Last week Proboscis got back a delivery of PPOD books commissioned by Cosmo China in Bloomsbury, London. The book commemorates 20 years of Cosmo China and its artists. The shop was begun by Josie Firmin and Christopher Stangeways and produces handpainted ceramics. During it’s lifetime three of Josie’s sisters have painted china for Cosmo (and continue to do so!) as has Josie’s dad, Peter Firmin, who’s perhaps better known as the creator of Bagpuss along with Oliver Postgate.
Pages for Josie Firmin and Peter Firmin from Cosmo China PPOD book
For the anniversary of Cosmo China 20 artists were asked to paint a plate and the book celebrates these special plates and the artists who created them. My favourite part of the book though is the front cover which uses the new attribute of bookleteer that allows you to have a full-cover image and features an illustration of the Cosmo China shop front.
The PPOD book is going to be sold in Cosmo China however because it was made on bookleteer you can download your own copy from diffusion.org.uk.
A set of Bookcubes generated using the bookleteer API
James Bridle of booktwo.org was one of the participants at the Pitch Up and Publish: Augmented Reading a couple of weeks ago, and he talked a little about the idea of books as symbols and the related BookCube project he’d done using the bookleteer API.
Here, I’ll just give a summary of the project. James has written a post on booktwo.org describing the project which I really recommend you to read because it’s seriously interesting and covers more topics than I describe here…
James started with the idea that the lifespan of a book looks something like the drawing in the image above. There is a short period of the book-as-object acting as it’s own advertisement, then a period of time where you are reading the book and taking in the content, then during the final, and longest, amount of time the book-as-object acts as a souvenir of the reading period.
James has already begun to address the idea of digital souvenirs for eBooks with his bkkeepr project and with the bookleteer API he extended this to create automatically generated Bookcubes. These cubes display the information collected by bkkeepr and includes an image of the book cover. Over time James imagines the Bookcubes to build up on your shelf as a visible and tangible souvenir of your eBook reading. For bookleteer, this is an interesting tangent – instead of being an object to read it becomes an object that marks the fact that reading has taken place – and the content becomes separated from the form.
Schoolchildren in Umulogho; Schoolchildren in Watford
Writing yesterday about the importance of the tangible paper form of bookleteer reminded me of the ‘A Little Something About Me‘ project by Bev Carter carried out in 2007 – 2009 as part of Proboscis’ Generator Case Studies Residency Programme.
Bev wanted to make connections between her local school in England and the schoolchildren in Umulogho village, Imo state, Nigeria and the eBooks provided her with a way to do this.
The first eBook of the project, ‘A Little Something About Me‘, contained paintings, pictures and information by the students of the local school in Umulogho. The children were asked to write ‘a little something about me’ describing what learning meant to them, their hopes, fears, likes, dislikes etc. These eBooks were brought back to the UK and taken into Bev’s local school where the British children read and responded to the Umulogho eBooks helping to devise the questions for a second eBook called ‘Kedu? How Are You?‘ which was made online then printed out and sent out to Umologho early in 2008.
From Kedu? How Are You? eBook: Questions about Umulogho by British schoolchildren illustrated with pictures by students in Umulogho from the A Little Something About Me eBooks
The ‘Kedu? How Are You?‘ eBook (Kedu means ‘How are you? in Igbo, the main language spoken in Umulogho Village) was designed as a notebook to be completed by the children in Umulogho, responding to questions asked about them and their lives by British schoolchildren. Filling in the eBook also enabled the children of Umulogho to ask questions of the children in Watford such as ‘what seasons do you have in England?’ and ‘what religions do you have?’
Response to the Kedu? How Are You? eBook by students in Umulogho
In October 2008 the completed Kedu eBooks were taken back to the school in Watford that had asked the original questions. The students were delighted to see the answers to their questions, such as ‘are there any crocodiles in the village stream?’ (some Umulogho students had seen some and others hadn’t) and got the students talking about the differences between the everyday lives of the Umulogho children and their own – for example, what time they wake up in the morning and what they do before school as most students in Umulogho were awake by 5.30 am and had gone to the village stream and back to collect water before going to school.
Response to the Kedu? How Are You? eBook by students in Umulogho
Even though the school in Umulogho doesn’t yet have a computer or internet access, it was still possible to send and receive paper copies of the eBooks, and by scanning in the completed eBooks the results could be shared online. In this way a conversation was able to be held across continents, cultures and technological formats.
Read more about the project and download the Umulogho eBooks at diffusion.org.uk
Last summer I collaborated with James Leach (Anthropology Dept, University of Aberdeen), Lissant Bolton and Liz Bonshek (Ethnographic Dept, British Museum) to help document the visit to London of two people from Reite village, Papua New Guinea – Porer Nombo and Pinbin Sisau. Porer and Pinbin had been invited to come to the British Museum to help identify and provide information about hundreds of the objects from their locality which are in the BM’s collection. It was an amazing privilege and an education to spend time with them watching how their knowledge of their world was rooted in a multi-sensory memory, triggered as much by touch as by seeing. Several eNotebooks were completed which were immediately scanned and printed to make further copies for Porer and Pinbin to take back home with them, and were published on our diffusion site.
On Sunday (June 20th) I got an email from James asking if it was possible to have some copies of the eNotebooks we made last year printed up via bookleteer’s PPOD service for him to take to Reite village on his next trip to Papua New Guinea in July. I just had to remake the scanned-in versions into new eBooks with bookleteer (which took about an hour for all 4), and I then sent the eBooks to press first thing on Tuesday morning. In a super quick turnaround time, I collected the printed versions this morning (Friday 25th).
Porer & Pinbin’s visit was part of the larger Melanesia Project, a conference for which happens next week (June 28th & 29th) at UCL’s Anthropology Department. We’re looking forward to sharing the printed eBooks with colleagues there and getting their feedback and ideas on using bookleteer and the eBooks as innovative ways to capture and share field work, both with each other and with the communities they work with and study.
We’d love to hear from other anthropologists and ethnographers (and any other disciplines too) interested in using bookleteer and the eBooks as creative and shareable notebooks for fieldwork – please get in touch.
We received an email yesterday from a user based in Epinay sur Seine, France describing how he’s used bookleteer with his students:
My name is J.-Thomas Maillioux, and I’ve been working as the librarian for the collège Evariste Galois middle school since 2005. I’ve recently started to use the bookleteers to create “adventure books” for our first-year pupils’ library orientation program in a format both convenient and original. The flexibility of the Bookleteer publishing platform has also allowed me to quickly and easily implement the modifications suggested by my own observations, or advice from the students and teachers involved in the orientation program.
I’ve also been able to sit down with small group of students to discuss what they would do with the Bookleteers : they suggested uses both for school (custom booklets for note taking on school trips, tutorials or HOWTOs for specific activities in sciences and technology classes, reminders while giving presentations in front of a class) and home (grocery shopping, tasks listing, books and stories writing or games) that make me think that, with the correct amount of support from their teachers in acquiring and supporting the necessary skills, they should be able to make the Bookleteers and the publishing platform their own relatively quickly : a good way to reconcile them not only with the printed word, but also with their printed word – that what they write, too, can be and deserves being made into a book with very little hassle.
We’d love to hear more testimonials of how bookleteer, the eBooks and StoryCubes are being used – please send your feedback to us at bookleteer at proboscis.org.uk