This post, by Evan Schnittman, originally appeared on his Black Plastic Glasses blog on 8/1/11.
It was a seemingly innocuous situation… I was sitting in a room filled with publishing types: book publishers, librarians, agents, industry press, metadata specialists, and consultants of varying shapes and sizes. We were there in an advisory role to one of the digital publishing conferences.
Things started innocently enough – the usual suspects began to chime in (I am shamelessly unable NOT to talk in a group). As I spoke I began to feel a strong sense of familiarity. And that feeling grew and grew as the conversation rolled forward until I felt I was having a deja vu on steroids moment. It dawned on me that I was in the exact same discussion about the exact same conference in the exact same room as I was last year. And you know what – it wasn’t déjà vu, it was reality.
We were having the same discussion because we were talking about digital as if it were a new way of thinking, publishing, selling, etc. We were circling the carcass of a topic that had been discussed ad infinitum – because it was all speculation and postulation. And nothing is better fodder for discursive debate than speculation and postulation!
At that moment I realized the world of publishing is now so thoroughly changed by digital, that digital is no longer a discrete topic/subtopic/theme/raison d’etre. Digital has ceased to be an independent, stand-alone, separate entity; digital is now blended into the very fabric of the entire publishing business.
And so, as we sat and attempted to determine the topics of a conference that would be presented to hundreds of participants and thousands more via broadcast and Twitter, we became stuck on what was possible and practical to discuss.