Rebus Foundation awarded grant from the Mellon Foundation for prototyping a reader-focused ‘open webbooks’ ecosystem for scholarly monographs

MONTREAL – Feb. 7, 2017 – The Rebus Foundation will research and prototype an open, Web-based scholarly reading system, supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The US$75,000, one-year grant will enable a team to focus on an open webbook ecosystem that prioritizes the needs of scholarly readers.

“Close scholarly reading of texts requires readers to process multiple sources, to understand and link complex concepts, and eventually to synthesize knowledge into new scholarly works,” said Hugh McGuire, co-founder and executive director of the Rebus Foundation, who previously founded the open content project Librivox.org and the open-source software Pressbooks. “However, most digital reading environments, whether of PDFs or ebooks in ebook reading software, are limited and constrained. We want to open up what ‘deep’ reading can mean, to take full advantage of the web, both in terms of technology and its culture of innovation”

Through the grant, McGuire and Rebus co-founder & strategic director Boris Anthony will conduct in-depth research to better understand the needs of scholarly monograph readers and develop outlines and prototypes of a webbook reader for long-form deep reading.

“The objective is to figure out an ecosystem—from creation, through publication, to deep reading and annotation—that is fully native to the web, unlike current ebooks,” said Anthony. “We seek an approach that allows readers to more deeply engage with books and the knowledge they contain. We are doing this because we believe books are foundational to open knowledge and free societies.”

The results of the work will be published under open licenses.

The Rebus Foundation is a Canadian not-for-profit organization, established in April 2016, with a mission to build new models and technology for open book publishing, collecting and reading on the web. The foundation was generously funded in August 2016 with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, leaders in supporting Open Education initiatives.

Rebus Foundation Launches Rebus Community

The Rebus Foundation has launched its first project, The Rebus Community for Open Textbook Creation.

The Rebus Community will build a new, collaborative model for open textbook publishing.

Its mission is to publish many new, high-quality CC-BY-licensed open textbooks that can be freely used and remixed by educators worldwide. In addition, the community will provide support for university administrators launching open textbook publishing programs and faculty wanting to publish open textbooks.

The Rebus Community will:

  • Build a global, connected network of Open Textbook creators;
  • Develop an Open Textbook publishing process in response to the needs of this community; and
  • Develop software and tools to support the processes of publishing Open Textbooks.

“There are many processes that go into creating an open textbook, and the Rebus Community will figure out what open textbook creators need and how to crowdsource those activities in the open education context,” said co-founder Hugh McGuire, who previously founded book-related ventures including Librivox, a mass web collaboration project that produced the world’s largest collection of public domain audiobooks.

Anyone interested in making open textbooks or contributing to open textbook development and adoption can join the Rebus Community at https://forum.rebus.community. Rebus Community members making CC BY-licensed open textbooks can also get access to the Rebus Community Press, a software platform for formatting open textbooks powered by Pressbooks.

For more information about the Rebus Community, visit About.Rebus.Community.

The Rebus Community is a project of The Rebus Foundation, a Canadian not-for-profit organization with a mission to build new models and technology for open book publishing and reading on the web. The foundation was created in August and is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, leaders in supporting Open Education initiatives.