Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/11/2014

In Publishing, which is Most Important: Technology or Content?


In publishing – new tech needs content to flourish!

Not only traditional publishers – but digital publishers as well – are struggling with the new publishing industry virus ‘CD’.

Now, just what is ‘CD’? It is the ‘Constant Disruption’ caused by rapid-fire changes in publishing and media technology and their impact on content strategy in old and new publishing circles.

Content in a printed, fixed-form format dictates much of the story — the font used, the subtleties of the fixed page design, etc. What some have called the ‘story container’.

But, as media channels and formats have mixed, merged, morphed and multiplied at warp speed – the necessity of format-free content is rising forth!

But, despite the format, the content still holds more weight than the ever-evolving technology. After all, “Great storytelling is great storytelling, whether it’s on a tablet or a cave wall.” – Say Media’s CTO David Lerman.

Just as they did when desktop publishing replaced typesetting and manual markup, writers and editors need to develop new skills!

Why? You will find out why by reading tonight’s research article.

Key excerpt: “Web-led, and cloud-based content systems are clearly on the rise, despite the present stopgap of turning print page layout systems into tools for generating native tablet and smartphone apps. Nimble content creation and management tools are still in their infancy, and will improve dramatically over the next five years. However, we cannot afford to forget that content engagement depends on the art of the story, and that great storytellers can thrive in spite of (or hopefully with the aid of) the tools they use.

 

Technology or Content: Which Comes First?

John Parsons, FOLIO magazine

 

Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum tells us that the form of a medium is inherently part of the message itself. Content in printed magazine form, for example, dictates many aspects of the story-from its written style and word count to the subtleties of fixed page design. The shape of a “story container” leaves its mark on the story itself.

Now, however, as media channels mix, merge, and multiply at breakneck speed, the idea of format-free content is an attractive one. If only content could be created once and output more or less automatically to multiple channels. To test the practical implications of that idea, we spoke with a number of publishers. At the heart of our discussion were content authoring and management technology, plus the chicken-and-egg question that makes modern content strategy so difficult.

It’s About the Story

We spoke with two traditional magazine publishers (Source Interlink and Forbes) and two pure-play digital companies (Say Media and Glam). Although the four represent wildly diverse audiences and demographics, some common themes and strategies emerged.

Most agree that effective narrative remains as the essential ingredient for success, no matter how strange and distracting the various media channels and platforms may seem. “The tools and tricks change with the medium, but the fundamentals of storytelling never do,” says Say Media’s CTO David Lerman. “Great storytelling is great storytelling, whether it’s on a tablet or a cave wall.”

Each company we interviewed is embracing the disruptive nature of an always-connected audience, both in terms of content creation technology and in dealing with the implications for its writers and editors. The traditional publishers are concerned about
the continuing role of print, but are remarkably upbeat about it.

“Long term, the future of print is as a premium format,” says Source Interlink’s chief content officer Angus MacKenzie. He notes that the diversity of brand-centered content made possible by new media platforms can now be curated to produce a vastly superior “best of” printed edition. Such a product, he reasons, would have enduring financial value to subscribers and advertisers.

Content curation is also a common theme. Glam Media CEO Samir Arora notes that only professionally created content-curated for quality and discoverability-could create lasting value for a brand. “Social collecting, sharing, and remixing of information can be done by any consumer,” he says. “Content creation should be from professional content businesses, authors, and studios.”

Expertise Matters

We spoke with Forbes Media’s chief product officer Lewis D’Vorkin, who is enthusiastic about both the core expertise of the company’s content creators and the technology they use. Forbes writers, editors, and contributors use the company’s Falcon publishing platform and a customized version of WordPress to create and edit content. Users may search for details of their own and related content, incorporate photos from a secure library, embed elements such as video, and publish selected content to Forbes channels and social media. The permission-based, on-screen editing tools have significantly compressed journalistic time frames, and extended the reach of Forbes’ team of journalists and contributors, D’Vorkin notes.

Although the right tools are important, D’Vorkin emphasizes that a rigorous onboarding process has resulted in the team of experts who are at the heart of Forbes’ content strategy. “Once we vet contributors, we give them the tools to self-publish, without there being a gatekeeper in the way,” he says. “Our system, both human and technological, is designed to monitor content very carefully and quickly-after publishing it.”

Part of the feedback involves subscriber feedback, which each content creator is required to monitor. “In every layer of our system, there is a built-in ‘meritocracy filter,’ which includes the audience,” he adds. “Our commenting system requires that the author engage with comments from the community. He or she can simply say ‘yes, I approve this comment,’ meaning that it’s productive, or disagrees with me in a productive way, or it takes the story forward.”

See also: Media Execs Share Game-Changing Tech Initiatives

Once the author approves the comment, it’s displayed with the article by default. “You can find the comments of anybody who’s just yelling, screaming, and being irrational, if you want, but it’s an extra click,” D’Vorkin says. “Because of that system, most people have figured that out. They then decide not to comment-unless they’re going to bring their A game.”

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06/12/2013

Delving Deeper Into the New Professional Publishing Ecosystem


Delving deeper into new publishing ecosystem

The changing publishing system is about so much more than just ebooks and print books — and what each of these ‘formats’ (and that’s ALL they are – just formats of the ‘printed word’) are doing to each other or to the publishing industry in general.

