After posting a summary of Johanna Vondeling's "top ten trends shaping the future of publishing", I am returning to each of the ten trends in separate posts appearing on Mondays for the balance of the summer.
Vondeling is Berrett-Koehler's vice president for international sales and business development. If you read this blog regularly, you'll see that the second trend on her list, "content comes first", covers some familiar ground:
All content producers now need to approach format as a secondary consideration. The innovators are designing workflows that prioritize the development and the prepublication tagging of content regardless of format, knowing that the outputs could be almost infinitely varied.
Print book? E-book? Online course? Webinar? App? Blog? Tweet? Tagging must be “semantic” (with tags pertaining to meaning, not just terms) to facilitate discoverability. Content producers must make it as easy as possible for content to be repurposed by its curators in editorial and production departments and leveraged and shared by its marketers and distribution partners.
Although I'd change the title slightly, making it "context come first", I agree with Vondeling's take. In 2009, I had a chance to critique the notion of "format as brand", noting:
Certainly it is possible to preserve the look and feel of the New York Times (or a Harry Potter book) in digital format, and I don’t blame LibreDigital for doing what their customers want. But the container, which is all the page layout represents, is hardly the brand.
Vondeling is also right to outline the growing overlap between editorial and marketing functions. As I wrote in "Context first":
When content scarcity was the norm, we could live with a minimum of context. In a limited market, our editors became skilled in making decisions about what would be published. Now, in an era of abundance, editors have inherited a new and fundamentally different role: figuring out how “what is published” will be discovered.
This isn't a post to say "I thought of this first". These ideas have been percolating for a decade or more, particularly among STM publishers. What Vondeling's post shows, to our benefit, is the growing revelance of what was at one time a challenging set of ideas.