The Book that Can’t Wait or You Can’t Deal with My Infinite Nature, Can You?

There has been much discussion about the death of the printed word – books, magazines, postcards, letters – all of these are set for execution by the digital guillotine, although Mark Twain would probably say that the demise of print is greatly exaggerated. One interesting experiment has decided to have some fun with the traditional format of text.

In their demo video, Eterna Cadencia describes books as “patient” tools which operate on the schedule of the buyer rather than that of the author. “We buy them, and then they wait for us to read them. Days, months, even years. That’s OK for books, but not for new authors. If people don’t read their first books. They’ll never make it to a second.”

There are many stories about young and inexperienced authors becoming “overnight” successes on the Kindle platform because the barriers between authors and readers are being eliminated. Discovery of ebooks and new authors is a different animal than printed works, but this project aims not to just provide discovery, but wonder. Eterna Cadencia is not trying to make our physical books ephemeral with a unique disappearing ink. Rather it wants to makes us turn our heads and think. If we do, there are some interesting scenarios. Say you are a person who tends to read a lot of books, but only once. What do you do? The library is one option, or finding a book sharing buddy, or going whole hog into Amazon Prime’s Kindle ebook lending.

But maybe there is a market for nice looking, bound volumes. A welcome addition to the library of every Gatsby: something to show off. Isn’t there a greater purpose for a book than to be mounted as a trophy? Even once its secrets have been revealed, books are a hybrid of art and utility.

Those who enjoy journaling or writing notes by hand might really pay a premium to get a book with disappearing ink. It could double as a sketchbook, or a book of personal quotations, or a real life Path. The second act of the pages adds another type of resale value to the humble purchase of a novel.

Of course, a book printed with disappearing ink may raise some copyright and ownership issues. Would each book come with a special terms of service specifying the length of time a person has to read the text? Could the books be “recharged” after resale, creating a black market for book hackers? Could the book be repurposed into another book with fresh ink lining the pages with a new story?

Maybe paper books would become like Blue Rhino propane tanks, refilled at local bookstores and swapped out. Imagine if Netflix had rewritable DVDs and just burned the movies people requested rather than having a stock of movies to stuff into red envelopes.

12South has shown that there is a market for creating book-like experiences around our electronic devices. Moleskin notebooks remain popular as well. The physical connection between users and their media is far from dying out.

The permanence and persistence of the book survives in popular culture and in our lives. Some families have bibles that pass from one generation to the next. Others have old volumes of a grandparent (or more distant relative) which are inscribed with personal or historical notations. Amanda Katz discussed these ideas e-book inheritance over at NPR a few days ago, focusing on the concept of books passing up the branches of a family tree.

It’s popular now to advertise books printed on “acid-free paper” with “archival inks” to further cement the permanence of the purchase. If, as expected, printed books never go away entirely but become more niche, like the goodies that come with special editions of video games, or vinyl records. The books that are printed could become branded as “collector’s items” designed to last long enough to accrue value or simply to appease the tastes of the readers, eager to have a bookcase full of pages they can turn by hand.

Katz shares the story of her grandfather’s copy of The War of the Worlds passing through time, and the influence that book specifically had on his career in rocketry. It’s still in print, but having the copy that inspired her grandfather is not something available at every corner shop. Not every book passed on will have the same kind of impressive history, but it can still be a connection to the past.

Who knows, as people start to really enounter the problems with terms of service, digital locks, and non-transferable property (because many e-editions of content are not sales of good but licenses) the Intellectual Property Donor Card, or something similar, will take hold.

My great-grandfather immigrated from Italy in the early part of the last century. One thing he brought with him to America was his mother’s coffee maker. It’s not a book, but the idea is the same. I have a solid piece of metal that was making coffee in the 1800s.

I own two first editions of modern books (so they are not in any way, limited editions) but each was signed when I met the authors: Bill Clinton and David Ortiz. I skipped my final day of classes in college to meet the former President with some friends. That story will survive. Ortiz had a book signing while I worked at a Barnes and Noble shortly afterward. My work badge from the event is tucked into the cover. Ortiz signed it that morning and then crushed a home run against the Yankees in the game that night. Will my descendants remember any of this, and look to the past at specific moments in my life, not recorded on Foursquare or Facebook, but inked into paper? I don’t know. But I hope so.

