I have over 100 university and work books that are cluttering up my overflowing bookshelves and that I rarely use, but which I am reluctant to get rid of entirely because in some sense they represent me, and what I am and where I’ve been. For many years I’ve had the notion that this conundrum might be resolved by taking a roll of E-Paper, placing it on a wall, displaying images of shelving and book spines, and being able to touch an item on the shelf and have it displayed on a local screen (The Electronic Bookshelf – summary of the idea).
A few days ago, after finishing the Digital Age Artefacts IV paper and getting up to date with the family photos (a big job which included many wedding photos), I decided to track down all the remaining hardcopy items recorded in my Job Document index and scan them. This included some old copies of ‘Mac Times’ and of ‘Creativity and Innovation Network’ stored in a box in the loft; and also some books and binders on my bookshelf. Tackling the items on the bookshelf prompted me to sort out the books so that the ones I envisaged being used in the Electronic Bookshelf exercise were all together. It was while I was doing this that a couple of the insights I had had in the course of the Digital Age Artefacts work came into play. Specifically, that I wouldn’t want to get rid of hardcopy which contained my own writings, or writings of people I knew, or which were significant publications by organisations I had worked for. While assembling those groups of items together, another category became apparent; I realised I wouldn’t want to dispose of those books which I had used extensively in my work. The bookshelf sort soon became a full-blooded re-organisation with the net result that I have now identified all the books that I’ll use for the Electronic Bookshelf work and placed them into appropriate groups.
There’s two more pieces of preliminary work to be done: first, about 20 of the books have been catalogued in my Job Documents index as PAW/BKS items, and I need to decide whether they will remain untouched as an integral part of the set of Job Documents material, or whether to separate them off thereby making them available for the Electronic Bookshelf experiment (which will entail destroying them in order to scan them). Second, a few of the books don’t have title and author information on the spines – information that is highly relevant to the Electronic Bookshelf experiment. Some of these items clearly belonged to the PAW/DOC set of material so I dealt with them by scanning them and placing the scanned versions in the Document Management System, and destroying the paper (they were the proceedings of a 1991 workshop on CSCW in Berlin; and four booklets produced by the UK DTI ‘Usability Now’ initiative in the early 1990s – a directory of HCI Tools and Methods, a booklet on HCI standards; a directory of HCI Training; and a directory of HCI practitioners). For the remainder, I may investigate attaching spine information in some way or other.
Having made a start on the electronic bookshelf work, I think the next stage is to do a quick internet search for related work and for people who might be interested in collaborating with me on this particular journey.