Anthologize: plugin exports WordPress blogs as ebooks

Paul Raven @ 04-08-2010

Here’s a heads-up for fellow webzine editors and publishers, fiction writers publishing their own work online, and other interested (or indeed interesting) parties: the Anthologize plugin for WordPress generates EPUB, PDF and “other mobile formats” from content stored on the blog in which it is installed. Dan Cohen, head of the team that produced it (in just a week, no less, using a funding grant from the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University) explains in a bit more detail:

[This plugin] converts the popular open-source WordPress system into a full-fledged book-production platform. Using Anthologize, you can take online content such as blogs, feeds, and images (and soon multimedia), and organize it, edit it, and export it into a variety of modern formats that will work on multiple devices. Have a poetry blog? Anthologize it into a nice-looking ePub ebook and distribute it to iPads the world over. A museum with an RSS feed of the best items from your collection? Anthologize it into a coffee table book. Have a group blog on a historical subject? Anthologize the best pieces quarterly into a print or e-journal, or archive it in TEI.

[…]

I suspect there will be many users and uses for Anthologize, and developers can extend the software to work in different environments and for different purposes. I see the tool as part of a wave of “reading 2.0″ software that I’ve come to rely on for packaging online content for long-form consumption and distribution, including the Readability browser plugin and Instapaper. This class of software is particularly important for the humanities, which remains very bookish, but it is broadly applicable. Anthologize is flexible enough to handle different genres of writing and content, opening up new possibilities for scholarly communication.

So, obviously intended for a userbase of humanities academics, but this could be a real kick-start for us fiction webzine types to start reaching out to the ereader audiences on a webzine budget*. All I need now is a few extra hours in every day of the week to investigate it further… *sigh*

Hopefully some smart people will retool it for some of the other open-source CMS platforms as well. I could very easily and quickly find a use for a ModX version….

[ Hat-tip to Alex “Xander” Ingram, Third Row Fandom’s in-house ebooks boffin. Big up yerself, Xander, and thanks for the notification. 🙂 ]

[ * Webzine budget (compound noun, colloquial) – (1): small change and used paperclips. ]


NeuroLitCrit

Paul Raven @ 12-04-2010

As part of our seemingly ongoing (though erratic) series of posts with “neuro” in the title, here’s The Guardian on a new bridge discipline between the arts and the sciences: neuro lit crit.

Later this year a group of 12 students in New England will be given a series of specially designed texts to read. Then they will be loaded into a hospital MRI machine and their brains scanned to map their neurological responses.

The scans produced will measure blood flow to the firing synapses of their brain cells, allowing a united team of scientists and literature professors to study how and why human beings respond to complex fiction such as the works of Marcel Proust, Henry James or Virginia Woolf.

What, no sf titles? Surely – if you’re going to engage in such an inherently postmodern activity as neuro lit crit in the first place – you might as well go fully meta, and examine the brain activity of people reading fiction that discusses the science of brain activity…

And here’s another researcher, co-opting literary criticism in the name of advancing that insidious atheistic baby-eating Communo-Darwinist agenda I keep hearing so much about:

Vermeule is examining the role of evolution in fiction: some call it “Darwinian literary studies”. It looks at how human genetics and evolutionary theory shape and influence literature, or at how literature itself may be an expression of evolution. For instance, the fact that much of human fiction is about the search for a suitable mate should suggest that evolutionary forces are at play. Others agree that fiction can be seen as promoting social cohesion or even giving lessons in sexual selection. “It is hard to interpret fiction without an evolutionary view,” said Professor Jonathan Gottschall at Washington and Jefferson College, Pennsylvania.

Hah! That won’t get you far with The Greatest Story Ever Told, “Professor”! If we evolved from dinosaurs, why aren’t there any dinosaurs in the Bible, eh? Tell me that.

Ahem.

Much as with the afore-mentioned neurocinematics, I’m sure someone will hit on the idea of using neuro lit crit for tailoring books that produce the right sort of brain spikes, and prompt a race to the bottom in literary value that will make the pulp magazine explosion look like a damp squib*. I guess our last best hope is that the profit margins will be too small to make it worthwhile… while I’ve complained a few times about wanting a little more science in my fiction, this isn’t what I meant at all. 😉

[ * – Note for the inevitable handful easily-riled genre traditionalists, who will doubtless head straight for the comments box anyway: this sentence is to be read with heavy irony, as is the rest of the post. ]