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Fourth Generation Ebooks

Catherine C. Marshall


Starting in the early 1990s, three generations of ebooks have quietly paved the way for a fourth generation, one that emphasizes the social side of reading. The first generation of ebooks focused on multimedia and the direct advantages of reading on a computer. The second generation explored the mobile form-factor of reading hardware. The third generation—the first to gain widespread adoption—emphasized three concurrent technology advances: light, relatively inexpensive mobile computers; better battery technology; and higher resolution, lower power displays, as well as the availability of far more content. Now we are ready for a fourth generation, one that acknowledges the social aspects of reading. In particular, a fourth generation of ebooks will highlight two new perspectives: (1) reading together (i.e. using ebooks as a focal point of synchronous activities) and (2) reading as a productive activity (i.e. using the collective social data that results from reading as the basis for beyond-paper functionality). This talk will explore how we got to where we are today, and where we’re going next.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inWorkshop on Semantic Web Technologies for Libraries and Readers,
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