Thinking through the evolution of network workflows in Publishing

notes for a possible article

Networkflows – a framework for the Evolution of Publishing Workflows

The idea – to define evolutionary stages of Publishing Workflows. Suggested starting 5 are :


  1. Paper
  2. Paper-like digital (digitalised paper)
  3. Non-linear digital
  4. Concurrent
  5. Enlightened collaboration
  • Define workflow

Stage 1 Paper

  • The past – paper and stamps

Stage 2 Post Paper Digital (paper-like)

  • Current state of Publishing workflows
    • Don’t restrain to only journals if possible – more applicable if we keep it wide eg books, micropubs, journal articles, manuscripts of all kinds
    • Current workflows based on post-→digital paper (paper=MS Word, email = envelope+stamp)
    • Operate on the object then send to the next person
    • Linear
    • Each stage gated (one operator per stage)
    • Like a conveyor belt – uni-directional
    • Going ’backwards’ is difficult
    • Difficult to account for the non-linear or ad-hod
    • Control of edits via ‘who holds the doc’ + track changes
    • Many softwares for (eg) managing journals are called workflow systems but really they are for tracking progress and storage. Tracking is also good to use here as it is related to paper

Stage 3 Non-linear (also paper-like?) …The Pizza Model (needs better analogy…maybe car assembly?)

  • Moving Publishing into the network – stage 1 (the pizza table)
    • It is the second stage of digital evolution for publishing
      • Paper → post-paper (1st stage digital) → the network
        • There will be plenty of published theory on the above
        • The pizza theory – a round table, not a conveyor belt
        • Many people can improve the pizza
        • The folks pass the pizza around in any direction
        • Still gated
        • Non-linear, or at least partially linear
        • Actions determined on an ad-hoc basis
        • The pizza can go back and forwards in the flow easily
        • All actors can see what is going on with the pizza

Stage 4 Concurrent collaboration

  • Moving Publishing into the network – stage 2 (concurrent collaboration)
    • Needs a good analogy (shared surface?)
    • The third stage of the digital evolution for publishing
    • People can operate at any time, or on any part of the object
    • Communication is in real time, reflecting more of a conversation
    • Decisions made through conversation
    • Accountability via tools that enable ‘breadcrumbs’ and rollbacks

Stage 5 – enlightened collaboration

  • Authorship starts to dissolve
  • Roles become fluid
  • Facilitation becomes the most important tool
    • Eg Book Sprints
  • Facilitation maintains trust
  • Everyone has the mandate to change the object
  • Flattened hierarchy
  • Comment on diversity
  • Accountability comes via conversation and group relationships
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *