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Bookbot Internship
at Open Book Systems (OBS)

Thank you for your interest in OBS, formerly known as the Online BookStore. Plying the book publishing trade on the Internet since 1992, we are called by many the "pioneers of the online publishing industry." In an effort to further develop our understanding that online publishing is more about online and collective thinking than it is about online buying and selling of finite and tangible books, we have evolved our company into Open Book Systems.

We are applying ourselves to devising systems to enable open and participatory access to ideas and information. Access is all, and the commercial publishing systems we have been devising since 1992 have more to do with access than with distributing contained files of copy-protected information.

The Bookbot Internship at OBS is an apprenticeship to the new literary discipline of "Linkthink." Through recording our associative thought patterns in hyperlinks, we can enrich other readers' experience of the Web as accessed through the contents of a particular book. Linkthink invites OBS link editors to name or describe their online hyperlinking in words or icons, instead of just coding random words and ideas as "hot" and linking them directly to other relevant sites. Linkthink serves two functions. First, it creates a context in which to describe what and why we link, which should be useful to Real-Time, Real-Life (RT/RL) readers of the online text. Second, these named links are designed to be recognizeable or searchable by standard Web keyword indexes, web crawlers, and other automatic agents, further increasing people's access to the book by making it findable according to its contents.

The text of this Linkthink will be found on an intermediate screen between the "Ur-Text" (source text) and the linked-to site(s). This intermediate screen is called the Bookbot screen, because it exists between the book from which the Linkthink editor is generating the links and the articificial bot world(s) of texts or sites being linked to out on the Web. The Bookbot page serves as a doorway between the finite world of the book and the electronic beyond, the "botness" of the net.

On the Bookbot screen one might find information about the source text, the linked-to text, the key words for searching on the idea(s) behind the link, or the people making these links (and this involvement of the RT/RL readers and thinkers is essential). The online book's user elects whether to spend time reading this Bookbot screen; it is possible to click right through that screen and go directly to the site being linked to, if that is in the best interests of the reader/user. Spending time on the intermediate Bookbot screen is a conscious choice of each RT/RL reader, analogous to deciding to read a footnote in a paper book. The Bookbot intermediate screen functions as a living online index of sorts, complete with explanation of why a particular link is made or maintained.

We see Bookbot Linkthink as an online refinement of indexing. It advances the art of linking beyond the act itself into a new semantics of kinetic and transferrable thought, by first identifying and then naming the associative thought paths opening up from within any given document.

Bookbot Linkthink is very much an evolving discipline leading to an "open work." The Bookbot intermediate screens themselves will assume shape and meaning in response to the uses readers make of them. Say, for example, you are an OBS Bookbot intern, and your job is to link-edit a book's health chapter. You want to link one section on Prozac to some text at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about the drug, to a pharmaceutical site about drugs, and through email to an expert doctor who has agreed to answer questions about Prozac. The Bookbot intermediate page you write will include the links you have researched and deemed appropriate, perhaps a sentence or two about why you chose these links (because the CDC has the latest info, or because the pharmaceutical company is publishing a bulletin board of users of Prozac, or because the expert just published a book on Prozac, for example). Then, the link editor will list five keywords that the various online index agents will search on to find this link and this project: "Prozac," "depression," "CDC," "Dr. X," and "mood-altering drugs."

Details of the Internship: True to its name, the OBS Bookbot Internship offers training in a new discipline, for which we cannot pay in anything more than knowledge, time, and experience. There is no salary attached to the Bookbot Internship at this time. Successful candidates will work on new projects to be published online at OBS in the months ahead. Bookbot Interns will have their names featured on the work itself, and at the OBS site. Successful candidates will be working with the leaders in the field of Internet publishing, and will be candidates for future paying work from OBS, and other companies, along these lines.

Conditions: Email and Web connectivity a must for successful candidates; indexing experience essential. Interest and background reading in distributive thought and Open Book Systems.

Interested candidates: please send your resume and connectivity profile to bookbot@obs-us.com.

We look forward to hearing from you!

(updated 12/28/95)


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