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NYPL Open Book Hackathon 2014
Posted by Jean Kaplansky - Tagged

I spent last weekend at the NYPL Open Book Hackathon. Here are some writeups from other blogs:

http://hypothes.is/blog/open-book-2014/

http://go-to-hellman.blogspot.co.nz/2014/01/epub-has-steep-road-ahead-notes-from.html

I was encouraged to participate in the event by a colleague who said “I can’t go… But you should!”

It was very cool to see so many people excited about what we can do with eBooks! Love EPUB 3, or not. There’s a lot to be done and a lot more to learn out there.

I spent the weekend immersed in microformats and schema.org. (I worked on the PressBooks deep linking project with Hugh McGuire, Max Fenton, and Tendi M.)

If you know me, then you may think that I would’ve gravitated over to the Japanese team working on Readium and Hypothesis.is integration a la EDUPUB.

But it was the weekend, I’ve been using WordPress here and there for my purposes, and I was interested in working with Hugh McGuire since I like the PressBooks interface. I also really enjoyed Hugh’s book and his presentations over at the Books In Browsers conferences.

Everyone needs to stretch out of their comfort zone once in a while. I’ve meant to get further into microformats, Schema.org, and other semantic web technologies including RDFa and Open Annotations for a while now, but there is never enough time in my week to do ALL of the things I want to do. The NYPL Open Book Hackathon provided the perfect opportunity to stretch. Or at least extend within the parameters of stuff I know like the back of my hand – content, content architecture, and markup.

Our title was perfect for deep linking: Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. If you’re looking for a book with a significant number of nouns that cover people, places, things animal and vegetable, as well as other things like geological constructs, anything by Darwin will most likely fit your requirements. Of course, being a bit of a Darwin geek, I didn’t check the microformats and schema.org specifications as carefully as I should have, and only found out after the fact that schema.org doesn’t go as far as classifying animals, vegetables, and specific types of rock formations… This is what happens when you get caught up in reading the content that you’re supposed to be processing!

End result: the first three chapters of Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle wound up with a lot more semantic markup than it started with, I learned something about Darwin’s voyages on the Beagle, and the team got what it needed in order for Tendi and Max to integrate some very cool JavaScript with the web book display of a Press Books title. Great fun!

Thanks very much to the NYPL and the sponsors of the Open Book Hackathon for letting me play! It was great to spend a weekend with like minded folks who are looking at lots of different facets and possibilities for eBooks. Especially for someone who spends as much time as I do down in the weeds of standards organizations. It’s always good to look up and see what else is going on out there.

 

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