David Wiley has an interesting conversation with Larry Lipsitz about the changes in publishing:
In days of yore, publishing and distributing information was a capital intensive business. But it simply isn’t anymore. In my opinion, “publishers” need to understand that their value no longer comes from disseminating information. We can all do that ourselves(this list, our blogs, and print-on-demand services like lulu.com being examples). There is still value to add, however, in providing editorial services and facilitating peer review. I believe that “publishers” who think their value to the academic ecosystem comes mainly from the fact that they can get information to people (i.e., their value is in their ability to “publish”) have their eyes closed…
This is an intruging line of thinking, to me, because there is no doubt that the value of paper texts and books is changing. I’m not saying we get rid of books, but it sure feels like they are becoming more and more irrelevant from a content standpoint. (They are, however, certainly still relevant from a delivery standpoint because we’re nowhere near to the point where people are ready to give up paper.) Texts are collectors of information that get frozen in time, when you think about it. And, as I said yesterday, I really think more and more we’re going to find power in those tools that connect content rather than just collect it. Books do a cruddy job of connecting us to other content. Blogs and wikis and these other tools are all about connecting content. I think I’m just starting to fully understand how important that is.
David goes on to say that while publishers can still add value in editing and review, where they no longer have value is in disseminating the information and in the fact that they retain all of the copyrights. Read the whole thing to get a more well-rounded picture.
And there is another post brewing here…what really is the value that schools have to offer when the information they impart is freely available elsewhere?
Anne Ringer says
(A quick thank you Will before my response… I was able to learn from you at the ILILE workshop and I am currently working on my own blog and learning the ropes of blogs. I can’t wait to share this with my students and colleagues!)
So, here it goes – my thoughts on what value schools will have… School is where you can interact with human beings in the flesh- something that cannot be done online, sitting at a computer by yourself. I think human contact, face to face contact, is extremely important to feel connected and real.
In addition to the social aspect, I think that the job of schools, not their value, will change. While you may be able to get information freely, how will students know how to digest that information? How to discriminate between fact and fiction? I see my job as a social studies teacher helping students take the information available to them and doing something with it.
Cole Camplese says
This is interesting to me … the thing that really gets me is that publishers really could continue to contribute if they did focus their energies on the quality of their products and maybe by providing an online service that helps us select quality content from the web. There is just so much “stuff” out there and it is very difficult to decide quickly what is good and what is lousy … the quality of learning objects is becoming more and more of a challenge to get. As more stuff is placed on the web, it gets more difficult what is a solid learning resource. Nice piece.
Jay Cross says
Publishers also need to reassess their timing. I am writing a book on Informal Learning. My manuscript is due November 2005. The book will hit the shelves November 2006. Their process takes a year! Geez. You can make a Toyota in what — a day?