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Some Observations about the "Post-Book Book" and Pathology Conferences

Posted Apr 02 2010 12:00am

Prompted by the broad interest in the release of the iPad , Nick Carr offers some interesting observations about the future of the post-book book in his blog RoughType. Here is an excerpt from his blog note (see: The post-book book ):

The iPad's iBooks application may or may not become our e-reader of choice...but the model of book reading (and hence book writing) the iPad promotes seems fated, in time, to become the dominant one. The book itself, in this model, becomes an app, a multihypermediated experience to click through rather than a simple sequence of pages to read through....John Makinson, the CEO of publishing giant Penguin Books, is thrilled about the iPad's potential to refresh his company's product line. "The definition of the book itself seems up for grabs," ....Unlike traditional e-book readers, which had a rather old-fashioned attachment to linear text, the iPad opens the doors to incorporating all sorts of "cool stuff," Makinson continued. "We will be embedding audio, video and streaming into everything we do."

I agree with all of these points and am particularly interested in what we can expect in terms of hypermediated learning materials published post conferences such as the upcoming Pathology Informatics 2010 . Let me briefly quantify the variety and volume of content that will be generated as a result of this 3.5 day extravaganza: (1) 60 plenary, track, and workshop lectures presented by more than 50 faculty experts in the field;  (2) 36 scientific abstract presentations selected on a competitive basis; and (3) approximately 40 exhibitors demonstrating a wide range of computer products. Let's not miss the point that the exhibitors provide very useful content but that the sponsors of such a conference are limited by CME restrictions about the extent to this information can be mixed with the "academic" content delivered from the podium.

The current approach to capturing all such conference content for later review and study is to post the PowerPoint lectures synchronized with audio on the conference web site. The Q and A sessions are also often included in this potpourri. This is a promising start but places a heavy burden on the downstream learner when attempting to absorb all of this information because one significant component is missing -- context or, stated in more simple terms, glue. In a live setting, this glue can be provided, in part, by the informal hallway conversations. What is needed to make of of this content more useful is formal post-conference integration.

Such an effort would require conference editors to blend all of this raw content into a coherent, seamless multi-media presentation, part video excerpts from the lectures themselves, part color commentary by experts in the field, part links to the technical and scientific literature on the web, and snippets from the Q and A sessions. This would be quite expensive to produce but would provide a succinct summary of the status of pathology informatics for that time. The key question, however, is whether such a comprehensive hypermediated post-book-book, designed to be read on a Kindle or iPad, would have sufficient monetary value in the market to justify the expense to produce it.

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