A Roundup of OED Adjective Day

[View the story “OED Adjective Day #OEDAdjective” on Storify]

OED Adjective Day #OEDAdjective

The Oxford English Dictionary, @OEDOnline, asked followers on twitter to tweet their favorite under-used adjectives.

Storified by Mike Carlucci · Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:58:33

Nominate your favourite under-used adjective in a tweet using the hashtag #OEDadjectiveThe OED
As someone who keeps this on his desk for easy reference, naturally, I followed the #OEDAdjective hashtag intently.
Don’t leave home without itmikecarlucci
There were lots of great entries. I collected a number an pulled them together here, for easy reference and exploration, since twitter itself is an ephemeral resource. A few good words should avoid going back to the underused bin.
@OEDonline #OEDadjective perfunctoryBertrand L. Hasard
@OEDonline #OEDadjective – daft. Love it!!Dionne Nichols
@OEDonline I’m quite fond of "rebarbative". Only seen it much used in G. A. Cohen’s account of Karl Marx’s account of labour. #OEDadjectiveClaire
@OEDonline #oedadjective loquacious!Jacob A. Ratliff
Definition: 1) Talkative. 2) Of birds, water, etc: chattering, babbling. Chiefly poet. “@Gameronomist: @OEDonline #oedadjective loquacious!”The OED
@OEDonline rebarbative #OEDadjectiveYvonne Aburrow
This means repellent; unattractive; objectionable. “@vogelbeere: @OEDonline rebarbative #OEDadjective”The OED
@oedonline "glaucous" (bluish-green) and "numinous" #OEDadjectiveMwncïod
#OEDadjective the circumspect cat looked at the blinking headlights rushing at her and decided to catapult herself across to the other sideMahboob Ahmad
my pick for under-used adjective – Purplish #OEDadjectiveRahul Ricky
RT @tintiddle: @OEDonline nacreous: lustrous or pearly, often used of glass and clouds #OEDadjectiveThe OED
henotic #OEDadjectiveEric Hazard
Definition: tending to make one; unifying; reconciling, harmonizing. “@EricHazard: henotic #OEDadjective”The OED
@OEDonline Underused adjectives? "Shambolic," of course! Though "nebulous" is a close second. #OEDadjectiveHannah Herman
@OEDonline Obloquial – public blame or denunciation. #OEDadjectiveJeremy
.@OEDonline Callipygian #OEDadjectiveChristopher Akiki
Definition: of, pertaining to, or having well-shaped or finely developed buttocks. “@christopher: .@OEDonline Callipygian #OEDadjective”The OED
@brklib @oedonline fav under-used adjective: copasetic! #OEDadjectiveNicky Enriquez
@OEDonline Callow #OEDadjectiveVictoria Gausden
Avuncular RT @OEDonline: Nominate your favourite under-used adjective in a tweet using the hashtag #OEDadjectiveSeán Collins
@OEDonline discombobulated “disturbed, upset, disconcerted” #OEDadjectiveY Geiriadur
#OEDadjective most favourite under used adjective @OEDonline garrulous, talkative and out going.Serendipity Lovejoy
@OEDonline Favorite underused adjective? Definitely "antediluvian"! #OEDadjectiveSuchita Mandavilli
@OEDonline splenetic #OEDadjectiveEric Ware
@OEDonline Spiffy: Smart in appearance or dress; stylish #OEDadjectiveFiona Plunkett
Selcouth – unusual, strange #OEDadjectiveMike Carlucci
Selcouth can also mean marvellous or wonderful. “@mikecarlucci: Selcouth – unusual, strange #OEDadjective”The OED
@OEDonline Obumbrate. Also, flocculent. #OEDadjectiveNathan Ramsden
@OEDonline lambent #OEDadjectiveMacKenzie M. Outlund
@OEDonline #OEDadjective I just remembered an even better one. Tumultuous is often overlooked but such a tempestuous word. :)Fiona Plunkett
Underused adjective: Jentacular: of or relating to breakfast. #OEDadjectiveCarl Staniforth
@OEDonline crepuscular #OEDadjectiveChris ‘CTOP’
Definition: of or pertaining to twilight. “@Chris_CTOP: @OEDonline crepuscular #OEDadjective”The OED
@OEDonline Under-used adjectives: egregious. #OEDadjectiveGeoff Davis
@OEDonline. Mithering #OEDadjectiveGordon James
saturnalian #OEDadjectivehero fukutu
@oedonline mellifluous #OEDadjectiveJohn Racine
Garrulous @OEDonline #OEDadjectiveMarisa Sanders
Matutinal: of or related to morning. #OEDadjectiveBen Sisario
Marvellous adjective! “@sisario: Matutinal: of or related to morning. #OEDadjective”The OED
#OEDadjective Concupiscent. (Thank you Wallace Stevens.)James Callan
Thank you for sending in such mirabundous under-used adjectives! #OEDadjective (Mirabundous: obsolete adj. meaning wonderful.)The OED
@OEDonline I spent a train journey looking for a good word to describe the smell emanating from a fellow passenger. Mephitic? #OEDadjectiveHelen
@OEDonline allochthonous! #OEDadjectiveKara Woo
"Struthious" Quite useful for describing a certain type of long-necked, angular person. #OEDadjectiveRide Theory
Definition: resembling an ostrich MT @ridetheory Struthious: useful for describing a long-necked, angular person. #OEDadjective”The OED
Also, crepuscular. RT @shepherd_book #OEDadjective crapulous, and the associated crapulent. Not what they sound like.Elizabeth Rambo
#OEDadjective – rebarbativeNasser Hussain

