September 2, 2009

Welcome to HotBook!  The title is both an acronym for “History Of The Book,” and–at least in my mind–a good descriptor for a field of study that blurs disciplinary boundaries, begins to break down barriers between the Ivory Tower and the rest of the world, and begs us to make cross-cultural AND cross-historical comparisons.  Yes, Book History is hot!

This is the course blog for History of the Book:  Literacy, Technology, Culture, also known as English 5080:  Topics in Cross-Disciplinary and Cultural Studies at Wayne State University.  Why a blog?  The university mandated course management software, Blackboard, is behind closed doors.  That’s useful at times.  It protects the privacy of students, preserves the intellectual property of the instructor (if s/he is worried about that), and allows for the sharing of documents in a way that complies with at least a liberal understanding of fair use and copyright.  On the other hand, this is an open site, meant to be shared with other scholars and students around the world.  It’s my contribution to the pedagogy of Book History. Students are encouraged to post comments here, but it is not required.  Other interested readers are also welcome to comment.  I actively seek constructive criticism.

Note a list of blog pages to the right:  “About” contains the course description; “Schedule” the syllabus of readings, due dates and the sites for the “State of the Web” Reports; “Assignments” provides info on grading and sub-pages with instructions; “Student Blogs” gives links to both open and closed student blogs.

Under “links” column, the link called HotB links takes you to the course PageFlake, which contains lists of other websites of interest (both a static list and my Delicious account), feeds for the Book history blogs I follow, a window onto my Twitter communication, and other fun stuff.   Follow up on any of these resources to discover the latest issues–historic, academic and/or popular–emerging from the intersection of the literacy, technology, and culture.

And please–feel free to suggest new links, resources, etc.  This is meant to be a dynamic resource.


One comment

  1. I like the idea of this HotBook. It’s a common ground, or launching pad, where we can all meet or go our separate ways. Should we consider this a book as well? We talked about the commonplace book in our first class. A shared thing that has an existence outside of the people that contribute to it. This is similar to that, but something more as well.

    After all, there are more than people contributing to this site. The servers are auto-archiving the posts, RSS feeds are being pulled and updated by an unseen hand, bots are crawling the pages and indexing the contents for their search engine masters. These things have been set in motion by human hands, but they do have a life of their own.

    Perhaps, it’s like a living document, but I mean that in a more literal sense. Some say that the Constitution is a living document because it continues to be reinterpreted in the light of contemporary issues and developments. This is more alive because it actually grows and changes itself. It lives much as the Constitution does, but it’s life also extends by actions of its own rather than by actions imposed upon it.

    So, is it still a book? Or is it something more than a book? Or does it simply raise the bar for what we should expect of books? We would have to evaluate the contributions of what limited intelligence the servers have to answer these questions. If the servers are not real players, perhaps this is simply a commonplace book after all. If they are, and they are considered equal to their human counterparts, then this would still be a book. But, if they are players, but their part is given greater weight than “ours”, maybe this is not a book, but something more. What would you call a book that literally has a mind of its own? My suggestion: pneumagraph.

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