Category: Ebooks

Chuck Norris, tapeworms, and the future of science: video of my keynote talk

By Carl Zimmer | July 18, 2012 9:00 am

Last month I gave the keynote lecture at the annual meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections. The society has just posted it on Youtube. I’ve cued it up below to the start of my talk, which came after some welcoming speeches at the start of the conference. In the spring, when the society asked me for a title for my talk, I called it “From Page to Pixel,” since it would be about the changes in science communication over the past decade. But then Chuck Norris came into my life, and things changed accordingly, as you’ll see…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Ebooks, Meta, Talks

"From Page to Pixel" on Slideshare

By Carl Zimmer | June 13, 2012 12:34 pm

I had the pleasure of kicking off the annual meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections with a keynote lecture on the impact of the Internet on science writing and museums. One audience member asked if she could see the slides again to follow some of the links. So here they are, courtesy of SlideShare.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Download the Universe, Ebooks, Meta, Talks

Controlling Cancer: Today's ebook review at Download the Universe

By Carl Zimmer | February 27, 2012 10:59 am

Download the Universe, the new science ebook review that I and a group of other writers and scientists recently launched, is now entering its second week. I’ve written this week’s first review, of an ebook called Controlling Cancer, by evolutionary biologist Paul Ewald. Ewald argues that the best way to reduce the death rate from cancer is to treat it like an infectious disease–which, to a surprising extent, it really is. Check it out.

[Image: Dividing lung cancer cell/NIH]

Download the Universe: Week One!

By Carl Zimmer | February 24, 2012 9:59 am

We’ve come to the end of the first week of Download the Universe, a science ebook review. Today’s review is from Maggie Koerth-Baker, the science editor of Boing-Boing and author of the forthcoming Before the Lights Go Out, a book about the future of energy. She reviews Into the Forbidden Zone by William Vollmann, in which the author recounts his journey into Japan’s post-tsunami hell. Maggie weaves in her own reflections on how hard it can be for us to judge the real risks we face from nature and from our own technology.

It’s been a great experience to see the idea for this project go from conference-hallway gabbing to actual publication. Here are the rest of this week’s offerings:

“A New Kind of Review for a New Kind of Book”–my introduction to the site and some thoughts about the history of science in books.

“A Cabinet of (Chemical) Curiosities”–Deborah Blum reviews The Elements, an iPad app about chemistry

“The State of the ebook, Early 2012”–John Timmer surveys the business and creative possibilities of ebooks today.

“Narrative and Neuroscience”–Annalee Newitz reviews Blindsight, an Atavist publication about a brain injury that sends a man into a different kind of existence.

Stay tuned (or rss’d)–there’s a lot more to come.

Parasite mind-control, ebooks, and killer flu: My first Google+ Hangout video

By Carl Zimmer | February 23, 2012 2:43 pm

One of the most interesting features of Google’s new social media service, Google+, is Google+ Hangout On Air. A group of people get onto G+ all at once, fire up their computers’ cameras, and have a conversation. Google puts whoever is speaking at the moment on the main screen. You can join a hangout if it’s public or if you have an invitation, and–coolest of all–it automatically records the conversation and throws it onto Youtube.

Right now only a few people have access to this service. I jealously watched fellow Discover blogger Phil Plait talk about exoplanets last month. (You can too.) And then I got invited to join the folks at the Singularity Hub for a hangout, too. It’s up on Youtube, and you can also see it embedded here below. We talked about all sorts of things–from mind-controlling parasites to bird flu to using viruses to cure antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the future of ebooks and much more.

I deeply crave this technology. I used to participate in a primitive forerunner of this, known as Bloggingheads. I bowed out due to editorial differences, but I still think the basic system is an exciting medium. I hope Google opens up their Hangout On Air service to more people, because it could be a whole lot of fun.

Brain Cuttings Meets the Woes of the Ebook Business

By Carl Zimmer | February 22, 2012 8:00 am

By weird coincidence, on the same day I announce the launch of an ebook review, I get to enjoy some of the harsh realities of the ebook business. Over the past year I’ve published two collections of my pieces about the brain, Brain Cuttings and More Brain Cuttings. I just found out that Amazon has decided, for now, not to sell them. (Here’s some background.)

You still have lots of options for getting your hands on these ebooks.

Scott & Nix, the publisher, offers both titles in pdf and epub formats. (Brain Cuttings, More Brain Cuttings)

Barnes & Noble sells then for the Nook. (Brain Cuttings, More Brain Cuttings)

Apple sells it in them iBookstore. (Brain Cuttings, More Brain Cuttings)

Update: Publisher’s Lunch has the details of the showdown between Amazon and Independent Publishers Group over Kindle titles.


Introducing Download the Universe: A new science ebook review

By Carl Zimmer | February 21, 2012 11:06 am

I’d like to draw your attention to a new project some colleagues and I have built: a science ebook review.

For over a year now, ebooks about science have been published at a remarkable clip, but there’s been a serious gap in this growing ecosystem: a way for people who want to read new ebooks about science to find out about new projects. Because science ebooks are so new, they have a way of falling between the cracks. Conventional book reviews aren’t very interested; blogs only sporadically pay attention.

At this year’s Science Online conference, some colleagues and I decided that this was a problem easily solved. So we set out to solve it, with a new site: Download the Universe.

We are fifteen writers and scientists who want to explore this new form. On a regular basis, we’ll be delivering new reviews of ebooks about technology, medicine, natural history, neuroscience, astronomy, and anything else that fits under the comfortably large rubric of science. We also define ebooks generously–everything from a plain-vanilla pdf on an author’s web site to a Kindle Single to an elaborate iPad app. (We will not be reviewing ebooks that are simply digitized versions of print books.) We welcome tips about titles to review–from readers, authors, or publishers.

We already have an inventory of reviews that we’ll be publishing over the next few days, and we’re at work on more. There’s a lot to cover, we’re happy to report.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Ebooks, Link Love, Writing Elsewhere

The Future of E-books–podcast of my interview on Wisconsin Public Radio

By Carl Zimmer | February 9, 2012 9:31 am

WPR has posted the podcast of my talk last week on the Ben Merens show on their site–including a lot of interesting comments from callers.  (Direct link to MP3)

[Image: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom on an Iphone. Gasp! Prepare for the Apocalypse! Photo by badosa on Flickr/Creative Commons]


Ebooks on the radio: 6 pm ET tonight

By Carl Zimmer | February 3, 2012 3:10 pm

I’ll be talking on Wisconsin Public Radio with host Ben Merens about ebooks and the future of publishing. I’ll be on for the hour from 5 pm to 6 pm CT (6-7 ET) You can listen live here.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

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