The Red Sox Shuffle : Kevin Youkilis, Will Middlebrooks, and Daniel Bard

When Terry Francona was manager, he usually pointed out that worrying about the bench and pinch hitters wasn’t a big concern for the Red Sox because the front office had built an everyday lineup. Players were responsible for one position, with a little background in another for the occasional “banged up” guy who avoided the disabled list by sitting out for six or seven days. He never imagined the type of injuries that would follow the Red Sox from Spring Training forward in 2012. Now that Alfredo Aceves has locked down the closer job, at least until Andrew Bailey returns,, the two players who are still, possibly, in flux as to their position going forward: Daniel Bard and Kevin Youkilis.

The Bard

One of the most surprising storylines of the past offseason was the plan to move Daniel Bard, heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon, from the closer line of succession and into the starting rotation. There were views taken on both sides: Bard was not particularly impressive as a starter after first signing with the Red Sox but was lights out as a reliever and Bard as a even a 3/4/5 starter would be more valuable over 200 innings per season than as a closer or setup guy pitching at most 80 innings each year. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe was ready to end the Bard experiment a few weeks ago. At the time, I wholeheartedly disagreed. Bard’s work in relief was brilliant: in 197 innings between 2009 and 2011 Bard struck out 213 batters, surrendered 76 walks of the unintentional variety, and gave up just 132 hits.

If even half of that stuff could follow him into the starting rotation the impact would have been huge. I hoped the Red Sox would stick with Bard as long as it took to find out if he could be a starter. While the Red Sox continued to send Bard out for the first inning, the wheels eventually fell off, and the car rolled all the way down a cliff into a ditch. On June 3rd against the Blue Jays, Bard lasted just 1.2 innings. While recording five outs Bard walked 6, hit 2, and allowed 5 runs. It took 55 pitches – nearly half as many as he normally threw over five or six inning outings, even those (most of them) where Bard wasn’t exactly sharp.

And so Daniel Bard was returned to the minors. The Red Sox were committed to the experiment. After all, Bard had just 55.0 MLB innings as a starter under his belt. On June 8th, Bard made his first minor league start. It could have gone better: 1.0 inning, 3 runs (but 2 Ks). After this outing, the Sox, still committed to Bard as a starter, decided to shake things up: he would continue to build back to a starter’s workload through relief outings. Returning Bard to the kind of outings he succeeded in the past seems to have worked. In his next five innings for the PawSox Bard gave up just 1 run and 2 walks while striking out 6.

