SocioSocialYYC – December 7, 2011


Throughout the conference today, I’ll be posting and updating my notes from the floor about what speakers are saying about the future of publishing.

9:00am Brian O’Leary

For publishing, the container has been the starting point. Now, the container should be an option. The web is creating a blend between marketers, creators and publishers (eg. Amazon).

Context is important in life but has generally been a stop point for publishing content.

In the physical world, the search often takes place before the intake of content or the experience of getting an answer (Google).

The current model is that content goes digital before it ends up in a book or magazine.

Investing in context is necessary in amodern world. Quoting Ted Levitt, he suggesting that publishers are in the content solution business, not the book or magazine business.

Current audiences live in a world where they can mix and match and customize content. And that will continue. People expect access and if you don’t provide, someone may take it from you (piracy).

Online, proper tagging is necessary to help the experience of context for users. It also has implications for workflow, making content open, accessible and useable.

There is an abundance of content and context out there so publishers will be competing in that era and will have to provide the means for users to control that abundance (Huffington Post).

In future, it’s about imagination and adaptability, and creating content that is open and changeable.

10:15am Donna Livingstone

Interesting group assembled around the table for Donna with a variety of backgrounds in publishing.

Donna is with University of Calgary Press and they publish 20 books a year from academics and have grown into a vision whe they make the reader think.

They focus on stories from Western Canada, ones that challenge the way that people think about The West. Another area is the history of Canada thru its environment.

Publishing is a verb, not the book that content comes in.

The UofC press has an African component of books that is Open Access and they have deals for digital distribution in Africa. The issue seems to be around monetizing the project. But Donna feels that as a university publisher they should be about disseminating knowledge.

They reach out to social networks to spread the word about publications and content. Print versions and the open access version are released simultaneously.

A new forefront is coming for UofC Press is in publishing an open access book of visual art.

Some representatives from Calgary’s Public Library asked, in terms of the digital library, how do you make the “invisible, visible?”

There are issues for libraries around acquisitions, both in terms of the cost of buying books and storing them. The UofC buys 8 times more digital books than physical ones. The search process differs for both.

11:15am Rob Oakes

A bio-medical engineer who works in the field of how people interact and communicate.

Rob discussed the idea behind story and a desire for stories. As people, we are engaged by someone who is good at telling a telling a story.

He played a video from Ronald Reagan made in the wake of the Challenger Shuttle disaster in 1985 and how Reagan’s speech sympathized with the families and coworkers of the astronauts yet implored the nation to move on and do better.

NASA calculated risk and acceptable damage for each shuttle launch during its history. At the time of the 1895 launch, NASA were advised about the risks of launching under those circumstances. However there was a disconnect between the advisors and NASA in how the story was communicated about those dangerous circumstances.

We have a difference between what the world really is and what the world can be. The implications is where a good story is found.

For example, for non-profit organizations they have true and engaging stories to tell that often lead to action. But they often face donor fatigue because the story always focuses on crisis. The story should be about connecting between the storyteller and the audience.

It’s about bridging the gap and what are the tools to do that. What is the compelling story that will engage the audience?

1:15pm Brian O’Leary

Conducted a presenting on XML or Extensible Markup Language and in this context it’s about publishing across a variety of platforms.

The markup aspect defines the structure of the content. At this point there are issues around how files need to be usable across a variety of print forms and devices. The key is to create a “markup” that can be driven to these different media.

Tagging for structure is important but tagging for meaning is also key. No one asks for a “paragraph” but will ask for a passage on “Parliament” or “vacations”, etc.

It requires more planning on behalf of publishers but results in more users by customers in the end. XML is not a passing fad and will help reduce content costs and make retrieval of the content easier.

At some point, it may require publishers to adopt a single ePub format for all devices and make the users experience consistent across all platforms and devices, similar to the experience that music listeners have had for decades across formats and listening devices.

2:15 Manoj Khanna

Manoj publishes eBooks in a niche area of technical manuals but has recently merged his business with Frontenac House to create digital versions of more traditional publishing fare.

There are issues around price point in the eBook world and many online sellers like Amazon push for low prices and subsequently, low royalties.

Some of the questions about the market derive from sales, market share and formats of eBooks. The trick comes from allowing the reader to sample a book. Many aspects of social media and promoting the author and the book become more important in the book experience.

The book is an outcome of an experience associated with the author and their brand, and the book is a part of the overall profile the author offers the public and the audience.

A number of issues still exist about transportability and what that means for authors and publishers moving forward.

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