Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Information textbooks

In the wee small hours this morning I heard "Digital Planet" on the BBC World Service (excellent geek listening!) and they featured something called "Information textbooks".  At first I was "set to stunned" and only vaguely listening because I had assumed it was some sort of e-book thing.  Well, turns out it is and it isn't.  It got me to thinking how much the world has changed.

For those too lazy to click the link yet, an extract;
"Intelligent books are different, because the information they present is only partly composed by the authors: most of an intelligent book is dynamically constructed and accumulated through conversations with its readers. More concretely, an intelligent book understands the principles and strategies of the subject matter, and uses those to answer questions, to fill in details, and to accumulate new examples as suggested by the conversations with its readers."

This is subtly but significantly different from both Wikkipedia and from e-books.  I thought how clever and potentially useful this could be for students and for research in general.  It is a bit like then I have seen notes in Library books or review slips which they sometimes put in, but it is also so much more with the way it can dynamically link in from many sources.  Truly this must make a text book "come alive" for the reader!