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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Twice Shy

Site Seeing

Ed Sullivan is justifiably cautious about the great new ebook world — we’ve all been hyped before. I was a real CD-ROM enthusiast, until I wasn’t. But there are new things out there coming, or even in place already, that we do need to be aware of — if only to question whether and how they apply to our worlds of non-fiction and books for young readers. Here’s the latest rumbling about the Ipad and how it will change ebooks Notice that you can turn pages by hand. Now there are big, big issues about images, design, permissions — many questions (not to speak of the access question of who will have the device and how that relates to schools and classes). But we do need to pay attention.
      And even as we gaze ahead to see what is about to come, there are cool new things already in place. My friend Bill Tally, who is a real expert on education and technology, showed me this: ( a site where students can meet, compete, using gaming to learn. Is this "the answer" — no. But, like Google Lit Trips which we’ve previously discussed here, it shows the potential power of linking books, print, kids, and the capacities of the net.
         I am excited about this moment — and I suspect many of you are. The problem is that, right now, out of the gate, the people who are doing the creating are tech types or, surely, giant media corporations. There is no venue where the solo author who knows how to write for young readers can get into the game, can experiment, can work with tech types to marry one skill set with another. So that leaves us feeling both anxious (are we going to be left out?) and thwarted (boy I’d love to create something in this new world, but how? where do I start?) I’m looking for that smart businessperson who creates little think tanks were teachers, librarians, authors, and tech types can play together and build the future — are you out there?


  1. Monica Edinger says:

    Years ago I was going to get you and Bill together. (We worked together on many things long long ago.) Guess it happened some other way (e.g. both living in Maplewood perhaps?). Was great to see his name and a bit of what he is up to now. Flashback looks very neat.

  2. maplewood is in fact one connection, his wife went to Cornell as did mine, so there is a second connection that way — and Bill and I have been talking about yet another project which is quite cool indeed, should it work out — more when I know more.

  3. Vicky Alvear Shecter says:

    Boy, you nailed it–as a solo author, there is that fear of being left out and feeling frustrated about seeing the potential but not having a clue on how to tap into it. The flashback site/project looks amazing.

  4. Ed Sullivan says:

    I recently read an interesting book called You Are Not a Gadget by Jason Lanier. He does not have anything to say about e-readers, but he does have a lot of provocative observations about the cultural impact of Web 2.0 social networking technologies. A compelling argument he makes is that we are allowing technology to shape who we are due to an abundance of thoughtlessness and lack of self-reflection on our parts. Is there some irony in the fact that I bought this book authored by a “father of viurtual reality” while browsing through my local, independent bookstore?

  5. I am interested in his argument — I do think we allow digital tools to shape us, instead of using those tools to accomplish ends that we set for ourselves. The tyranny of the new.