Socialnomics as an ebook: Why not?

Erik Qualman’s book Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business should be an interactive ebook. Just imagine how much easier it would be to completely understand his message–not to mention, an excellent illustration of some of the very technology he is so enthusiastic about.

If Socialnomics were an interactive ebook, there would be links to discussion groups on Twitter and Facebook. This would be a great resource for readers as well as the author. He could get immediate feedback from his readers (customers) and harness the power of his own audience. In this way, Qualman could address their concerns quickly and efficiently, making the ebook even better. We could expect frequent updates, so examples more recent than 2008 would be available. In fact, maybe readers would go back to the book with frequency to see if their suggestions made it into the most recent version.

If Socialnomics were an interactive ebook, rather than simply telling us that the word “panoply” would be linked to a dictionary, the word actually would be linked so readers could easily find the definition.

If Socialnomics were an interactive ebook, perhaps it would have a link to certain pop culture references (zombies) or “vintage” television episodes. When Qualman mentions the Happy Days “Shark Jump” episode (if I remember correctly, it was actually a two-part episode) we could relive the scene. Now that would be cool!

How about films of Qualman introducing each chapter to us by giving us his “Key Points” (currently found at the end of each chapter) before we even begin reading the chapter? Wait for the ebook version.

How about Qualman narrating an interactive view of graphs or charts that illustrate the changing trends he’s always referring to. (Use airplane icons in a graph to illustrate the number of people who “land at” the three competing travel apps he refers to.) Need to wait for the ebook for that one.

Oh, Mr. Qualman, why didn’t you take it the extra step?

Well, I know someone who did take his book that extra step. Al Gore’s (2011) ebook Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis does a great job of incorporating internet and digital technology with nonfiction text. Gore’s ebook begins with a compelling view of our rotating Earth from space. If you allow your computer to communicate its location to the ebook, a pin on the globe will indicate where you are.

Al Gore also appears to introduce the ebook, and he narrates the tutorial (or user’s guide) and interactive graphs, animated illustrations, and diagrams).

Photographs are often linked to their location on the globe. Some “unfold” to show more content, while others become video with a simple click. All pictures can become full-screen by “grabbing” and enlarging them.

Because the pages within each chapter appear as thumbnail size beneath the main art for the chapter itself, it’s pretty easy and engaging to simply browse or skim this ebook.

Image from Our Choice

I absolutely love it. While I also love to read books with real pages, ebooks can be very compelling.

If my 10th graders were reading an ebook version of To Kill a Mockingbird–one that went beyond just flashing words across an electronic screen–I bet more would actually get through it.

Cookbooks as ebooks–there’s idea.

About Rob_Henseler

Rob has been teaching high school English and Language Arts for 20 years. When he's not at school, he enjoys making and listening to music, woodworking, canoeing, and hands-on traditional skills.

Posted on October 21, 2012, in Literacy, Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Rob, I think your idea is super great. Why don’t you post this idea on Qualman’s (?) Facebook page? Also mention your background and that you might be able to help. You might land yourself a job. If you don’t want to get into this kind of work, I am always looking for new opportunities. ….
    Could this actually work? Seriously?

    • I took your suggestion and posted a very shortened version of my idea on Qualman’s Facebook page, with the invitation to respond if he was curious about details of what I had in mind. What a kick it would be if he actually responded! I’ll keep you posted.

      • Awesome. Wouldn’t that be something, if he actually would get back to you? A real life example. Wouldn’t get any better than this. I cross my fingers for you!

  2. If Qualman’s book were interactive, and he actually made revisions based on reader comments, the book itself would become an evolving conversation. Everytime he wrote something, a new comment would be made, and he would need to make more changes. His book would never come to an end. In essence, the book would both initiate conversation and be a product of conversation.

  3. I’m kicking myself for not pointing out this irony myself. Bravo! I’m definitely going to check out that Al Gore site. Have you ever read Tribes by Seth Godin? He did that too,which is entirely as it should be. If you are going to write about the virtues of online communities you should demonstrate that.

    But, on the other hand, I guess Qualman is trying to bring people to a new medium by communicating to them in a more traditional medium.

    • I’ve never read Godin’s book, but his ideas are quite popular among educators, especially at the elementary level. This evening I did some really quick checking of his book; was the kindle version the one that was interactive? I didn’t spot one that was obvious.

  4. LOVE the e-book idea for Socialnomics, particularly because of the ever- and quickly-changing nature of social media. As a continually evolving conversation (as Paul put it), it would could likely better stand the test of time, as well as provide a more dynamic experience for its readers.

  5. Great writing here and I love your voice in asking him, “Oh, Mr. Qualman, why didn’t you take it the extra step?” He does have his website but your idea is better.

    The textbook I use with my freshman is called New New Media and its original publication was 2008, so needless to say nearly all of the chapters on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are out of date. I took that as an opportunity to ask my students to create an annotated bibliography consisting of sources post-2009 to update those chapters. I even include this blurb from a book review, which in its second to last sentence suggests exactly what you mention in terms of interactivity:

    The relevance of many of Levinson’s examples, while appropriate for this current edition, may quickly pass out of the public sphere, and therefore out of contextual significance. While we may still be talking about the “Obama Girl” during the next election cycle, other references may not be familiar to readers in 2012. This is both a strength and weakness of Levinson’s use of hyper-current examples. The references illustrate his points well, but their possible fleeting nature may be a hindrance in the long term. Things change so fast that each new edition of the book may require significant rewriting, or perhaps a migration from the printed page to a hypertext online wiki edition. This may be unavoidable given the nature of the topic.

    Perhaps this should be a project I do with the Fall 2013 ENGL 745 students?

  6. That’s an interesting idea to have students propose updates to the material. I can imagine it being especially useful for younger students; they get to make connections to the recent events, news stories, and pop culture that they are familiar with. That would be very challenging for me, I think.

    • That book is so focused on the author’s experience and the role of social media in the 2008 election, long before these freshman could vote, so they’ve got tons of other uses and experiences with social media which I think helps them while researching. I can’t imagine it would be too difficult for future 745 students to do the same with Socialnomics.

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