About The Publishing Project
“Machines challenge certainty so well. They should not be able to move. But they do. They turn, and move, and never cease — there is always an engine going, somewhere — like generations of silver hearts they keep the faith of the world and stoke imagination in its continued and splendid rebellion.”
— Mark Helprin Winter’s Tale
Over the past 3 to 5 years my interest has turned into ebooks and digital publishing. I first became interested in ebooks as part of my research into Docbook-based digital content creation toolset.
Docbook has always been my favorite authoring tool and it still one of my preferred tools for documentation but the more I dived into ePub publishing the more I realized that while Docbook can create multiple formats from the same source XML document, the ePub and HTML functionality is geared for technical documentation and, limited, non-technical publishing; which requires a new set of source documents with different interpretations of the XML tags I was already familiar with.
I stopped looking at digital publishing for a couple years. I was too busy working in Instructional Design and moving cross country and back to pay much attention to researching and learning about ebooks. While in Georgia I met Dr. Frank Lowney whose research interest was how to leverage e-books in higher education.
Dr. Lowney’s interest in the content creation and publishing process rekindled mine. I looked at the different tools and technologies and how we could best leverage them.
The first question I asked was whether we should limit this ability to create content to teachers and higher education. The answer, obvious to me, is no. We can all create and publish digital content.
As I moved in my research the questions changed. From who should create content to how do we make content creation easier and how do we distribute it in a world where digital technologies have become more mobile and more fragmented to exploring ways in which we can leverage digital tools and technologies to make content more engaging and interactive
These have been the question on my mind for the last few months. The big question sums up like this: Can we build a community around digital content like we do with print media. Can we recreate the reading circle or the casual conversation about our content in the digital medium? How do we build relationships around our digital content just as we do with our printed media?
How does digital changes publishing?
I’ve been researching the convergence of different publishing technologies for the last 3 years. I’ve become proficient with reflowable ebooks, Kindle format books and now I’m working with fixed layout and read aloud books yet the more I work in ebook creation the more I realized that I’m asking the wrong questions.
Rather than thinking about how to cram content into a container and release it to the world we need to think how does the digital environment affect the container, the content, the tools and the publishing process.
two approaches to digital content
For those of us old enough to remember, Microsoft Encarta (published from 1993 to 2009) was an early attempt at a multimedia encyclopedia. All the information fit in a CD-ROM and was repetitive and even the interactive features it had were of limited use.
Wikipedia took a different approach when it first launched. Rather than asking how can we put an encyclopedia into digital form, they asked how can we best leverage digital technologies to make a different and better kind of encyclopedia.
So, which answer do we pick? Do we choose our publishing tools to be like Encarta or Wikipedia?
The essays and resources in this site seek to explore possible answers to this question and present different options to deliver digital content to diverse digital audiences.