Ebooks are kind of a tricky subject. They are, of course, completely awesome. You can carry your entire library on vacation, they're easier to move than a cardboard box, can be read on devices from a phone to a television screen, can be replaced if lost, won't fall apart in the shower and are cheaper than their paper counterparts.
But actual paper books are awesome. Sure, you can still buy paper versions of most every major book title released now, but there's an aesthetic that's been lost, a communal feeling, in the tidal shift towards electronic readers. Somehow the weight of a physical book seems less these days.
Alas. Call it nostalgia — it's hard to deny an electronic reader isn't better in most every practical way.
Which makes this project all the more amazing. Among the things swept aside by electronic books were margin notes, those comments and underlinings and thoughts penciled in beside the passages which made us think.
Erik Schmitt, who worked on the design team for the 1st generation Kindle, has put together a beautiful project which preserves marginalia and notations as a kind of visual art and demonstration of how knowledge and insight is preserved and passed on.
The Pages Project is based on books he inherited from his grandfather, and invites people to submit photographs of notated book pages. He describes beautifully what he is attempting:
"The goal of the project is to demonstrate the layered expansion of meaning and insight that occurs through the marginalia left by ordinary people within books."