April 30, 2010


  1. This is a fantastic post, and I’ll be sharing it far and wide. Thank you! You’ve given me, as usual, a lot to think about. I keep re-reading :-)

    Comment by Jen Waller — April 30, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  2. I was just able to , using Stanza, copy and email a text clipping from a Project Gutenberg edition of Flatland on my iPhone. It’s not the OS. It may be the app, or it may be the DRM attached to individual items.

    Comment by Jason — April 30, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  3. Thanks, Jen!
    Jason, Stanza does have a little more flexibility on the iPhone (it would be interesting to know how it works on the iPad), but I’m also referring to Apple’s overall approach, which is completely closed. Have you been able to add any software to your iPhone that wasn’t pre-approved by Apple and didn’t come through iTunes? If your iPhone works for you, great, but I don’t want my online experiences shaped only by Apple. YMMV.

    Comment by jenny — April 30, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  4. […] Posted on April 30, 2010 by mkschoen Lots, lots lots to think about here: The Shifted Librarian->Broken Boxes […]

    Pingback by | A font of useless information — April 30, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  5. Great post! Makes one think, especially after reading Apple’s “explanation” of why they do not support Flash.

    Comment by Kate — April 30, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  6. As an information management student I found this post very thought provoking and am looking forward to following up some of the links/books you mentioned

    Comment by Vanessa — April 30, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  7. Wow! Making me think, as always–and opening up new connections to things I haddn’t read. Thanks, Jenny!
    As for getting software on the iPhone that wasn’t pre-approved by Apple and didn’t come through iTunes, sure! HTML 5 can do this–and already does. For example, Ibis Reader, http://ibisreader.com/, is a great webapp which you can install by bookmarking the page; since it uses HTML 5, you can then use it offline, too.

    Comment by Jodi Schneider — April 30, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  8. I would say it’s one of the best article I have ever read this year!

    Comment by Lily — April 30, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  9. Thank you for taking the time to construct an extended, and very interesting, text today.

    Comment by CarisseB — April 30, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

  10. Great post; thanks. Yes, apple locks down the apps available through iTunes, but web apps are getting more and more interesting; and they are pushing what’s possible for web apps in a very open way through their support of webkit and HTML 5.

    Comment by gregor — May 1, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  11. Commonplace Books either feed into or grow out of the Renaissance interest in magic and Hermeticism and alchemy. There was a common belief that the act of writing out a quotation from a book helped fix that idea in your spirit and mind. You are right to compare Will’s insight to the commonplace book, but a digital commonplace book is at least one step less effective than a paper one (and I built a rolling “bamboo book” out of embroidery thread and Popsicle sticks once) because the handwriting carries the idea from eye through brain to hand to paper.
    I’ll continue to keep my CP books on paper for the moment eventh though iBooks, Stanza and the Kindle app all help me read more.
    Another exercise for those who keep CP books is to choose 7 sentences, and transfer them again to index cards. Then use each sentence as a subject of meditation for a day, for a week. It helps ideas to percolate deeply… Something the Internet does not teach us to do well.

    Comment by Andrew B. Watt — May 1, 2010 @ 4:36 am

  12. Thanks for the comments, everyone. The HTML 5 angle is a great one, but it’s almost incidental to Apple. The good news is that it will finally open up the iPhone, but compare that approach with Palm’s where I have two icons on my phone and a Java program on my laptop just for downloading apps from unofficial catalogs that Palm hasn’t approved (but condones). I also have 39 non-Palm patches from those catalogs that make my phone better than it is out of the box. Personally, I’ll take the latter, open approach over the “we know what’s best for you” one every time.
    Andrew, I like the 7-sentence idea. Amazon has an interesting “daily refresh” feature for Kindle owners that could help with that process. I need to post about that, too. Thanks for adding more details about CP books.

    Comment by jenny — May 1, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  13. […] as the notion of commonplace texts discussed in Jenny Levine’s brilliant April 30 blog post, “Broken Boxes”, and the possibilities for a shared social reading experience that are informed by my previous study […]

    Pingback by I Begin a New Chapter in My Life as a Reader « The Unquiet Librarian — May 4, 2010 @ 10:19 pm

  14. On my iPad, I was able to cut and paste from an iBooks copy of a Hans Christian Andersen collection into an email, and into Notes. It’s not iBooks or Apple that is preventing you from copying, it’s whoever created the iBook you are trying to copy from, in this case Penguin. Just like with PDFs, the creator of the document can choose whether or not to allow copying.
    The app store is indeed closed, but that is why there have been no iPhone viruses on non-jailbroken iPhones thus far. It’s a tradeoff, and both ways of doing things – the open and the closed – have their benefits. On a recent episode of the Security Now podcast with Steve Gibson, he describes the situation this way:
    “Thus, taking Apple’s just-released iPad as an example, while we cannot possibly say today that the iPad – a three-week-old product when we’re recording this podcast – is secure because by definition that can ONLY be proven over time, we can definitely state that the iPad’s fundamental design, by virtue of the deliberate and often infuriating and disappointing limitations that were designed into it from the start, make it as a platform not only fundamentally more secure, but also fundamentally more securable. ”
    Read or listen to the rest here if you’re interested: http://twit.tv/sn245

    Comment by Erika — May 5, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  15. Erika, my Palm Pre is about as open as a system can get, and it hasn’t been affected by any viruses. If that was a primary motivation for users, we’d all be living in AOL’s walled garden, but we don’t because we prefer the open web. Linux systems are even more secure than Macs, but we don’t see users flocking to the OS because of its security features.
    Apple had a three-year head start with the iPhone, but now Android phones are well on their way to catching up. Apple will have, at best, a three-month lead with the iPad before we start seeing comparable open tablets. At that point, we’ll find out if more people prefer closed systems like Apple’s or open ones like Google’s. I never thought I’d sit in a Google camp, but if the choice is between Steve Jobs controlling my apps and interfaces or me doing it, I’m choosing the open internet every time.

    Comment by jenny — May 9, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  16. Just going back and re-reading this great post, Jenny, and that last comment caught me: How’s that 3 month lead on the iPad looking now?

    Comment by Jason Griffey — September 8, 2010 @ 10:49 am

  17. Duuuuuude, have you SEEN the list of Android tablets about to hit? (Rhetorical question, I know you have.) It’s freaking choice overload. My big problem now will be waiting for the dust to settle a bit (which is one reason I went ahead and ordered a Kindle 3 this week).
    I’ll admit three months was a bit ambitious, but I’m willing to live with being off by three months. Overall, I’m confident my prediction that tablets running open systems will overtake the iPad’s closed system much faster than Android handsets have overtaken the iPhone (three years).
    And as long as we’re talking about leads, I’m sure you saw this, too.
    I <3 our debates. :)

    Comment by jenny — September 8, 2010 @ 10:26 pm

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