the future of the institute 09.27.2005, 5:36 PM
posted by bob stein
lately i've been thinking about how the institute for the future of the book should be experimental in form as well as content - an organization whose work, when appropriate, is carried out in real time in a relatively public forum. one of the key themes of our first year has been the way a network adds value to an enterprise, whether that be a thought experiment, an attempt to create a collective memory, a curated archive of best practices, or a blog that gathers and processes the world around it. i sense we are feeling our way to new methods of organizing work and distributing the results, and i want to figure out ways to make that aspect of our effort more transparent, more available to the world. this probably calls for a reevaluation of (or a re-acquaintance with) our idea of what an institute actually is, or should be.
the university-based institute arose in the age of print. scholars gathering together to make headway in a particular area of inquiry wrote papers, edited journals, held symposia and printed books of the proceedings. if books are what humans have used to move big ideas around, institutes arose to focus attention on particular big ideas and to distribute the result of that attention, mostly via print. now, as the medium shifts from printed page to networked screen, the organization and methods of "institutes" will change as well.
how they will change is what we hope to find out, and in some small way, influence. so over the next year or so we'll be trying out a variety of different approaches to presenting our work, and new ways of facilitating debate and discussion. hopefully, we'll draw some of you in along the way.
here's a first try. we've decided (see thinking out loud) to initiate a weekly discussion at the institute where we read a book (or article or....) and then have a no-holds discussion about it -- hoping to at least begin to understand some of the first order questions about what we are doing and how it fits into our perspectives on society. mostly we're hoping to get to a place where we are regularly asking these questions in our work (whether designing software, studying the web, holding a symposium, or encouraging new publishing projects), measuring technological developments against a sense of what kind of society we'd like to live in and how a particular technology might help or hinder our getting there.
the first discussion is focused on neil postman's "Building a Bridge to the 18th Century." following is the audio we recorded broken into annotated chapters. we would be interested in getting people's feedback on both form and content. (jump to the discussion)
Posted by bob stein on September 27, 2005 5:36 PM
tags: Online, Thought Experiments, book, books, culture, digital, ebook, future, ideas, institute, literature, politics, publishing, reading, society, technology, web
Gary Frost on October 3, 2005 9:33 PM:
One way to validate the FotB insitute is to remember that it has a manifesto already posted. This statement points to the well established functionality of the print book only to conclude that "all this is changing".
I find this positioning curious. Change in communication is more likely to augment or interface with established modes. ...er, like oratory and teleprompting. The Institute is too nebulous if it is just doing "changes".