Picture this — once upon a time we had print books with print references to print resources. Now in non fiction for younger readers we most often have print books with print references to both print and online resources. In my last post, and Linda’s responses, I’ve explored the idea of having a dedicated website so the interested reader could more easily make use of those online links and connections. But think the next possible stage: what if the resource website were a kind of Net-Exploration-Capsule that would take you to a curated selection of places where you could experience, not just read about, whatever the author had written about? For example — watch Youtube clips, hear music, play games, zoom in and out of Google Earth topographies. These would not necessarily be the sources the author used, but rather other ways of being immersed in aspects of the story the author tells on the page. This is a musuem as a ride — a journey — an experience of the riches of the net, as selected and provided by the author — who has come to learn about all of these cool places because s/he came upon them while working on the book.
Of course other capacities could be added in to the NetCapsule — a Skype room where you could meet the author or other experts willing to share their time, a BlackBoard space for comments and interactions — all depending on time, availability, price. The larger idea here is shifting from notes and citations as proof of effort by the author to notes and citations as being markers of a journey the author is sharing with readers — and providing, as much as possible, ways for the book reader to experience as a net voyager. To go perhaps a bit crazy in imagery, citations were at one time a safety net — they grounded your narrative in the set of sources you explored to create it. But now they can be the other meaning of net — the web of connections surrounding the text.
I’ve said this before — but what if an author teamed up with a librarian, or a class, so that as the author writes this ally helped to create the web capsule — and in exchange the author shared his/her research and process with the school or library. So what would emerge at publication would be the regular book to be evaluated as always, and the live netcapsule created to provide parallel experiences to net voyagers. The author would not be judged for something s/he did not create — but any review could tell people where to find this tool.