My First Ebook

When I purchase an item I like having a physical thing to hold and show for my purchase. There is something about my physical CD collection that my digital one does not capture; is it all those colourful cases, the fancy sleeve artwork, the smell of a new cd or am I just a hoarder? My addiction to the physical means I am often late to the party where purchasing digital versions of media content is concerned. When I do finally cave in and opt for my first digital taste of something I remember what it was and the exact reason I opted for digital over physical. My first digital CD was a limited print and only sold in physical form at U.S gigs . My first digital games came from a ‘pay what you want’ indie charity bundle.

Yesterday I purchased a physical book, the book is called Getting started with Dwarf Fortress. For those that don’t know Dwarf Fortress is the 2nd greatest game ever (fact) and is free to download and play. It’s a very complex city building game where you manage a bunch of fortress building dwarfs while coping with many dangers such as goblins, vampires dwarfs, lack of beer and ‘the occasional rampant megabeast’. It’s a hard game with a high learning curve and ASCII graphics. My favourite thing about it is the sheer amount of things in the game. The below flowchart is a community creation to show a beginner what should be done in order to get started:


The game is constantly updated and as a result this flowchart gets bigger and bigger!

The problem with a physical book on a subject like Dwarf Fortress is that it can date quickly. While the book will be a great help for me in turning Atolkol into a successful Dwarf fortress I wonder how useful it will be two or three game updates down the line. Will the book have a short shelf life with the subject of the book being constantly updated? Reading the back of the book I spotted this about free updates:


I headed over to forums and the author had this to say on the matter:

“Yes – it isn’t well explained on O’Reilly’s site, but O’R ebook customers will be alerted when the book is updated and able to grab a new copy. Other owners can, if they wish, “register” their book with O’R for $5 and also get the updates.

Print book will always be current to the version bought at the time of purchase. The current version is, basically the May releases of DF – so, exceptionally current“

This is a new concept to me; it could be common practice that I haven’t noticed, as I haven’t purchased an Ebook before. My shelf is full of text books on the same subject, not because I particularly love Java but because updates to it render old books useless. I like the idea of ‘patching books’ that a book can evolve along with its subject matter.

I checked out the Ebook and not only does it get updates, it is full of beautiful colourful pictures that don’t work very well in the black and white book. So now I have another digital media content first, my first Ebook.

Sharing ideas in a distributed organisation

A good thing about working in JISC CETIS is being surrounded by the wide array of interests and ideas of its staff. A bad thing about working for JISC CETIS is with its distributed nature (and the fact everybody is always so busy!) it is always not possible to sit down and have a good natter about these interests.

Sheila recently blogged about social analytics and the way people share things. I enjoyed the post as I find resource sharing online a really interesting area. I increasingly find myself getting anxious about how I share things online and to which online persona ideas and resources are attached. I find myself carving out an online identity created of different levels of obscurity where I push my outputs up the levels as and when I feel more comfortable with them. I find it interesting that Christopher Poole’s latest social network allows you to work anonymously and then gives you the option to claim the work at a later date.

I left a comment on Sheila’s post and she replied back to me. First through a comment back on the post followed up by a quick skype chat. It occurred to me then that an online social structure that has worked very well for me has been the JISC CETIS blogs. An environment of regular blogging and commenting allows ideas to be shared and grow through the distributed organisation.

Over the past week or so I’ve been collecting data for a report and struggling with a way to analyse it. I came up with a method of turning networks I can spot in my CSV files into something network analysis tools can understand (which you can read about further down the chain of obscurity). Now that I’m obsessed with running data through the technique I thought I’d run CETIS blog authors and the conversations that join them over the method and steal Tony’s visualisation technique. I’ve removed pingbacks and such. It might not be useful but it tickles the occipital lobe.