As I was finishing yester-hour’s post, I got to thinking. If blogs are such a great way to read texts, why not model an e-book after a blog? Why not make a blog book — a “blook”?
A couple reasons, actually. The first is that a book is a fundamentally different thing from a blog. As Scott Esposito has pointed out, you can’t just take a blog and make it into a book. Blogs are meant to be followed along day to day, not read from cover to cover like a book. And, typically, if you go back and read old entries, you’ll read them newest-to-oldest, instead of the other way around.
I had this problem with the vidsanity diary. If people found out about it after it was all over, they had to either read backwards or have a backwards experience of the event. I tried making a chronological post of the event afterwards, but this was unsatisfying because the original comments were lost, and there wasn’t space to interject comments along the way.
But what if the blog concept was applied to a book as a whole? How difficult would it be to take a public-domain work like, say, Huckleberry Finn, and post it like a blog? Instead of organizing the entries by date and posting them in reverse-chronological order, they could be numbered like chapters and posted chronologically. Then readers could comment individually on each chapter (or on smaller divisions if the chapters were longer than 5 or 6 pages), and experience the book in the order it was written.
Searching through the text would be a breeze, and the comments section would invite not only individual notes, but discussion about each chapter. There would be no problem comparing different chapters or parts of the book: just open up a new browser window or tab.
Another problem would be portability. The book could only be experienced where there was Web access. These days, that’s becoming less and less of a problem. Sure, I couldn’t take it with me on a hiking trip, but I could read it in bed on my laptop, probably more comfortably than a standard book, because the laptop stays open on its own. I’ve been through issues of screen legibility before, but given that I’m already comfortable reading online text for hours at a time, perhaps this isn’t as big of a problem as it seems.
I’d like to try such a project, as a sort of experiment to see if the experience of reading a book this way is as satisfying as (or perhaps more satisfying than) reading it on paper. I can get a text from project Gutenberg, then design a WordPress interface for it, and launch it as its own blog — I mean blook. It’d have to be a book I’ve never read before, so I that could consider the blook as its own experience, rather a second reading of a traditional book.
So, whaddya think? Could it work? Any suggestions for books to convert into a blook? Anything published before 1923 that I haven’t read should be fair game.