“PubSweet – How to Build a Publishing Platform” – Books Arrived!

They look awesome…the books took 3 days to write in a Book Sprint (edited and illustrated as well).  Output from Editoria to book-formatted PDF, send to the printers… printers took 3 times as long to print the books as it took us to write it and make the design-ready copy 🙂



So… you might be wondering … just what is this book all about? Well, it’s about some of the technology the Coko community is building. And what does that tech do? In the main, it helps you build publishing platforms… And why is that important? It’s important because the publishing industry has been crippled by expensive, dysfunctional, ‘big box’ platforms for a very long time. It’s really terrible – these systems have been sitting pretty and earning a lot of money off the backs of the publishing of critical information that, at the end of the day, needs to get out there so we can move the world along. These proprietary platforms slow down the sharing of essential information and make it expensive at the same time – and we are aiming to put a stop to that.

Publishing platforms have been a mystery to many – how do you make them? What should they do? How do we even think about it? It’s not easy because no one is sharing their learning. Why would ‘big box’ vendors want to share what they have learned about building publishing platforms with potential competitors? No good reason. In fact, quite the opposite – the harder it is for ‘others’ to build publishing platforms, the better for them, they can keep their clients’ data incarcerated within their systems that much longer, and that means one more year living the good life, raking in the revenues (their platforms are unbelievably expensive).

Many efforts have been made to get out of these systems but they have largely failed. Until now… Our aim is take these suckers down. We’ll do it one step at a time, one publisher at a time. We’ll demystify the process of making publishing platforms. We’ll build them faster, cheaper and better. We’ll turn them into something you can run for a tiny fraction of your current vendor agreement. …we’ll work it all out because the community is smart, experienced, talented and growing. Plus, they are having a great time doing it. That’s the thing about communities with a mission – if they are making progress and having fun, they are unstoppable.

That day is coming. The good news is… it’s all open source. You can’t buy it from us, cause we have nothing to sell. We are literally giving it away….

Write to me if you want a copy of the book 🙂 I’ll mail one to ya…y’know…when I back from surf’n….

Best Coffee in Uganda

I’m in Kampala for a few days and found an amazing coffee house. Its pretty well known but well worth finding if you come this way… 1000 Cups….

check it…some of their specialty coffees, all made with Espresso…


Above coffee is ‘salted caramel’…delicious…


In the above the coffee has ground peanuts and chocolate in the bottom….mmmm


Looking for work?

eLife, our buddies and comrades, are looking for a Node dev to work with them (and us) on their PubSweet platform…

“We are now seeking a full stack Node.js Developer to work on the development, automation, monitoring, architecture and testing of a system we are co-developing with other non-profits and publishers.”


Would be a (Pub)Sweeeeeeeet job!….


In Uganda

I’m in Uganda (Kampala) working with a collection of East African countries to help them move towards some agreements on renewable energy policy. Here for two days at the invitation of UNECA and the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO), presenting tomorrow.


How is this possible? Well, this presentation brings together two worlds – Book Sprints and Coko. They are looking at a Book Sprint which would also use Editoria. There is some chance they may also need help with Journal tooling for a new journal (East African Journal of Science, Technology and Innovation)… looking into it all.

The presentations so far have been very interesting, covering the renewable energy policy and practices in each of the East African nations. Some interesting facts including the largest use for non-sustainable energy in these regions comes from cooking as most homes, workspaces and restaurants use wood and coal (biomass).

The interesting thing about their use of Book Sprints, is that it is not the book that is important, but the process of generating consensus that the method is so successful at. Its a similar story we have also heard from large NGOs like USAID. It is also what the European Commission were most interested in when I spoke to them last week in Brussels.

Hey Zeus, Where ya going?

So…. when I first came to Europe, around 1998 or so, I came for a conference in Amsterdam, and then found myself walking across the Macedonian – Greek border trying to get away from a potential war zone. It’s a long story, but once over the border I took a taxi to Thessaloniki, then a train to Athens. I got the first hotel I could find, booked a room, went to the roof and drank as many cocktails as my remaining DeutscheMark could buy while watching the sunset over the Acropolis…

It was quite a night for me. I was definitely relieved to be safe, although looking back I don’t think there was anything to worry about. But also, I was super happy and it was quite a surreal experience as I loved studying ancient Greece when I was at college. I knew everything about the Greek gods and myths, and there I was looking at the Acropolis. I spent the next day a little hungover crawling all over it, checking the Parthenon out, trying to work out which was the temple of Athena Nike etc…

Now… many years later, when I come to see the Athens Coko team, I walk to work passing the Acropolis. Is kinda amazing. And then every now and then I take the time to check things out. Like today… my route took me past the Temple of Zeus… so I took the time to have a wander around….

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Whoot! That building in the background is the Parthenon 🙂

Also, today I arrived at the Athens office and a radio I had ordered had turned up. It is the same model as the one I had when I lived in Latvia as a radio artist. It’s from the 1960s and was the first mass-produced transistor radio in Russia. They used to be made in Riga where I spent a lot of time.

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So happy to have this…it kinda was the inspiration for one of the artworks I did a long time ago… http://wifio.net/


Lotte Meijer did the beautiful design and we made a big two-dimensional cut out installation. You could actually tune the cardboard radio into the local wifi networks and listen to local net traffic read out using a sniffer and text-to-speech synthesis.


Anyways… cool days…here’s a video that the title of this post sorta comes from… Hey Seuss by NZ band the 3Ds…one of my favs from the ole days… awesome…