Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Elektrobiblioteka: A student turns a book into a remote control


One of the most interesting topics to me these days is how to make print and digital coexist in an increasingly complicated, crowded space. (It is a theme that I seem to gravitate to here at Appazoogle.)

So, when I recently read about a project called Elektrobiblioteka, I couldn’t resist writing a post about it. Waldek Wegrzyn, a Polish student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, created a seriously impressive, amped-up book for his master’s project that, when plugged in via USB, is designed to interface with a website, which he also designed as part of his project. As described at

The book can be browsed as any other regular book but when connected to the computer via USB, you get added information and animations, appropriate to the page that is open. He used a set of circuits made of conductive paint printed with a silk-screen method. This allowed him to add touch-sensitive elements to illustrations. The website was created with HTML, CSS, PHP and jQuery, mostly in Adobe Dreamweaver. Wegrzyn used the teensy development board, a USB-based microcontroller development system.

It’s one thing to read about it, but another thing to see it in action. Wegrzyn created a time-lapsed video showing the creation of this project. It’s about five minutes long, but it is pretty amazing and worth seeing through in its entirety.

Crazy, right? According to a This Is Paper article, which is also quoted in the piece, Wegrzyn states, “The book was intended to be a single object, just for presentation. The great interest in my project that I encounter [sic] surprised me. I did not expect that at all, so maybe this project can be developed further.”

Now, I don’t know if something like this project would be scalable, but unlike the project’s creator, I’m not really surprised that there’s so much interest in his work. After all, everyone is trying to sort out how to make these two worlds work together. But what I like so much about Wegrzyn’s project is that it was created by someone who had a clear concept of design and knowledge of web and print. Though this may never in fact make it mainstream, the potential is there—the possibility is real, and there are lots of great situations where something like this could be fantastically useful.

In fact, I was just doing my Web Development course reading, and the textbook directed me to download certain files to complete an exercise. Can you imagine, flipping your book open, and having your web browser obediently follow along? Have I just been spoiled by a prototype?

But even if something like this never comes to light in the consumer market, I think the project is an important lesson to us all. It highlights the strengths of each medium, and it finds a way to make them work together: a goal we should all be aiming for as we navigate the digital age.

One comment on “Elektrobiblioteka: A student turns a book into a remote control

  1. wowmechanic
    September 19, 2012

    Reblogged this on wowmechanic and commented:

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This entry was posted on September 19, 2012 by in Culture, Technology and tagged , , .

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