Three S’s

On Friday, I delivered a set of remarks on "networked publishing" that kicked off an hour-long panel discussion of the topic. Moderated by Outsell's David Worlock, the panel included Fionnuala Duggan (CourseSmart), Ingrid Goldstein (Oxford University Press) and Christian Dirschl (Wolters Kluwer).

The session was part of a four-panel program, "Forum Production in Publishing 2012". Historically, this program has been developed and delivered as a German-language option, but this year Helmut von Berg helped it expand to include a day of English-language programming.

Across both the German and English-language tracks, speakers addressed broad themes related to strategy, workflow, production and environment (sustainability). The "networked publishing" panel was conceived and planned as part of the workflow series.

I found great value in the perspectives and responses offered by the other panelists, who represented reference, educational and professional publishers. Duggan, Dirschl and Goldstein all work for businesses that have implemented some form of networked publishing, and they all expect that trend to grow in importance.

In my prepared remarks, I tried to link work that Helmut von Berg had done to prepare the panel with the ideas behind lean consumption and Kevin Kelly's 1998 book, "New rules for the new economy: 10 radical strategies for a connected world". I found one of those "radical" strategies to be particularly on-point:

"As power flows away from the center, the competitive advantage belongs to those who learn how to embrace decentralized points of control."

The full piece includes a deliberatively alliterative call to adopt three "S"s:

  • Standards. Beyond product-level identifiers, we need a much more robust and extensive use internal tagging. RDF, ISNI and ISTC provide some examples, but we need greater clarity to guarantee access and interoperability.
  • Structure. If we’re serious about creating, managing and delivering a minimum viable product that meets market-determined requirements, we’re going to have to develop, partner or adapt to systems and structures that make content acquisition and monetization possible at levels more granular than most publishers have ever considered.
  • Sense. Because success is no longer emanates from a series of well-planned, top-down efforts, publishers will need to develop a market understanding that helps them prepare for and address consumer needs that are not yet articulated.

I'll continue to evolve this thinking, but for the moment I'm happy with its call to action: "We can resist the change, buying time and perhaps some short-term wins. Or we can learn the new rules and prepare for the opportunities inherent in networked publishing."

(Thanks to Anna von Veh, @saybooks, who was kind enough to attend the panel. She took the photo, above, of our session in progress.)

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.