Tools of Change 2009 — a nationwide gathering of top publishing professionals — opened in New York City just off Times Square on Monday morning with a startling look at the horizon for all of us who produce valuable information.
Care to read the whole series in this big, newsy week?
ReadTheSpirit Publisher John Hile has been attending these national conferences since 2007 and, as Editor of ReadTheSpirit, this is my second annual participation in this Who’s Who of top publishers and information producers. Pretty much everyone seriously searching for new ways to publish information for Americans is represented here.
For the first two years, this series of conferences focused on the next “Tools” involved in this revolution. In 2007 and 2008, participants were most interested in learning about software and new forms of social media — some of the powerful new “Tools” that are pushing traditional newspapers, magazines and even many book publishers into the sidelines of American culture.
This year? The message loud and clear is: Right now for media professionals, community leaders and consumers of media — it’s all about understanding the enormity of the Change more than it is about any of the specific Tools.
There is no vengeance, no anger in this revolution — nor is there any nostalgic mercy for traditional print media. The world, quite simply, is becoming a place where most people expect information to easily appear at their fingertips on demand.
There is no magical doorway on the horizon. No, it’s not Facebook. No, it’s not blogging, which generally is referred to here as an “old” idea. No, it’s not Twitter. They may be among the many milestones toward the future — but Americans are very restless and strong willed about how they spend their time. At this moment, no one has figured out a terrific solution to this scale of Change in Americans’ expectations.
I’m proud that spiritual media is represented here this year.
On Monday morning, ReadTheSpirit sent out a news item in our Planner newsletter inviting other spiritual-media executives to chat with us at TOC2009 — and, by Monday night, we had greeted men and women from Zondervan, the Upper Room, LifeWay Church Resources and Paraclete Press. Others may be here, too, but it’s a big conference and we haven’t rubbed shoulders with everyone yet.
However — the real news here this year (with media failures and bankruptcies raining down around us) is the in-your-face scope of the Change.
There’s nothing that drives home the historic nature of this revolution more strongly than who is Missing In Action at this conference. Sitting in a ballroom today, a speaker asked how many book publishers were in the room (and the majority raised hands), how many magazines (and some raised hands), how many independent media professionals (more raised hands) — and how many newspapers?
Not a hand went up.
That’s largely because newspapers have their own separate professional think tanks and conferences. Unfortunately, the key word in that sentence is “separate.” Their absence in the ballroom was a sign that newspaper leaders continue to see themselves nostalgically as a specific kind of print product. They don’t see themselves, even as they are failing from the weight of their business models, as nimble new media professionals in the digital delivery of information to consumers.
Those new-media-information-delivery folks are in New York this week.
And, in a nutshell, that describes the cul de sac where newspapers seem to be parking. The same thing is true for many M.I.A. magazines.
A freelance journalist and author sitting near me in one session pointed at the podium in the big ballroom, where a TOC O’Reilly logo is prominently displayed.
“How did a publisher of computer manuals like O’Reilly wind up becoming the rallying point of this big change? Why isn’t this kind of meeting of the minds in publishing convened by Publishers Weekly? Or the New York Times? Or Newsweek?” she asked.
In a specialized session on Monday for E-book publishing pioneers, our Publisher John Hile — who began his own career decades ago writing some of the first widely used communications software for PCs — counted about 100 men and women around him.
“It gives you a little shiver at a moment like this to look around the room and realize that you’re sitting there with the core group of people who are going to build the next generation of the E-books everybody will read,” John said. “We’re at that point in the change where, pretty much, they’re all there in a room together.”
We’re at that moment in this revolution.
For those new to ReadTheSpirit, you might want to roll back and read our own pioneering “first story” — published hundreds of stories ago in late 2007. We began Story 001 with the words: “We haven’t seen times like these in 500 years.” The next day in our Story 002, we quoted the late Pope John Paul II urging media professionals to accept that spiritual media must be central to this historic transformation: “The use of the techniques and the technologies of contemporary
communications is an integral part of (our) mission in the third
millennium,” John Paul II said.
Take heed. John Paul was a wise man. And the irony? This time it was a Pope who saw the rising urgency of the Reformation in spiritual media.
TOMORROW: Highlights of the fresh ideas surfacing at TOC2009.
PLEASE, Tell Us What You Think.
Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
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This also is a good time to sign up for our Monday-morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Email—it’s
free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
what we’re seeing on the horizon, plus it’s got a popular “holidays”
(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)