Publishing in the new world

03 Sep

The world of publishing has gone thru considerable changes in the last couple of decades. Many publishers around the world are moving towards content generation by syndication rather than the age old “editorial reviews followed by queuing for publishing” approach. Let us see some examples:

  • Global media houses like CNN have content syndicated from individual authors, as opposed to the traditional practice of writers sending in content for editor’s review.
  • Technical publishing houses have embraced syndicated content to a large extent. One good example I can give is Alec Muffett (
  • Most corporates share their news (mostly technical, rarely financial) news thru non-moderated channels driven by individuals that are experts in specific areas.
  • Opensource software usually adopts the process of content generation (read manuals) thru content that is unmoderated to start with and finally ends up in semi-moderated user manuals.
  • Traditional book publishing is trying out the ebooks approach – ebooks delivered to the readers for a price, rather than traditional printing. This approach reduces costs – not just printing costs, but the costs associated with the thorough editorial reviews that are needed before the book gets out of the press.

I have seen a good number of students (especially in countries like India, where sharing content openly has a delayed start) start sharing their work on public sites, thanks to YouTube, blogger and many other tools. Facebook pages are doing quite well in the recent past in attracting focused and unmoderated technical writing by individuals.

In the midst of this change in the publishing methods, one area that is not moving fast enough in embracing unmoderated content is scientific publishing. This domain is still following the legacy “assess and publish” model rather than the “publish and assess” model that the rest of the world is drifting towards.

Michael Eisen has some interesting thoughts in this area. Worth reading.

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