’s largest book and media event – a small group of writers, editors and videographers will set up shop in a customized workspace on the show floor and collaboratively write, edit, curate and design a book using a collaborative media platform, currently in prototype form at Intel® Labs. The core team of writers includes:

• Jane Friedman, web editor for Virginia Quarterly Review and former publisher for Writer’s Digest

• Charles Stross, science fiction writer, futurist and contributor to Foreign Policy magazine

• Dan Gillmor, author and professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

• Lee Konstantinou, novelist, assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland and associate editor for fiction and criticism for the Los Angeles Review of Books

Additional writers contributing material remotely as part of the project’s global network include Brian David Johnson, Intel futurist and principal engineer; Corey Pressman, president of Exprima Media and co-founder and publisher of The Holocene magazine; John Risseeuw, director of ASU’s Pyracantha Press and proprietor of Cabbagehead Press; Christine Szuter, director of ASU’s Scholarly Publishing Graduate Certificate Program; Beverly Schlee, conservator at ASU Libraries; G. Pascal Zachary, professor of practice at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Mark Tebeau, director of ASU’s Public History; and Ariel Bogle, research associate at the New America Foundation.

The Sprint Beyond the Book is sponsored by Intel Corporation and is part of a larger collaboration between the Center for Science and the Imagination and Intel to explore the future of books and publishing, and the untapped potential of digital technology to make reading more social, collaborative, interactive and personalized.

“I’m excited by the live experiment at the Frankfurt Book Fair," says Brian David Johnson, Intel futurist and principal engineer. "It will give us a glimpse into the future as we explore a highly collaborative and engaging post-publishing experience. We are futurehunting a really different tomorrow for books, narrative, media and the interactions between people.”

“The Center for Science and the Imagination is exploring a number of activities around the future of the book, including our work with Intel and Project Hieroglyph,” Finn says. “New technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform our experience with the written word and we are just beginning to scratch the surface.”

The Center for Science and the Imagination invites readers, writers and publishers everywhere to contribute to the project at SprintBeyondtheBook.com, both before and during the Oct. 9-11 writing process. Until the website launch on Oct. 7, visit csi.asu.edu/futurebook to learn more.

Joey Eschrich

program manager, Center for Science and the Imagination

480-442-2682