Monday, October 01, 2007

Widgets and Namespaces

Having just had four days holiday without web-access, one realises that things move too quickly right now. Here is some stuff that I hope to catch up with:

Tim O'Reilly posts about Adobe opening up Share, a generalisable document widget system. A kind of YouTube for documents. Looks interesting and one more copyright challenge for publishers and authors to think about. Yet another reason for keeping close control of those PDF files before they get shared in ways that were not possible a few years ago! But, I wonder whether Adobe have positioned this quite right: {I only raise the question} - perhaps the 'Share' concept is missing the revolutionary point about the YouTube analogy. YouTube was viral because it was very easy to share videos that way, but I reckon that the key step forward with YouTube (and similar services) is that they have shown how it is possible, useful, viral and creative to QUOTE videos. Quoting is much more productive and creative than another potentially abusive sharing technology......The problem of standards, of 'fair use' and techniques of digital quotation through the web (which is one step beyond citation and mere linking) has not yet been solved.

The Exact Editions/Berkshire announcement drew an insightful and appreciative response from Outsell:

There are services which offer similar opportunities, Amazon’s Search Inside! being a prime example. However, the functionality is limited when compared to Exact Editions, both for the publisher and the end user - through Amazon, users can only search inside one book at a time, for instance, and can never look at every page of a single title. This move from Berkshire may indicate that book publishers are becoming less cautious about exposing their content on the web, and more likely to start experimenting in earnest with ways in which the networked environment can not only help to boost sales, but can also deliver valuable new functionality around existing content.
I suppose Kate Worlock's way of putting this point makes it clear that the Exact Editions service is also doing what the new Adobe system is doing, but our system makes it easy for the publisher to control and brand the content in the network environment, and with our clipper the quotation carries the attribution/citation with the quotation. Her conclusion is the essence: "Not only boost sales but deliver new functionality....." I will remember to reuse that phrase (with proper attribution to Kate Worlock of course).

This looked interesting on harmonising meta-data: Lorcan Dempsey blog, on why we need a Strunk and White for namespaces.

Finally, just before I took my break, Richard Charkin said goodbye to Macmillan and set sail for Bloomsbury. The trade press reports it here. Richard is such a talented academic and STM publisher that I will lay long odds that Bloomsbury will now make some forays in that direction. STM publishing has become way too congested, predictable and costive. Time for a shakeup and some innovation. Bloomsbury could do that.

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