BoSacks: No B.S.: The New Rules for Publishing
What are the 'new rules' in a world where everyone, including grandma, can be a publisher and have a global following? What are the long-term consequences of trying to maintain our past business models in a completely changed environment? We were once comfortable experts in manufacturing and cloning millions of copies of a static product called a printed magazine. The print magazine was finished with specific regularity, and sometimes closed and put to bed two months before it got into the readers' happy hands. How do we, as publishers, compete with today's instantaneous information-distribution systems?
The interesting thing is that the importance of what we do as publishers hasn't changed; we are still journalists, chroniclers and storytellers. The writing and importance of our content hasn't changed, nor has the public's desire to know things, to be entertained and kept informed about their interests and business essentials.
Our business, really, has always been in a continuous state of transformation. Perhaps we were lulled into a false sense of security when Gutenberg invented movable type and nothing seemed to change for 600 years. Entrepreneurs looked at the accomplishment of the printing press and knew how to make money. They did so for half a millennium. Now, we seem to be confused and, perhaps as an industry, we have lost our edge. We believed we were invincible at the very pinnacle of information distribution. We were wrong.
Media (and publishing) is nothing more or less than information distribution. We are the product of 4.5 billion years of slow industrial evolution. The evolutionary process of communication has never stopped, and never will. Printing on paper has been really just a transitional process. It is not the climax of information distribution.
Today's technologic advances are so revolutionary and occurring at such an accelerated pace that I question whether we can truly understand and properly react to them. I expect that we are only at the very beginning of innovations and inventions that will proceed for generations at a speed far beyond our ability to understand, much less forecast.