Electronic Device Stirs Unease at BookExpo

The Kindle has publishers worried that Amazon will use the popularity of the device to drive down prices. I, on the other hand, don’t share that concern. Also, good data in this article pointing to real growth in the electronic book segment of the industry.

Nearly all publishers say their sales of electronic books are growing exponentially. Carolyn K. Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said its sales of electronic books will more than double this year compared to last year, after growing 40 percent in 2007 from 2006. David Shanks, the chief executive of Penguin Group USA, said his company sold more electronic books in the first four months of 2008 than in all of last year.

[From Electronic Device Stirs Unease at BookExpo – NYTimes.com]

What Did Happen to UI Consistency?

Although I rather like Windows Vista — I think the amount of Vista nerd rage out there is completely unwarranted — there are areas of Vista I find hugely disappointing. And for my money, nothing is more disapponting than the overall fit and finish of Vista, which is truly abysmal. It’s arguably the worst of any operating system Microsoft has ever released.

[From Coding Horror: Whatever Happened to UI Consistency?]

I am using MS Office on my Mac and one of the things that I find really irritating is that the preferences panel in Word, Powerpoint, and Excel are all dramatically different. Granted they have wildly different application functions which drives preferences but to do something as simple as set the default file format for saving documents one would think they could just adopt a single unified approach.

Here’s a rundown on the 3 main apps and setting the default file format. Interestingly, I had to do this because I was tired of people emailing me to tell me they could not “open that pptx file” and lacking any awareness of why I need the new file formats I just switched back to the old ones.

Click on the Save panel in Word “output and sharing”:


Save button in Powerpoint, which isn’t that much different from Word, but it is a really different layout:


And my favorite, the Compatibility panel under “Sharing and Privacy” in Excel because the Save panel doesn’t actually have save file format options. Also note that the other apps have compatibility options but in both Word and Powerpoint they are completely different options than in Excel:


Conversations vs. Comments

The issue of comment fragmentation has been rearing up every other week or so since the initial discussion flared up in early April, but of late, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of comments in the first place. When you make a comment on a blog, is it to respond to the blog author and say they did a good job, especially if comments are currency, effectively making a longer version of a “thumbs up or thumbs down,” are you looking to further the conversation with the blogger, or are you instead using it as a reply, without anticipating a response from the author?

[From louisgray.com: Are Blog Comments Really Conversations, or Are They Just Replies?]

Are blog comments conversations? In one sense absolutely, but I think we’re at risk of missing a bigger picture here in that comments are one element of conversation.

Comment replacement systems, such as Intense Debate and Disqus, provide a better mouse trap than what is the default in blogging platforms, but if all you want is comment threading there are plugins that can do that without the overhead of calling another service.

By mixing identity with reputation and comment tracking these services offer the promise of something more than just better comments. It’s still not enough in order to be more than inline conversation.

What I want is discovery of related content around comments. To be able to capture non-linked content sources (including comments, which reside on their own unique URIs) I can then satisfy the bigger picture promise that the blogosphere holds, the ability to know the unknowable.