Sara Lloyd has published a manifesto on the way knowledge is distributed today.
In an ‘always on’ world in which everything is increasingly digital, where content is increasingly fragmented and ‘bite-sized’, where ‘prosumers’ merge the traditionally disparate roles of producer and consumer, where search replaces the library and where multimedia mash-ups -not text- holds the attraction for the digital natives who are growing up fast into the mass market of tomorrow, what role do publishers still have to play and how will they have to evolve to hold on to a continuing role in the writing and reading culture of the future?
This is important since the publishing industry somehow determines how academics allocate their time. If you can communicate your ideas in a way that fits the current standards, you may get them to spread farther.
Another interesting point is how the development of the text itself and the writing and editing process is now often ‘open’: there are ‘beta’ books on the net, and readers, ‘debug’ chapters as soon as the author releases them. This is a fantastic model that could leave professional editors out of the equation and speed up publishing in general. But then, do you really need the paper version of the book when all is said and done? Do you need to make a trip to the library to get it?
Oh, and by the way, Adobe acrobat 9 is out and now you can embed flash (i.e., video) in it. This makes possible to create a book that contains talks; or 3D rotations of a complex data visualization. Yet another reason to pay attention to fully digital book distribution.