Friday, March 27, 2009

The emperors (Publishers) have no clothes

The real problem for publishers is that they don't want to face they fact that their power is disappearing. Nobody likes to admit their day in the sun is over. They make up all kinds of blablabla to explain why it is the end of days.

In a sense, they're right. It is the end of their days.

from William F. Aicher:
. . . I want to discuss a bit the bigger point the publishing industry doesn’t seem to be getting - they no longer hold the keys to the kingdom.

For hundreds of years now, the barrier to entry to create a written work that can easily be duplicated and made available to the masses has relied upon a very closed system, with a very high cost of entry. During those times logistical issues greatly limited the amount of content that could be created (how many printing presses exist, for example) or how many books could really be sold (how many bookstores could exist, and how much shelf space was available). So it was extraordinarily important for any publisher to make very discriminate decisions as to what books they would publish and ultimately attempt to get onto a store’s shelf. During this time they were the tastemakers and ultimately responsible for the continued desire for people to want to consume the written word."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why some newspapers are toast, but mass customization is ready for Prime Time to save the day!

I followed some links starting at and got to Transforming American Newspapers @digital deliverance. The 2 part essay, written in 2008 is the most useful thought model I've yet found to understand the fundamental "newspaper" problem. It is most definitely worth investing the time to read it.

Turns out is not the internet, nor Web 2.0 or lots of other things that buzz around the blabla-o-sphere.

The real problem is a one size fits all Print technology. As the technology is now coming to market to allow micro-versioning and appropriate size print runs for appropriate communities, the rules change. Newspapers are about manufacturing. Mass customization has become a way of doing business for other manufacturers. The most recent Print technology brings mass customization to newspaper manufacturing.

Print technology is the driver
"Start in the European city of Strasbourg during 1605 when the world's first newspaper began publication. It used a technology developed there 164 years earlier by the metalworker Johannes Gutenberg, who had invented a device for producing innumerable copies of the same text. (Please keep that concept in mind, because it's now moldering the newspaper industry)."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ToC to the "Newspaper" buzz @ Text Technologies

I found a great annotated table of contents to the recent buzz about Newspapers at Text Technologies. posted by Curt Manash. Nice work!

Without comment, here it is:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Reading Eagle doesn't know print is dying

In fact, it seems commercial work adds to the revenue stream. I wonder if any print salespeople will give them a call to see if you could sell print/web adds + commercial collateral all at the same time.

Reading Eagle spreads wings:
"The Reading (Pa.) Eagle last month went on-edition with its new Koenig & Bauer AG Colora Berliner press, becoming the second North American paper to embrace the format.

The family-owned newspaper (daily, 58,532; Sunday, 78,567) in 2007 ordered the Colora as part of a $33 million project that added a new press hall to its downtown facility."
. . .
The change should fuel an uptick in commercial work, Orkus said. The company already produces a wide variety of commercial products for clients ranging from local retailers to the minor league baseball team.

Now the Eagle is ready to court new customers, including nearby newspapers.

Newspapers should seriously consider the Education Business

The opportunity is that newspapers are starting to organize their content in wikis, the textbook business is very broken and lots of money and focus is going into making education more predictably successful.

Imagine textbooks and supplementals being replaced by Wiki Newspapers and Wiki Books. It's just My Weekly Reader on steroids.

To see what I see check out Curriki and

It's the core of the printernet for education.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Consider Contributing to Saturday Classes for High School Kids in NYC

I got this in an email from Steven Kennedy. I worked with Steve when I was at Parsons. He's an awesome teacher who gets amazing stuff from his students.

Here's the deal:

The Scholars Program is a scholarship program designed to allow talented New York City high school students to take classes at Parson's School of Design Pre-College Academy's Saturday Art Program. The cost is $3000 for three years which covers costs of tuition, art supplies, metro cards and lunches.

We currently are committed to providing this for four students over the next three years. I am making a personal commitment to raise enough money to add two more students to this program. Every dollar we raise goes directly to the students -- there are no overhead costs or fees.

Please consider donating between $10-$20 to this worthy cause by going to:

Printernet for Education: Journalists and Teachers

The printernet is the subject of my latest column at PBS MediaShift.(posted sometime this coming week.) The subheads in the story are the Printernet for Newspapers, The Printernet for Magazines, The Printernet for Wikis.

But what I really wanted to write about is the Printernet for Education. Maybe I'll find some embryonic form before the next column in two weeks.

My personal goal is to help fix high school education. Newspapers, magazines, publishers are just business problems. Radically improving the efficacy and efficiency of High School education is a public problem.

The path forward took a big step for me this week, when I found,, a startup in Germany that has released Open Source technology to go from a wiki to PDF, ODF and DocBook(XML).

It means that journalists, living either inside or outside a newspaper, can work with teachers to replace textbooks with WikiBooks. The journalists teamed up with teachers can gather, edit, and select just the right stories for the right students at the right time. With this new open source technology, those stories could be delivered in print, in micro quantities directly to the classroom.

Current events told in a context that makes sense to high school kids could make a huge difference. One of the reasons that kids don't read is that mass market textbooks are not worth reading. Another reason they don't read is that they don't own books. WikiNewspapers or WikiBooks solves both problems.

Some excerpts from the 2007 press release follow.
DECEMBER 13, 2007 - ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: The Wikimedia Foundation today announced a partnership that will make it possible to obtain high quality print and word processor copies of articles from Wikipedia and other wiki educational resources. The development of the underlying open source software is supported by the Open Society Institute ( and the Commonwealth of Learning (, and led by, a start-up company based in Germany.
. . .
This technology is of key strategic importance to the cause of free education world-wide," said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "It will make it possible to use and remix wiki content for a variety of purposes, both in the developing and the developed world, in areas with connectivity and without.