Last month, if:book released news about Sophie, a project that is aimed at changing the way we think about books. The bottom line is that reading and writing are changing, and as more and more people step into these social Web tools, more and more will be expected of them. There is much to be intrigued about here (from the .pdf):
Sophie will blur the lines beÂtween reading and writing in a way past the capabilities of print books. Imagine that Iâ€™m reading a book: I find something that I disagree with. If itâ€™s a print book, I might write â€œThis isnâ€™t true,â€ or, if the margins are wide enough, I might start scribbling an explanaÂtion of why I think itâ€™s not the case. Were I using Sophie, I could add a note â€“ a note thatâ€™s longer than the book, if need be. If I own the book, I could attach that note to the book permanently. Or I could spin new note off as its own, linked, book. Or to go furthest of all: if I have permission to do so, I could rewrite the content entirely.
Other sorts of less confrontational commentary will also be posÂsible. If Iâ€™m reading a book and I find something that reminds me of a webpage, I can attach a link to it. I could pass this annotated book on to a friend; she could read the book, read my annotations, and attach her own. If I had a hundred friends, they could all do the same…
Sophie will make it possible to integrate the writing of the report with the slideshow that would have accompanied it. Sophie treats all media equally: if adding a slide show would be helpful to a primarily written report, the student can add it on to the page itâ€™s intended to illustrate. No longer do you need to switch from Word to Powerpoint.
Sophie will live in a networked environment. This will be possible in many different ways. As mentioned, Sophie books can link to other Sophie books. However, the two Sophie books donâ€™t have to be resiÂdent on the same computer: the linked Sophie book could very well be on a remote server over the Internet…
Books arenâ€™t the only thing that can be remote: resources used inside of Sophie â€“ for example, streaming video â€“ can be remote. Because Sophie is extensible (see below), it can also link to or include information outside of Sophie â€“ a webpage, for example, or informaÂtion from a database. You could put an RSS feed inside Sophie; you could update a Sophie book with information from a blog.
Where does Sophie end? It should be clear that Sophie is not just an environment for creating and reading books in â€“ itâ€™s an environÂment for creating and reading thatâ€™s conscious of its place in the ecosystem of information.
Apparently, a beta is coming soon…
Tom Hoffman says
OK, but, is it your professional opinion that this will add up to a hill of beans? I mean really? A Squeak based system? That’s kind of a recipe for cool concept that is never used.
Jim Lerman says
Sophie sounds like an online version of the Talmud.
Another scintillating comment that’s really helped me learn a lot, Tom. You know that I don’t know what Squeak is. Another missed chance to teach…
Gayle Keresey says
Squeak is an implementation of the Smalltalk programming language. http://www.squeak.org/