To celebrate our new website design, we have compiled some of our favourite blog articles over the past year into a downloadable eBook in ePub format. The ePub format is specifically designed for viewing on mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and eReaders.
We created the eBook through a service called Readlists and then tidied up the formatting using the open source software Sigil. This method would not be ideal if creating an eBook from scratch but, in this instance, it worked extremely well by allowing us to quickly draw content together from unique blog pages. Our Readlist can be viewed through a browser, sent to a Kindle or iDevice or downloaded as an ePub. Additional integration with social media platforms allows the sharing of content with others.
The best Readlists “mash up” content from across the web in order to create new and coherent publications which is analogous to a mixtape for web content. Here are some examples:
- Early American History
- Collected essays about “The Wire” (the ground breaking HBO TV show)
- Pedagogy compendium
Readlists is not without its critics or controversy and a debate has emerged that is elegantly summarised on the .net website. Publishers and authors object to Readlists on the grounds that it is a potential violation of their copyright, as it allows their online content to be distributed and re-purposed without their permission. A further grievance is that the content is not being viewed in a way the authors would like and that it circumvents their own web pages. This includes web pages with advertisements which may be an important revenue stream for the website.
Proponents of Readlists argue that this problem is not new and is similarly encountered in RSS feed subscription services such as Google Reader, “read it later” tools such as Instapaper, digital curation platforms such as Pinterest, and reading apps such as Flipboard. According to this position, the content is liberated and the owners can no longer dictate where, when or how people consume online information. This is an interesting stance to take in a world where there are constant battles over ownership and control of digital assets.
The Readlist we compiled at ADFI, which is made-up of our favourite blog posts from the last twelve months, was derived from material that we created. That is, the content was created and owned by ADFI and then Readlists was used to redistribute the material as an eBook. When compiling collections of content from around the web, it might be worth using content that is known to be open through Creative Commons licencing, as a safeguard against copyright issues. In the meantime, we will watch how the debate around Readlists plays out.
Neil Martin, Learning Technologist
Image: Chotda, Bookshelf Spectrum, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic Licence