springwoof: Dalmatian puppy with books (reading)
springwoof ([personal profile] springwoof) wrote in [community profile] ebooks2013-02-03 18:14

Has anybody used this service?

Dotdotdot is a "digital reading app." The site says it allows you to read e-books and web texts in one reader. I'm curious about how this would work and was wondering if anyone has tried it yet?
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elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)

[personal profile] elf 2013-02-03 23:56 (UTC)(link)
Their official blog is a tumblr. This does not bode well for their status as Serious Business. (I like tumblr. Mostly. But it's not designed for serious discussion, or even serious long posts.)

It lets you read DRM-free epubs and apparently blog posts & similar on an iPad (well, that's what the blog says; the site's picture shows a laptop), without distractions. I suspect a storage app combined with a "readability" plugin, and a bit of social options.

I've signed up for beta. The app's not actually available yet. If it's iThing only, I'll let people know.
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)

Received beta account.

[personal profile] elf 2013-02-04 16:09 (UTC)(link)
Got an invite to closed beta, which involves installing an app. Weird Terms of Use. Includes the bit:

YOU SHALL NOT USE ANY THIRD PARTY CONTENT IN CONNECTION WITH THE APP WHICH IS
  • OFFENSIV,
  • DEFAMATORY,
  • LIBELOUS,
  • OBSCENE,
  • PORNOGRAFIC,
  • SEXIST,
  • RACIST,
  • FALSE OR MISLEADING,
  • OTHERWISE ILLEGAL, UNLAWFUL OR IMMORAL.
Um. Does this mean "no reading erotica ebooks?" (Also: non-proofread TOS. Bad sign for serious company.

Also, no sexism or racism, but homophobia is fine? Or is that covered under "offensiv?" If I've got time, I may send the an email asking what they consider "offensiv," "pornografic," and "immoral."

Their iThing app is downloaded through rink.hockeyapp.net, not the iStore. Hmm. Installed app has no favicon; weird. Username can be 3 letters (yay!); "real name," a required field, has to be more than that.

Dashboard is a creepy (to me) setup where I apparently see EVERYTHING EVERYONE ELSE IS READING. (Maybe that's only the stuff they post publicly. I'll play with settings later.) It's unclear whether everyone can read everyone else's books; it looks like maybe not.

The library starts out with 2 books in it: "An Introduction to dotdotdot" and Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. (They get points for that; I love Free Culture.) I uploaded an epub, read a couple of pages... sure enough, it shows up on the global dashboard. Dayamn. It allows upload of epubs; says "50mb limit." No idea if that's per ebook or total. Also allows browsing of internet texts (blog posts etc.); no idea how that works either. (Don't I have pinboard for that? Or Google reader? Not seeing that this is *better* than a linked rec list somewhere, except maybe that I can highlight & share passages. Which is only useful if they get over a certain activity level.)

There is no "contact us" option. Anywhere. And once you've logged into the app, you can't get back to the intro page without logging out.

Conclusion: Interesting app in beta. If they don't offer a privacy option, it's going to fritter out; damn near nobody wants to share ALL their reading with a swarm of total strangers, and damn near nobody wants an app for public reading and somewhere else for other reading. If they offer privacy, it could catch on.

Business implementation: new and somewhat buggy. Another "if you build it, they will come" website, with a premise with some promise, but they'll need to be responsive and on top of legal issues to be successful. Invisible mods who ban people who break unclear rules would kill their momentum.
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)

Re: Received beta account.

[personal profile] elf 2013-02-04 17:49 (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I'd suggest keeping them in the back of your head and looking back in six months or a year, unless you *like* playing with beta apps/plugins. I can see a lot of rough areas, and a lot of warning signs that they haven't thought things through very well.

(I acquired a follower this morning. Apparently you can follow people. IDEK. Maybe he follows everyone, 'cos there's nothing interesting about what I've done so far.)

I'm going to poke at it for a while, so thanks for bringing it up.

Weird features: book covers in the dashboard are in black-and-white until you mouseover, and then they change to color. No idea how that works on an iThing.

When you click on someone else's ebook, you get a large splash page that says "The requested document was not found or you're not allowed to open it." (If this were a *good* service, that page would include book metadata, like title and author at least, other metadata drawn from the epub, and, if they had sponsors, a link to a store where you could buy it.) So I don't need to worry about someone else reading over my shoulder.

Tried to upload an AO3 epub. Got an undefined error message. (Popup at bottom of screen that said "We're Sorry!"--which is how all their error messages begin--followed by "Notice undefined.") Huh. If you can't upload homemade ebooks, this is a pretty useless service for me.
ETA: Got it to load. Epubs with image links that aren't included in the file won't load. (So, anything from AO3 that has cover art or an LJ userlogo won't work unless you fix the xhtml file manually.)
Edited 2013-02-04 17:58 (UTC)
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)

Re: Received beta account.

[personal profile] elf 2013-02-04 20:30 (UTC)(link)
It doesn't keep your place when you leave a book. It doesn't show a table of contents you can use while in the middle of the book. If you're reading an ebook that's the same as one someone else has loaded (like Free Culture), it shows *everyone's* highlights. It gives a "number of pages read" report on your dashboard, which has nothing to do with the number of pages you've clicked through. (Maybe they're calculated the way ereaders do, with 1024 bytes = 1 page.) The texts are slow to load. There's a "highlight" option but no "bookmark" option.

And, of course, no feedback allowed. I suspect this is going to crash hard, fast, unless they've got a dedicated testing team, because most users are going to sign up, poke at it for an hour, and leave forever.