Tools of Change

I have been in New York for the O’Reilly group’s Tools of Change conference this week. Many strong presentations, but it was especially interesting to see who was there and who was not. Some of the major publishers had a lot of staff there. Someone at Random House told me that they had 40 people there; Penguin/Pearson and Macmillan each had 10+. Who was not there? Adobe and Microsoft were represented, but if Google, Apple or Amazon had staff at the show I did not meet them or see them on the list of attendees. No speakers. The representation was overwhelmingly from the book publishing industry. Hardly any audience from the magazine or newspaper sectors.

What should we take from this? Well Google (GBS), Apple (iPhone) and Amazon (S3 and Kindle) are going to shake the publishing industry this year and their innovations are disruptive but are not really aimed at the publishing industry (except the Kindle). They do not need to be at the Tools of Change meeting or any publishing event to shake the industry. The coming revolution in the publishing industry is endogenous and will be disruptive, but publishers need to respond and some of the big publishers know this.

Two of the best talks: Aaron Swartz on Wikipedia and Open Library, and Tim O’Reilly on the Complications of Free.