Still undergoing a few twekas but looks good.
Here ya go… the ePub of “PubSweet – how to build a publishing platform”:
I was on my way to South Africa and it seems they changed the Visa requirements for NZers. I have been plenty of times before and always got a visa at the airport. So, I check ‘just in case’ – and I have to apply at an Embassy for a personal interview and the visa processing would take min 7 working days and not guaranteed.
So, I miss out on the Decolonising the Internet conf my buddy Anasuya is putting on plus we were going to be on a Shuttleworth panel at Wikimania. Sucks. But, its one of the few times I have had visa hassles as NZers are seen as ‘mostly harmless’ – so I can’t really complain. Except I really wanted to be there…ah well…so, last moment reschedule lands me in Mozambique for a 2 week holiday. Now I certainly can’t complain about that and not even going to try…
Rented a small apartment on the beach and a surfboard… if you want to find me I might not be so easy to find for the next wee while…
They look awesome…the books took 3 days to write in a Book Sprint. 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, its about some of the tech 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? Its important because the publishing industry has been crippled by expensive, dysfunctional, ‘big box’ platforms for a very long time. Its 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 softwares 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? Its not easy because no one is sharing leanings. 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 than means one more year living the good life, raking in the revenues (these 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 make 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. Thats 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… its 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 surfn….
Some years ago I came up with a methodology called Book Sprints. It is a facilitated process that takes a group of people to collaborate on producing a book in 5 days. Zero to book in 5 days as we say.
There has much I have learned from this methodology which can be re-purposed. After 10 years working with Book Sprints (10th anniversary this year!) I now know a lot more about why it works and what kind of situations would fit this kind of process. For example, facilitated methods like this don’t work when there is just one person that has the knowledge that is needed in a book. For help with this one author approach, you need either a coach or a ghostwriter. Ironically, when I started Book Sprints I was in exactly this situation…I couldn’t Book Sprint about Book Sprints because I was the only one doing them.
But when you get two or more people …it starts to get interesting…. this is because Book Sprints are very good at developing a shared mental model of the problem very fast. The more minds with the right domain knowledge that come at this together, the better the result… with a few caveats… For example, it seems a natural limit for the number of minds to share the process is about 15 max. That’s because too many minds go too far too fast and you might end up with quite a lot of fragmentation. However, if you have the right people, the right methodology, and (most importantly) an experienced facilitator that knows how to wield the methodology – then magic can happen.
Anyway… I am now applying myself to taking these lessons and developing a new methodology, working title ‘Workflow Sprints’….what is it? Well… I have seen similar problems with the speed of production for books in the software world… The problem is – how do you redesign a (much) better workflow, and then design a platform to meet those needs quickly? What I see happening is that organisations will employ someone external, or re-deploy internal staff, to do a workflow audit, interviewing all parties, create a report with flow diagrams, and then use this as a basis for the developers to imagine a better way of doing things. It is a very linear and disconnected process, and it takes a very long time.
I believe that I can facilitate a group to do this in 2 days. In fact, I’ve already done it. Recently I went to EBI (Europe PMC folks) to do a workshop on their workflow. In a day we had redesigned it and had mocks ready to go. I was curious to see how much this remained true over time, and it appears that they are sticking to this design. They will fill it out, to be sure, but they had the starting point in a day.
It’s not the first time I’ve facilitated workflow development in a couple of days; there have been a lot of workshops I facilitated with various publishing entities on the way, but this was the first time I felt confident enough to go in boots and all. Now that I see how the process can work ,I’m going to try and make this a thing. I have thought about the workflow I want in order for this to happen, and I’ll be trying it as a full-blown method and workflow in the next few months with an org or two. The aim is to produce a summary of the current workflow (this takes a long time if using a legacy ‘interview’ process and much nuance is missed and I’m confident we can get a better result), a summary of the optimised / improved workflow, and wireframes of the new platform. All in 2 days. Which also means I can make this very cost-effective, a whole lot faster than legacy processes, with better results and internal buy-in since it’s the internal staff that design the new workflow and platform for themselves.
It is quite an efficiency. I’m hoping it will be something publishers can consider doing in the early phase of deciding whether they want to migrate to better workflows.
Quite possibly, you think this is a big call. But I’ve done this before. When I started Book Sprints I didn’t come across anyone that thought it was possible… this feels very similar.
I think it is going to work very well. There will always be challenges as you can’t anticipate how all the variables at play will come together on the day. But I have been there before with Book Sprints, and I’m pretty confident in my facilitation skills… So here goes….
Once I’ve proven this out with a few orgs I think this could prove to be extremely beneficial to any publishing org that is pondering how they can improve their workflow – with or without new technology. It could be useful for any org, for that matter. Interesting days.
Some photos below of some of the orgs I worked with to help define this process…
Jure and Yannis came to NZ for a tech meet. We were lucky Nokome from Stencil.a also came up for a few days 🙂 We did some good work and also saw the sights. Many of the below photos by Jure.
Got a new lappy as my other one was dying… I’m very hard on my laptops, dragging them around the world in all sorts of conditions. They usually fall apart after 1-2 years… anyways, with this one I’m looking to go full-vege with open source… Firefox and no Chrome/Chromium is the main new approach, and also I’m trying desperately not to log into google products (I have a google account as people send gdocs etc to me)… let’s see how far we get… Also, for the first time I installed Ubuntu with an encrypted hard disk and home partition… combined with PGP, VPN, and long passwords I’m following my own advice at long last….