For some time I’ve been watching the development of Sophie, software developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book “for writing and reading rich media documents in a networked environment.’ According to the developers, Sophie’s goal is “to encourage multimedia authoring and, in the process, to redefine the notion of a book or academic paper to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation in dynamic margins.”
Version 1.0.2 has been released, and based on the little I’ve played, it’s an intriguing piece of software. There are a series of tutorials on the if:book BlipTV channel that I found very helpful in figuring out what the capabilities are. A good tutorial start with is Making a Sophie Book that give a conceptual overview of what the software can do.
Sophie is designed to have some specific strengths for humanists. Text flow is designed to allow complex arguments to develop over multiple pages without having to be reduced to bullet points as PowerPoint or Keynote One of the more complex features is the use of multiple timelines to support various types of presentations. Embedding media from a variety of sources, including the internet archive is supported, in addition to pretty sophisticated methods of collecting reader comments.
The project page has demo books, documentation and tutorials.