For a long time I am wondering why the workflow around reading in the context of learning and educating yourself feels broken and so cumbersome. Digital text has so much potential, and could make reading so much more valuable. Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, Doug Engelbart… heros… talked about most of that stuff already in the 60s. Why does the process of reading still feel broken?
So I thought about starting another little humble experiment trying to find out.
Blockstack could be a crucial part in a few of these solutions here, besides the many benefits that a truly decentralised internet brings to most apps like data ownership, privacy, new incentive structures etc.
If you love reading and you are not happy with your reading tools so far, if you are an engineer and you would love to start playing around with Blockstack, Textlibrary needs some help ;).
Things are early, things are bootstrapped.
Still curious? Please ping me on Stealthy (digitalwaveriding.id) or in the Blockstack Slack channel @digitalwaveride.
Ok, so why do I think the workflow around reading is broken?
It’s a long list, just mentioning three crucial points here:
- Recalling your read knowledge:
We are reading currently in silos. You read ebooks in apps connected to stores, you read articles on the web and store a few in your read later apps or bookmarks, you have texts in files in your folders. It’s a mess. Textlibrary wants to provide a tool where you can read, manage, store all the texts you care about in one place. All in a distraction free reading experience, with all your highlights, notes and comments. Finally making it easy to recall and search all your read knowledge. The challenge will be to make things as frictionless as possible.
- Discovering texts, reading more efficiently:
Search engines and social media do a great job in helping us finding interesting texts. Though we still have not found a great way to filter the content inside of texts. Not every text has to, or should be, read cover to cover. Others have very likely read these texts before us. Maybe even friends with similar interests and judgements we trust. Are there new ways to debundle the ideas of a text and connect them in new ways? Is there a way to filter a text?
- Owning your data, having full control over your own knowledge base.
Having all your texts at one place is a first step, though having things on a decentralised platform brings things to a new level. As a reader I can decide what to read in public, what to read privately, what I share just with friends or as part of a confidential project just with colleagues. And the best thing: You will keep things, even if parts of the system shut down.
I don’t want to stretch things too far here, but sure building your own knowledge base is amazing, though imagine you could do it together with many likeminded people and build a big one.
An obvious elephant in the room:
Why does no one address is these issues?
One reason might lie in the fact that current reading platforms are financial driven by selling content or by selling advertising. The book publishing world, as well as the web content ecosystem, both optimise their processes and services around the moment when you buy or click on a text (page view).
Providing great content is in their focus, which is great, though these platforms care less about how you might want to benefit from the read content in the longterm, or if there might be a way to make reading more efficiently. The later might also lead to reading less of their own content.
And there is another issue when you care about selling your content. It comes with an incentive structure that makes you don’t care about content that you don’t sell. Necessarily content silos become an issue.
Textlibrary is focusing on the reading experience and your workflow around reading. Readers bring their own texts, with Blockstack their own ID and Textlibrary tries to make reading even more valuable.
It’s all about making your reading time well spent.
We are used to have standalone tools for creating things, and we are used to pay for them. There is no technical reason why tools for consuming content should only come with the content distributors.
Imagine content distributors would have structured their systems like email. Clients and their user experiences are uncoupled from content access, distribution and licensing.
So far there were mainly financial reasons why tools for content consumption where connected to the distribution process. A truly decentralised internet might change that.
Imagine if the music industry had made streaming like email and we could have used what ever client we wanted to access it. We would all still be on Rdio.— Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) April 22, 2018
If you care about reading, you are an engineer and would love to play with Blockstack anyways… it would be so great to talk to you and to tell you more about Textlibrary.
On Stealth: digitalwaveriding.id, in the Blockstack Slack channel: @digitalwaveride .
Please find more about the project here: www.textlibrary.co