Read the news (Georgie Pauwels/flickr.com)

Publishing as learning

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

We are both consumers and producers of publications, whether in print or online. Publications are static containers for knowledge from the pre-Internet era. Even if they are now mostly digital, the ways in which we think about them remains tied to the past. Nevertheless, at their best, they provide a useful reference point, baseline, or benchmark to establish a high-quality standard that is easy, cheap and effective to disseminate. In the worst, they take so much time to prepare that they are out of date even before they are ready for circulation, reflect consensus that is so watered-down as to be unusable, and are expensive – especially when printed copies are needed – to produce, disseminate, stock and revise. With respect to the knowledge we consume, some of us may heretically scorn formal guidelines and other publications. Reading as an activity “remains a challenge”. Others manage to set aside time to …

Climbing La Soufrière in Saint Vincent (Ian Usher/Flickr)

Soufrière

Reda Sadki Publishing, Quotes

“What I like,” whispered my dinner companion, “is that these publishing types have survived the fire of digital transformation, emerging out of the boiling pits of disruption, and all of that. Some were dismembered before, during, and after – acquired and merged, sold and resold. All paid a terrible price, but bear their bruises and scars proudly. They are not only smart but also scrappy, battle-seasoned veterans whose eyes still gleam with the thick knowledge that they produce. The culture (and, yes, the economy) that sustains their work is very much alive, circulating in networks that don’t care whether they are made of silicon or white matter. Blood, sweat and tears, man! And, yes, most if not all are showing a profit!” And then, like a drop of sulfuric acid on the rusty metal plate separating ‘education’ from ‘publishing’ in our fragmented knowledge universe: “Beats babbling on about 70-20-10, eh?” …

Bookshelves

Thick knowledge

Reda Sadki Content strategy, Learning strategy, Quotes

Toby Mundy on books as thick knowledge: […]Books have a unique place in our civilisation […] because they are the only medium for thick descriptions of the world that human beings possess. By ‘thick’ description, I mean an extended, detailed, evidence-based, written interpretation of a subject. If you want to write a feature or blog or wikipedia entry, be it about the origins of the first world war; the authoritarian turn in Russia; or the causes and effects of the 2008 financial crisis, in the end you will have to refer to a book. Or at least refer to other people who have referred to books. Even the best magazine pieces and TV documentaries — and the best of these are very good indeed — are only puddle-deep compared with the thick descriptions laid out in books. They are ‘thin’ descriptions and the creators and authors of them will have referred extensively to books …

Pietro Perugino's usage of perspective in the Delivery of the Keys fresco at the Sistine Chapel (1481–82) helped bring the Renaissance to Rome.

Vanishing point

Reda Sadki Published articles, Writing

Two parallel lines look like they eventually converge at the horizon. Technology’s chase for digital convergence, say between television and the Internet, raises interesting questions of its own, starting with what happens at the ‘vanishing point’ – and how to get there. How about publishing and learning? Semantico has a blog post based on John Helmer’s lively chat with Toby Green, OECD’s head of publishing, and myself. Yes, publishing has already been transformed by the amazing economy of effort of technology. Now it is struggling to find meaning in the throes of the changing nature of knowledge (as it’s locked in, so to speak, by its container view of knowledge). In the past, an ‘educational’ publisher was a specific breed and brand. In the hyper-connected present, where knowledge is a process (not a product), publishers who have already transformed themselves at least once (that is, they are still around) now have to consider how to …

Audio source missing

The End of Paper: Interview with Richard Padley of Semantico

Reda Sadki Writing

At the 2010 Tools of Change for Publishing conference in Frankfurt, we met Richard Padley of Semantico. He spoke at the conference about mobile platforms from the perspective of publishers faced with multiple delivery models including apps and the web. We started off our interview with Richard Padley by asking: What does the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement mean to you? So, is it the end of paper? Even if I tell you that 30% of IFRC’s membership don’t have e-mail? Many people seem to think that PDF is a usable digital format for publications. So, what’s wrong with PDF? Even though EPUB is the basis for eBooks, in 2010 few people are familiar with this format. What’s right with EPUB? The Kindle is a single-purpose device. It does one thing, and is meant to it well enough to convince people who love printed books to cross the digital divide. …