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Reports from the Field

Several MPublishing members recently returned from a mini-conference in Chicago. Jason Colman from Digital Publishing Production sums it up for us:


Along with two other MPublishing staff, I made the trek to Chicago for the O’Reilly Tools of Change Mini-Conference on April 9th. The Mini TOC made for an interesting mix of folks from university presses, small publishing houses, libraries, and big corporations.

Brian Fitzpatrick, who founded Google’s Chicago engineering office, spoke about the efforts of Google’s “Data Liberation Front”, a team at Google working to improve the portability of user data in the company’s products. It was encouraging to see data openness and interchangability presented as a tool for furthering a corporation’s interest, rather than an obstacle to success. Google Takeout allows you to download an archive of your data from most of Google’s more popular services.

Clay Johnson reprised his TOC talk about his book, The Information Diet. His argument – that the current media environment encourages us to get stuck in an infinite confirmation bias loop – is compelling and worrisome. It’s worth checking him out on YouTube.

Nick Disabato talked about his experience self-publishing a quarterly journal about design and technology called Distance. He used Kickstarter to fund the journal’s launch, doing as much as he could himself and “Jamming Econo” to keep overhead down.

Leading with H.L. Mencken’s belief that “one civilized reader is worth a thousand boneheads,” JC Gabel and Josh Schollmeyer gave the history of the re-launching of the Chicagoan magazine. Originally a failed counterpart to the New Yorker during the Great Depression, the new Chicagoan will publish long-form prose in print, web, and tablet formats, each with different content and packaged together in a single subscription model. With many publishers moving to á la carte models or duplicating content across platforms, Gabel and Schollmeyer offered an interesting contrast to conventional wisdom.

All in all, a great mini-conference! For more info, you can visit the O’Reilly Site.

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