Citation: “The End of the End of the Book: Dead Books, Lively Margins, and Social Computing.” Michigan Quarterly Review, 48 (2009): 499-520. Special issue on “Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age”

Riddle me this: what kind of “bookshelf” or “my library” in an online sidebar is able to transcend the passivity of a container or support structure to boldly go where no bookshelf has gone before–to trek actively in quest of the furthest galaxies of knowledge and beam them hypertextually back to the user? Just as the character Data in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation makes data an agent rather than mere object of quest (otherwise known as “search result”), so the “bookshelves” and “my libraries” of the new research online reading environments are a bit too lively, too full of semi-autonomous agency, to sit still like well-behaved bookish furniture or buildings.