At the moment, the Red Sox are still committed to bringing Bard back to the Majors as a starting pitcher, but nothing is written in stone. Daisuke Matsuzaka is back, Aaron Cook isn’t far behind, and the Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in Cubs’ starters Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Should any of these have success – either on field or via acquisition – the Sox could easily return Bard to the bullpen and have a deep back-of-the-pen including Aceves, Bailey, Melancon, and Bard. If the Red Sox can win a few more games on the back of a starting rotation that keeps the team competitive, that is a playoff-caliber bullpen.

Whether or not Bard makes another start, getting him back on track is the key. Right now, it looks like the trip to the minors is just what the doctor ordered.

Stuck in the Middlebrooks with Youk

Will Middlebrooks has played well enough to warrant a starting job on a Major League team. A .289/.328/.484 line with 7 home runs and a quality glove at third base is nothing to sneeze at. Despite being the youngest, least experienced, player of the bunch, Middlebrooks has stayed at third base while Adrian Gonzalez has played right field, allowing Kevin Youkilis to man first. It’s not ideal, but everyone is getting at bats.

The problem is that Youkilis is mired in a slump: .215/.301/.314 on the season and .211/.309/.338 since returning from the disabled list. It doesn’t matter how many teams Ben Charrington talks to about the veteran third baseman, a slumping player coming off tough injuries is not an easy sell.

However, Ken Rosenthal, the expert on knowing where players are going, hears that the end is in fact near for Youkilis. An official with a National League team told Rosenthal that the Greek God of Walks is “being shopped everywhere.” Among the leaders are the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Pirates in the National League and the White Sox and Indians in the American League. The demand is there, the price is probably low, although that doesn’t mean the Red Sox won’t get a decent player of some type in return if they pick up some salary, and the replacement is in-house. This is a combination of factors not often present when a trade is rumored or, in fact, imminent.

Where do they go from here?

Fourth place. At least. The Toronto Blue Jays have lost three starters in the past week – one has already undergone Tommy John surgery, ending his season. If Ellsbury, Crawford, and Bailey can contribute at anything close to their ability, Clay Buchholz avoids Logan Morrison, and Ryan Kalish is healthy, the Red Sox have the ability to field a dramatically better team in the second half. And that doesn’t include Adrian Gonzalez breaking out of his season-long slump. The bottom has likely already passed, even if it hasn’t been reflected in the win column.

Arizona Man Sues Google Over Trademark

Since the days of Napster there have been stories about copyright infringement on the internet. Reports of piracy, torrents, using images and photographs without permission are commonplace. Trademark news is less so, but an Arizona man has decided to battle Google over the rights to their name.

Jeff John Roberts over at paidContent reports that David Elliot is looking for a court to decide that “google” has become a generic word for “search on the internet.” Elliot isn’t fighting the good fight against a large corporation for the right to use an invented word for the greater good, but to overturn a court decision he lost concerning a number of domain names including “googlegaycruises.com” and “googledonaldtrump.com.” The full complaint is available here.

Trademarks, unlike copyrights and patents, do not have an expiration date. A number of trademarks have become generic words over time: escalator, thermos, and aspirin are popular examples of products whose names were once tied to their originating companies. A trademark that is distinctive can become generic if it does not solely relate to the products produced by the trademark owner. Once other moving staircases were created, customers referred to all of them as escalators rather than only those made by Otis Elevator Company. The power of a trademark is in the minds of customers.

Once other moving staircases were created customers referred to all of them as escalators rather than only those made by Otis Elevator Company.

To win his case, Elliot would need to show that when people say the word “google” they mean to look something up in a search engine, whether that is Google, Bing, Blekko, or DuckDuckGo. If people “google” at the website known for a white background and unique celebrations in the images above its search box, Elliot will have a tough time proving that Google is a generic term.

The Future of Computing or Why I Can’t Wait for the Successor to the iPad

It didn’t happen overnight, but the revolution in computing is on the cusp of taking a very big step forward. The transformation in the way we access data and how we interact with machines has been rapid since the release of the first iPhone. The iPad, and competing Android and WebOS tablets, in addition to smartphones, has, to paraphrase an HP commercial, made computing personal. 

