I love the quotation attributed to Zhou en Lai — on being asked what he thought of the French Revolution, he replied “Its too early to say”. I love it because its so cautious, so careful and so definitively correct, but also engaged (“Mr Zhou: You mean the French Revolution is still happening?”). Its always going to be too early to say.
I feel like reaching the same conclusion about the extent to which publishing is now about building communities, or whether book and magazine publishers should really be engendering conversations. That seemed to be one big theme at this years Tools of Change Conference in NYC (you can reference presentations by Stephen Abram, Douglas Rushkoff ‘Whose Story is this Anyway, When Readers become Writers’, Gavin Bell and Ben Vershbow ‘Books as Conversations’). Excellent presentations they were, but all a bit too much under the sway of the ‘social graph’ which has become the analytical mode of the moment.
Publishers still need to concentrate on presenting content in the right way. Priority number one. The ‘right way’ includes with the appropriate access networks; and the right meta-data. Maybe that is all — and communities may be another story. Michael Bhaskar at thedigtalist is hitting the right notes.