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Thursday, October 23, 2008
  The "book" of the future
The IFbook blog is often stimulating, send one of the contributors to India, and give them a massive tome on 60 Years of Book Publishing in India and you are practically guaranteed that the resulting post a leap into the post-industrial will provide food for thought.

Two extracts, a thought from the BBC and then my comment:
As you might expect, book publishing in India is enormously complex: 80,000 books are published a year by 16,000 different publishers in India's 22 major languages. Translation happens between Indian languages and to and from non-Indian languages. Piracy is a major issue: a number of contributors bemoan the fact that anything published in Bengali is immediately pirated in Bangladesh (and shortly thereafter on sale in the shops of my neighborhood in Queens).
Mohini Rao in one of the articles in the book mentioned above wrote
We are facing the post-literacy problems even before achieving complete literacy. We are coping with the information revolution even as we struggle with pre-industrial problems. . . . According to the report of the committee on TV software, '. . . Electronic media like the radio and TV have the potential of transcending the literacy barrier and therefore also the class barrier.' TV has made it possible for the non-literate masses to have access to information, and consequently, to the fruits of development without first crossing the literacy barrier. People belonging to the pre-industrial era can take a leap into the post-industrial era without passing through the stages through which the West had to pass.
I listen to the (also often stimulating) Digital Planet podcasts (I believe they are also broadcast) from the BBC world service. While in Brazil (another huge and rapidly developing economy and culture) the presenter visited a radio station whose playlists are chosen by listeners.

So, here's my comment in the IFbook blog:

So, the current "book" for many Indians is the TV or VCD (or perhaps DVD) and/or radio.

If India's mobile phone usage is anything like that in neighbouring
Sri Lanka then a medium that combines radio (or TV) broadcast and
mobile phone (adding either reply or two way communication will further
extend this "book"...

BBC World's "Digital Planet" had an interesting (but very short)
item on a radio station in Brazil which allows its listeners to create
the playlist, that strikes me as modeling the future. Talkback 2.0 ;)






What do you think? Is Talkback 2.0 (or something like it) the new "book"?

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Sunday, June 15, 2008
  Smaller lighter audio Bibles
On FutureBible David introduces us to a (to me) new file format AMR: An alternative to mp3, I have tried it, using the conversion tool David points to, and it works, a 1.11MB MP3 (at 32kbps) becomes a 266KB AMR (at 6.7 MR) which sounds "nearly" as good though a bit "quieter".

This could be great news for projects like PodBible.mobi (making the PodBible audio Bible podcasts available to mobile phone users).

However, I have two questions you might be able to answer for me:
  1. What mobile phones can or can't play AMR files? So if you have a phone can you try downloading this AMR file and seeing if it plays, and report the make, model and result below, please!
  2. What exactly are the licensing issues with AMR there is a link on the Wikipedia site to an VoiceAge legal page, but I go cross-eyed trying to find out what that means for ordinary non-commercial users. Any comments on that would be helpful too!

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Friday, May 02, 2008
  I'm sold on mobile phones, maybe...
David Kerr is a persistent chap before I'd set off for Faraway Places, he had me convinced that half the population of Mozambique had access to mobile phones with video (something half my household don't yet have). Visiting the refugee camp convinced me that lots of people there and even more in Thailand "proper" do too... Now he's trying to convince us that this format could be a good way to spread the Bible.

He convinced me to spend a while playing with 3GP, if I cut the frame rate to slideshow proportions (just 1fps) and keep the audio low (but not too low) I can fit a whole short Psalm with pictures into less than 400KB. Judge for yourselves if it is worth it (just remember I spent more effort on the technical side than choosing photos - so there are lots of cute kids ;-)

Here is the 3gp version of Psalm 67 at only 368KB, and the WMV Psalm 67 at 1.97MB with much better picture quality to demonstrate what you lose in making it quite that small for a phone. (and a Flash version of Psalm 67 for Maccies at "only" 2.57MB!)

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
  Audio Bible
John has a link to an interview Introducing Maureen Girkins, Zondervan’s CEO in which she notes that Zondervan's all singing and dancing celebrity Audio Bible The Bible Experience was the best-selling Bible of 2007. No surprise in a way since our, almost un-advertised, read-by-plain-ordinary-people, PodBible has delivered more than some 40,000 audio Bible chapters every month for some time now.

She was asked:
Can you tease out an example of how publishing will change?

Wireless phones, which didn't exist 20 years ago, have changed not only the way people communicate but also the way they live. People are going to read, and they're going to read paper for the rest of our lifetimes. But I'm convinced that different distribution for content will change the way we live. We have entered the digital world. It's not like we're just stepping our toe into it. The Bible Experience audio Bible was the best-selling Bible of 2007.

I think we can make some predictions today for how further distribution changes will alter the way we live our Christian life. The spiritual journey many of us have will be changed by the Internet and digital technology. But I'd like a little more time in this discovery process before I can vocalize how.

Now, this is cautious, but much less cautious than print-based publishers usually are! It makes projects like David's for mobile phones or our PodBible relevance visible!

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
 

What's next - future media ::

Christianity Today has an article “What’s Next: Publishing and Broadcasting”. (HT to Think Christian who posted snippets, and before that to Lingamish for noticing!)

Isn't it nice when the “mainstream media” deign to think about the future ;-)

Two items from the comments (on Think Christian) really struck me.

The first is daft, Donnell Duncan writes:

I have a website and I’m publishing a book soon. Even though it’s 2006, for at least another twenty years, I expect the influence of my book to extend just as far as my website.
Well no Donnell, unless your “book” is a fiction bestseller like Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code, it's likely that a website will have far more impact.

Suppose your print book sells 1,000 copies (which at least in Biblical Studies would be strong sales) and 250 of those are to libraries. Suppose, what's more, that on average individual owners loan the book to three other people over the next twenty years, that would make 3,000 readers. Again let's assume that each library copy is read 100 times before falling to bits – 25,000 readers. Wow, that's nearly 30,000 readers over the twenty years :)

Now let's compare my Amos commentary, about 900 different IP addresses “visit” the material each day. Of course most of those are Google visitors who do not find what they want and move on, though since somebody looks at over 8,000 pages per day some visitors are reading quite a bit. If we assume one print page of your book is equivalent to 4 web pages from Amos that would be 2,000 pages of your book each day, if the book is 250 pages long that's 8 cover-to-cover readers daily, or nearly 3,000 per year. So on a conservative estimate (and every year so far readership of the online material has grown) the web “book” is about twice as influential as the print one ;-)

Dusty Bogard by contrast is a future focused commentator. He quotes Jonathan Schwartz, CEO Sun Microsystems:

I was in a European airport a few weeks ago, waiting in a lounge with about 100 other people – when I had to revise my world view. Most people had mobile handsets – we all would’ve predicted that. But no one was talking on their phone. They were all looking at them, and either browsing or text’ing or playing a game – but no one was making a voice call… Which only strengthens my belief that most people in the world will first experience the internet on their handset. Which means most businesses in the world trying to reach those consumers or leverage the internet should broaden their horizons.
Eeek, we need a .mobi domain and site optimised for WAP (and/or XHTML-MP - can anyone tell me which or how?) for the PodBible project, there's a whole bunch of potential listeners we have hardly started to supply. I'll register the domain, does anyone know someone who can turn an RSS podcast feed into a WAP or XHTML-MP site?

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