There has been some real structural changes to writing and publishing processes that enable some truly amazing things — and these changes are not related so much to past publishing industry changes as to entirely new concepts that were just not foreseeable in the ‘Gutenberg past’ that so many can’t seem to shake out of; especially when arguing ‘publishing-change-that-really-isn’t-change-but-just-an-extension-of-past-changes’.

“Draft”, a streamlined online word processor with version control, seems to be a good place to attempt this, hopefully, enlightening discussion:

By Eric Eldon in Tech Crunch:

 

In Writing Platform Push, Draft Lets You Collaborate Then Publish Anywhere

Draft, a streamlined online word processor with version control, is getting deeper into the new professional publishing ecosystem.

The one-man team of Nathan Kontny has just introduced a new REST API that’ll let any news outfit or other publishing organization connect Draft to the other software it uses. If you’re BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post* or another media company with a big mix of full- and part-time writers, you could use the API to let writers and editors work through versions together in Draft then publish straight to your custom content management system.

Meanwhile, if you’re running a group blog using a standard setup from WordPress or Blogger and you want a more pristine, versioned environment, Draft now lets you publish from it to them.

Since launching in March, it has also added features to publish to Tumblr, Twitter and most recently LinkedIn and MailChimp (which should be particularly useful to content marketers).

Beyond publishing out, Kontny has also made it much easier to pull in content for a draft. He’s added audio and video transcription, a two-way sync tool with file storage services like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive, and a Chrome extension that lets you pull text into a new or existing draft.

Pulling in content

The updates have been coming fast. He’s also built commenting so collaborators can discuss specific sections of a draft, and simple social analytics that let you measure tweets about your writing based on word count, day of the week and reading comprehension level.

Draft, and private-beta competitors like Editorially and Poetica (please invite me, folks) are trying to create a new writing-centric platform to go along with the leading publishing tools of the day. It plays friendly with publishing tools, but isn’t trying to deal with website design and hosting or massive backend content management.

The API and publishing options, the transcription and syncing tools, and comments all help it toward that goal.

I have a suggestion…

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01/10/2013

Publishing – Using Technology To Get Away From Technology


CEO Perspectives - FOLIO MagazineArianna-HuffingtonSay what? — Isn’t that an oxymoron? 

You might think so at first, but it is actually a very astutely worded observation by Arianna Huffington in her vision of 2013 publishing/media trends — She postulates three trends, to be exact, that are off the beaten path but truly hit the nail on the head — in this writers opinion 🙂

Arianna’s three 2013 media trends (as well as 8 other publishing leaders’ forecasts) are presented in CEO Perspectives from the December, 2012 FOLIO magazine (the magazine for magazine management):

CEO Perspectives/Arianna Huffington (President and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group)

When I look ahead to what 2013 holds for the media industry, three trends stand out. First, the shift from presentation to participation means that the days of the Media Gods on Mt. Olympus telling us how things are have ended. People are tired of being talked to; they want to be talked with. Our new global conversation has allowed media to engage with readers in totally new ways. The success of brands in the future will depend upon understanding this new relationship.

If the first trend is a Garden of Eden blooming with engagement and self-expression, the second trend is the snake in the garden: The temptation to fetishize the social and viral for their own sake and lose ourselves in technology. Fortunately there is a powerful, countervailing force using technology to get away from technology, reflected in apps and features like Freedom, Do Not Disturb, and HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul—which we’ll be unveiling at CES in January. I realize there’s a paradox in the idea that an app can help deliver us from technology, but the solution to tech overload isn’t no technology, but better technology.

The third trend is the shift from searching for information to searching for meaning. People are using technology to connect with others not just around similar passions and interests, but around the causes and values that most resonate with them. And the shift isn’t confined to individuals. More and more, brands are identifying with a cause, and making that identification a central part of their ethos.

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12/10/2011

Publishing is Becoming Community Based and Technology-Driven


A little food for thought tonight from Liz Walsh RE publishing apps in her article for PSFK.com How Publishing Apps Connect With Readers In Real Life.

Liz synopsizes the Publishing Apps Expo held in New York City this week and includes a lot of informative links:

Is there a difference between the online and ‘real life’ customer? How do publishers get information about their readers? What is the best social networking strategy? Will the introduction of 7″ tablets change the way publishers attempt to engage their readers? At the Publishing App Expo this week, sponsored by Mediabistro, Galleycat, and eBookNewser, experts in media and app development discussed how the industry is evolving.

Panelists included Ryan Bloom of Lulu, Aziz Isham of Arcade Sunshine Media, Jeanniey Mullen of Zinio, and Laura Owen, the panel moderator and writer for paidContent.

The panel first focused on the differences between digital and print consumption. On a tablet, a user might read through a magazine thirty times — the convenience of always having the publication handy makes this possible, whereas the average reader might only go through that same magazine three times in print. However, tablets bring good news for both kinds of publishing: much of what we read is informed by recommendations from others. If one person owns the digital version, a recommendation drives sales for both types of content.

Everyone emphasized the need to connect publishers with readers. Now, the industry relies on anecdotal evidence and information released from app stores like Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. But publishers need a direct link. If you’re trying to find your audience, you might consider hiring a data scientist, the next hot job in technology that is rapidly gaining demand.

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