Live-blogging Tools of Change (TOC2011) Conference

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Blurb will be bringing you some live reports from the inner recesses of the NYC Sheraton, at the Tools of Change 2011 conference, which is jam-packed with publishing folks.

 Live blogging Tools of Change (TOC2011) ConferenceGood morning, we’re at “Standards in Flux”, with Bill Kasdorf (Apex Content Solutions), Mark Bide (EDItEUR), George Kerscher (Daisy Consortium), and Norman Walsh (MarkLogic Corporation). This looks to be a bit dry, especially for first thing. Time to get the geek on.

Use of HTML5 and CSS3 in ePub was dilemma. How can ePub be based on unfinished HTML5. ePub3 is “intentionally permissive” but has core set of requirements. DocBook, TEI, NLM in flux, while nextpub, and DAISY coming together around common delivery standard (ePub).

Ok, a bunch of standards:

  • EPub3 will in public draft tomorrow (!) based on HTML5, CSS3, and ECMAScript. Will be final by May 2011. Now refers to publications, not books: magazines, manuals, newspapers, business documents. Oops Bill corrected himself and said he wasn’t supposed to say tomorrow, but that the public draft release is “imminent”. Hm.
  • nextPub, magazine standard for tablets. Main need is to handle complex layouts. Delivery happens more “granularly”; articles and feeds. Draft early this year. Will be “compatible” with ePub 3. Hm.
  • DAISY4: due April, authoring and delivery for video and interactivity. XML vocabulary is in ePub 2.
  • DocBook Publishers Schema. Adds option of Dublin Core metadata, elements for dialogue, poetry, drama. Expands metadata to be better for non-technical publications.
  • MathML 3.0 for K-12 education. Bill really sounds like he’s saying “Meth”; e.g. “Meth problems can be created for school kids.”
  • Book Industry Study Group has created Content Structure Working Group, responsible for ONIX. ONIX 3.0 is metadata conduit for exchanging info in book trade.
  • ISBN: Lots of mess around how ISBNs are being used, no consistency in identifiers for different formats and versions.

Two big takeaways:

  1. Don’t use ePub for core content, it’s a delivery mechanism.
  2. Metadata for books is how the whole business will hang together.

Ok, now Mark Bide, VP EDitEUR (trade standards for books for supply chains). He says he needs “group therapy” on things that are “worrying him.” Sounds good!

“Talking about standards and metadata is about as exciting as talking about a bag of cement.” But! It’s the cement that “holds the bricks together.” I’m sold.

“Metadata is the only way to sell your products in those parts of the market that are growing.”

Mark is now going deeply into the needs for identifiers, unambiguous ways of describing what is “the same” and what is “different.” I am starting to doubt my own identity. Maybe I am just a class of things, not an individual; by Mark’s definition I am. Hm. His point is that ISBNs are being used in a fast and “loose” way. I hadn’t thought about them that way!

“What happens when we use the same identifier for two different things? We destroy information.” Yikes!

ONIX 3 (the standard for telling retailers about your book) will now have 6 blocks, independently updatable for adding sales rights, format descriptions, and market-specific sales info. New definitions for “<collection>.” Now includes information about underlying format of e-Book, what the preview should be (sample chapter). All this has been much better for printed books than E-Books, time to step up.

Now, on to compliance. Or, “codify the boring.” “We’re operating in a world where everyone is saying ‘my cable is better than your cable’.” “We’re going to end up in a world where we cannot plug anything together at all.” Oy.

“The nice thing about standards is there are so many of them to choose from.”

“No one downstream from us cares if we’re publishers or movie studios or record labels, they care about what we have to sell them, and that information” will come from metadata. I suppose that goes for book-makers too.

Identifiers and social media: “standards are created before they’re needed.” Need is to provide a way for authors to say “here’s who I am, I wrote these books” in social networks. Hm, in academic world makes sense, but in social networks I would rather use Facebook open graph. Making a “home” web address for people and books is best done by the authors themselves!


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  1. yes, get your geek on! i am still in my pajamas.
    looking forward to more updates “live” : )

    By Jill DEtweiler
      February 14, 2011 – 2:49 pm   Permalink
  2. Nice live-blogging. Very good summary.

      February 14, 2011 – 2:58 pm   Permalink

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