My iPad is the 16GB Wi-Fi model. So far, I have not found this amount of storage to be an issue, despite owning several USB hard drives with backups of files going back to the 286 IBM PS/1. There is plenty of room for my apps, some music, podcasts, books, and PDFs (or other “documents” that do not fit neatly into the iOS “no file” file system), and there is still enough room to add a couple of movies should I decide to take my life offline but keep 90% of the iPad experience in tact.

What surprised me is that this is exactly how I used to view my laptop.

One of my most ambitious projects over the past few years, an attempt to initially justify the purchase of the iPad, was scanning in my law school textbooks. Rather than haul a medium sized dog worth of books with me to class every day, I could put the iPad and a notebook into my backpack and hop on the train. I hadn’t had a backpack that light since elementary school. 

This was my first step to really letting the iPad work its way into my life. While I still needed the physical textbooks to create crude electronic versions, at the end of the semester I could resell the books in nearly perfect condition, (or the condition I purchased it in for used books) hit delete on the my digital copy, and be nearly where I started out, aside from the hours it took to scan 1000 page tomes.

The Pain Points

Many days of laptop-free living can change a person. The amount I was able to do on the iPad made me wish I could skip right to the fourth, seventh, or ninth generation model that will be a true tablet computer. Maybe with Star Trek-level Siri support. Right now though, there are a few weaknesses that keep me coming back to my trusty laptop.

Multi-tasking? It doesn’t exist yet outside of traditional computers. iOS has a form of it, Android has a more robust implementation, but neither one gives the user the same experience as using a laptop or desktop. Multi-tasking audio and text or pictures is great, but that’s about as far as it goes for current tablets and smartphones.

Even the first generation of Chromebooks, Google’s cloud connected netbooks, which are still really laptops, lacked something as essential to computers since the adoption of the GUI over the command line: windows.1 This has since been remedied: the new ChromeOS looks like a cross between the Windows 7 task bar and the OS X Launchpad.

Doing multi-tasking right is still a very complicated problem for mobile devices. It’s possible our definition of multi-tasking will need to change to accommodate the new class of devices.

Tablet computers are lighter both in specs and in weight.  Apple can make iOS devices seem fast because they run one app at a time and use flash memory instead of a spinning disc, and can take a few disguised shortcuts. At the moment, even netbooks are still a decent step up in terms of raw processing power. A $500 laptop is much more capable than the iPad but it will probably never feel “faster” to the user.

This will become less of an issue over time as mobile processers get more powerful, but right now every company promising multitasking is giving only what they think customers really need to get by to prevent any major performance hits.

The second problem is tougher: where to put the keyboard. Unlike the cables in the Uppleva, the keyboard is not “gone, never to be seen again.” It’s always showing up. On top of your app. Because software keyboards use the same real estate as the display there isn’t a lot of room for two windows to be opened simultaneously and a decently sized typing surface.

Yes, external keyboards can eliminate this but what about controlling the display? Reaching up to touch the screen to scroll a website or twitter app that is opened while you also type in a word processing window is clumsy at best. Apple has always used this as the reason their traditional computers don’t have touch screens, offering the Magic Trackpad as a more natural way for our arms and hands to do gestures while typing. Some have suggested “computers” will simply become large tabletop screens – your entire desk will be usable as a rotating display.

Built-in laser keyboards?  Maybe. Or a backtyping keyboard that catches on? They might be the answer someday, though underside typing may take some getting used to.

Apple has a big lead in the current tablet incarnation, but the door is open for the a company to make the next leap forward cut the distance between a tablet and a laptop in half once more.

1. While I was initially in the “why do we want full screen apps on our computers” camp regarding OS X Lion, the new implementation of spaces and gestures between desktops has won me over. iTunes, great as full screen because I’m always doing something else. iPhoto, it’s ok. Calendar? Well, that one I’d prefer the traditional windowing experience, but it’s nice to have the option, particularly with the four-fingered swipe.