free html hit counter Toward a New Understanding of Publishing (Part 1) | John Battelle's Search Blog

Toward a New Understanding of Publishing (Part 1)

By - March 28, 2010

This weekend I finished a the first draft of a new series on publishing, not unlike the three part series I wrote more than three years ago on conversational media. I’ve posted the draft over on the FM blog, as it’s been FM that has inspired my thinking on these topics. From the post:

Ask most media professionals to define “publishing” and they’ll most likely resort to something akin to the standard dictionary entry: “The business of issuing printed matter.”

By that definition, publishing ain’t much of a growth business.

But here at FM, we’d like to recapture what we believe is the essence of the term. To us, publishing means something far more than putting words and images to paper. Back when paper and printing presses revolutionized how humans communicated, we ended up conflating two very important concepts. One was the message – what was being said, and in what context. The second was the medium – the transport for that message. The two became seen as the same thing in printed matter, and the traditional definition of publishing was born.

It’s not an accident that we identified the message (what is being said) with the medium (how that message gets into our minds). After all, before print, all we poor humans had as a medium was our voices. Back then, with apologies to McLuhan, the medium truly was the message.

Think of publishing as speaking – a conversation – it’s clear that publishing means far more than printing. Publishing means connecting a community through the art and science of communication. And nowhere is publishing more vibrant – and conversational – than through the medium we’ve come to call the Internet….

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  • Paul

    I was glad to see your comments about the Evening News, which I find loathesome for the same reasons you do. But like your wife, I’ve become habituated to the slot, partly because I associate it with dinner. So I end up enjoying the news as a way of exercising my critical faculties (read hatred of journalism). Diane Sawyer, with her sugary faux apologetics especially feeds my contempt, though I didn’t mind her as a morning shill. And have you noticed, CNN has lowered itself considerably also, in the past year, thanks in part to that insufferable, unshut-upable toadie, Wolf Blitzer. The sad fact is that, even though I read many reputable, in-depth news sources, I still hope for a satisfying reality-based TV news experience – sort of like the BBC – as if it were something I deserved, perhaps because I grew up when mentioning tampons and erectile dysfunction on television would have precipitated a riot. Or was news always an advertising gimmick? The web of course makes it easy to ignore the infinitely distracting stupidities of network news. Maybe I’ll stick to my philosophy: if it can be said in fewer than 1000 words, it’s not news.