A look at Bob Stein, The Institute for the Future of the Book, and the concept of Collective Understanding.

            Content creation is the most interesting aspect of the supply chain because it uniquely possesses the ability to impact the way society perceives and understands literature. A notable forerunner of change in the past decade is Bob Stein, his think and then do tank The Institute for the Future of the Book, and the concept of collective understanding. The intent of my final project will be to look at the work of Stein and his organization, determine in what ways they, or concepts they have utilized in their research, have affected the current landscape of literature and theorize on how those concepts, and their efforts, could impact the future.

Stein has been an innovator of the publishing community since the 1980s. His work with The Voyager Company was a leader in transmitting classic and contemporary films to the then-current Laserdisc format. While Stein was at the forefront of electronic publishing throughout the 1990s, his creation of The Institute for the Future of the Book in 2005 is by far the most interesting aspect of his work. The section on Stein will attempt to include why he committed himself to this project, what he hoped to accomplish with his work and if he is/was satisfied with the work he has accomplished to this point.

The Institute for the Future of the Book was established in 2005 by Stein with a grant from the Macarthur Foundation. The goal of the venture was to “determine how publishing might evolve as it moves from the printed page to the networked screen” (Stein). The initial and, to this point in my research, most interesting endeavor they undertook was to look at the theory of collective understanding and apply that to various projects.

The application of the projects were tied to reader comments. As Stein has described in numerous sources, during the time of the institute’s formation blogging was coming into prominence and they wondered what would happen if they added comments to things like essays and novels. In doing so they changed the structure of commenting, allowing readers to comment on the paragraph rather than the page and shifting the commenting feature to a sidebar next to the paragraph. In this section of the paper the projects of The Institute for the Future of the Book will be analyzed and expounded. The general theories of collective understanding or social reading/writing will also be introduced.

The last section, or at this point, theme, will delve into how their findings have been utilized in our current time and how they could potentially be used in the future. Why the guise of content creation was selected, rather than publishing, is because the majority of the findings of The Institute for the Future of the Book have been applied in that area of the process; writers notate their own work with comment tabs in the review section of things like Microsoft Word, blogs like Grantland post their footnotes in a similar sidebar fashion and novels like Gamer Theory, a Institute for the Future of the Book project, that are an emerging brand of literature that has changed the way authors write and readers perceive a given text.



The Institute for the Future of the Book. The Institute for the Future of the Book. n.d. Web. 5/1/2014.

Stein, Bob. “The future of publishing will be shaped by a more dynamic social reading experience”. The London School of Economics and Political Science. 4/8/2013. Web. 5/1/2014.

Visel, Dan. “mao, king kong and the future of the book: Bob Stein in conversation with Dan Visel”. Triple Canopy. N.d. Web. 5/1/2014.


Welcome to the empty recesses of my mind! I'm a recent college graduate realizing a Creative Writing degree was a bad idea. Give me a pity like. Or you could check out the about sections (on the front page and about this author page) on my blog to learn a little more about me. Whatever. https://thebohemianrockstarpresents.wordpress.com/

4 Comment on “English 340 Final Project Proposal #SNHU

  1. Pingback: Lit 202 Thesis | The Bohemian Rock Star's "Untitled Project"

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