This past September I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the Do Lectures in Wales. It was an honor to be there and I wrote all about it. Given the opportunity and means, you should attend next year.
The talk, however, is something about which I've yet to write. 1
I went to Wales with one set of slides up my sleeve and ended up presenting something almost entirely different. This is — now that I think about it — how talks should go. Built on the fly. A sort of performance art erected on genuine experience and knowledge. Improvisation. Or, perhaps not. But, undeniably, because of the rapidly changing nature of publishing, it's almost impossible to repeat the same talk about books with a straight face. I've spoken at several conferences in the last few months and the data in the presentations — by necessity — was updated at the very last minute. Things are moving fast. And it's fun.
At Do, the changes I made were less influenced by the industry, and more because of the conference attendees. I presented on day three. Midway through day one I was altering my slides. The more I listened to these amazing folks describing their amazing efforts, the more apparent became the grossly under utilized infrastructure of contemporary publishing.
I gutted my talk. Gone was most of the technical babble (then resurrected for Web Directions South, a tech oriented event). Added were real life examples of tangible, digitally influenced changes in the publishing chain. Examples that were representative of new ways of funding books, new ways of writing books and new ways of building publishing companies around communities.
Everything in the talk pivots around a single node regarding digital media: we must shift from the question of, "How do we make books digital?" To, "How does digital affect books?" It's the difference between Microsoft Encarta and Wikipedia. And it's the difference between thinking publishing can't work for you, to understanding how it can.
I had a blast preparing for, sweating over, memorizing all those names, and finally delivering this talk. I hope you folks enjoy it.