At O'Reilly Media's Tools of Change conference this week, Matt Macinnis, CEO of Inkling, delivered one of the opening keynotes, "The death of the page, the dawn of digital". After describing how Inkling helped publishers avoid what I've called "container myopia", Macinnis announced that a web-based Inkling platform was now available to any publisher interested in using it.
Macinnis's presentation followed a Monday workshop by Hugh McGuire and Kirk Biglione, "Using WordPress for digital workflows and more". In it, they described the benefits of PressBooks, the WordPress plug-in used to create Book: A Futurist's Manifesto.
Working in a digital environment has helped us move fast. We finished the draft of second section of Manifesto on January 23, after which O'Reilly Media copy-edited it and pushed it live in multiple formats (EPUB, mobi, PDF) on February 10. The update was announced this week at the start of the TOC conference.
On Wednesday morning, Peter Meirs and John Dougherty presented an overview of NextPub, a platform-agnostic content standard that potentially moves publishing closer to using database content to support multiple downstream uses. At its roots, NextPub is built for periodicals, but as platforms like Inkling develop, it can provide a consistent structure for book content as well.
I'm encouraged by developments like these. Inkling potentially offers a platform that can support cross-platform distribution of layered educational content. PressBooks can offer publishers a low-cost solution to the challenge of editing and outputting content in a variety of ways. And NextPub gives publishers a standard that can support not just text, but also other media forms.
In talking about workflow, I've said that "tools don't get better by not using them". I'm glad we're starting to move from a discussion of what tools should be like to a world in which we're seeing what tools might help us do better.