Last October, I published a set of thoughts that started as “a unified field theory of publishing” and evolved into an argument for “context first“. A presentation of those ideas is scheduled for O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change conference next month.
Before revisiting the presentation, I was happy to read Gerry McGovern’s recent case study of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). McGovern describes the OECD as “one of the world’s largest publishers in the fields of economics and public policy”.
McGovern recently interviewed their head of publishing, Toby Green, about what he had learned over his ten years at OECD. McGovern writes:
“At heart, most people don’t care if it’s a book or a periodical, whether it’s online or offline. As Toby puts it, “People are looking for answers, not books or data or papers. That’s why we bundle all OECD knowledge, in book form, journals, data sets, tables, working papers, you name it, into a single, seamless, online platform.””
The OECD has found the value in breaking free of what I call “container myopia”, a belief that the only vehicle to solve a problem looks, feels and acts like a book. Mine is not an argument that print is dead (it isn’t), but print alone most certainly is.