Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The book is out!

At last, the book e-Content: a European Outlook has been published. Today I received copies of the book from the publisher. Excitement: unpacking the parcel, leafing through the pages, smelling the ink. The book is there. It is hard to believe, but it is a book about new media; yes, would you believe, a traditional information carrier. However, the core of the book was published first on Internet in the framework of the EU funded ACTeN project.

The book has a history. The ACTeN project was in September 2003 one year on its way. The project was successful. The European partners worked according to schedule and produced an annual conference, Business Round Tables all over Europe, Summer Schools and a monthly newsletter. So one was busy, but the work did not yield real insight. So at the annual meeting in Bratislava, we decided to start publishing the e-Content Reports. We started formulating topics and the format:
- Scientific Publishing;
- Paid Content
- Digital Media Services
- Online Storytelling
- E-Learning
- Interactive Digital TV
- Cross Media
- Experience Machines.
I wrote two reports. But to me, the chapter on Experience machines, written by Dr Peter Werkhoven, was one of the really exciting reports. It is an agenda for the future.

The reports were well received and consulted on the Internet. They were mentioned in various publications and were used in colleges. This brought the project manger, MFG in Stuttgart to suggest a publication of the reports. Springer publishers were approached and a deal was closed. The production did not go according to schedule as one report had to be replaced, the other reports had to be updated and an introduction and epilogue had to be written. However leaving through the book, it has become a very interesting book. The introduction defines e-Content very precisely, while the last chapter ponder over the prospects of e-content in Europe. Also a chapter on usability was added as well as a resource guide.

The publishers’ recommendation reads: “Technologies develop rapidly and reach hurricane levels of velocity but quality E-Content and innovative applications lag behind. This book addresses the question how content industries change within a digital environment and what role information and communication technologies play in transforming the competitive landscape. The authors argue that post-industrial societies tend to pay substantial amounts for equipment and gadgets but invest far too little in the quality of the content. As a result, much effort is and has to be spent on the enhancement of E-Content.”

Now the table of contents is:
• Introduction
• E-Content in Europe - Dimensions of an Emerging Field
• The State of Digital Media Service Business
• Paid Content – From Free to Fee
• The Impact of E-Learning
• Scientific Publishing – A European Strength
• Mobile Games – An Emerging Content Business Area
• Cross-Media on the Advance
• Interactive Digital Television in Europe
• The Usability Factor – Improving the Quality of E-Content
• Experience Machines – Capturing and Retrieving Personal Content
• Prospects of E-Content in Europe
• A Guide to European Initiatives and Resources in E-Content.

So 8 months after the close of the ACTeN project, the book has been published. For some of the authors the book is a recommendation in their academic fight to publish or perish. For the other authors their chapter is a statement on content. For readers it is an interesting book to deal with a range on content issues. It is a pity that the project ACTeN is finished, according to its agreement. Yet this type of book should be published annually to get an update on the interesting world of content.

Oh well, I start packing copies for my friends in Finland, France, Bahrain, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Romania, Germany and Italy.

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