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Let’s Go, Let’s Improvise!: Berlin Publishers Forum Preview

By Helmut von Berg, Klopotek

The crucial questions surrounding the current developments in publishing are going to be examined by approximately 300 participants and decision‐makers at the 9th Publishers’ Forum in Berlin in a magnificent setting from 23‐24 April. The axica, an internationally renowned conference venue near the Brandenburg Gate was conceived by Frank O. Gehry and is so magnetic that tourists are constantly drawn into the atrium to catch a glimpse of this universe and its special atmosphere.

The Forum is known for focussing its program on key international developments and for examining the situation in Europe and Germany against this background. Plus there are the fresh “new ideas,” often presented by young people from start‐ups, by university representatives and pioneers in publishing and other industries.

So, what are this year’s important questions?

Brian O’Leary will ensure that all eyes are on the “usage context” of digital content – not only when distributing it but as early as during its preparation and provision. He argues that “context first” is a benchmark for the satisfying use of digital content – after successfully identifying and facilitating access to it. What is only briefly summarized here in my own words is, as he will explain, a complex task, which must be approached with a strategic vision incorporating both your own business model and appropriate positioning in the right market segment. This often means rethinking your initial position and, if necessary, modifying it to suit the realities of the evolving market.

In this greater context, the Forum turns its attention to important topics such as semantics and content‐related metadata.

The conference examines in detail the collaboration on the solution of various complex tasks during the Jurion project at Wolters Kluwer. This project is explained and discussed in the context of Linked Open Data – beginning with a general introduction (Dr. Sören Auer, Leipzig University, LOD Presentation 1), followed by an analysis of the risks, but also the opportunities intrinsic to potential, future application scenarios (Bastiaan Deblieck, TenForce, LOD Presentation 2), and concluding with an examination of Jurion as a concept, its objectives, and strategic organization on the basis of Linked Open data and a greatly expanded business model (Christian Dirschl, Wolters Kluwer Content Architect, LOD Presentation 3). The contributions are scheduled so that those who are interested can listen to all three presentations and thus engage with the subject from all three angles – good levels of skills in German are required for Presentations 1 and 3 – and then participate in a workshop which will answer any important questions.

When we go beyond ideas like ONIX in our attempts to capture the semantic structure of content – not only to make it easier and faster to find, but also to support and simplify access – we recognize that we are still, in Germany as well as on an international level, in the initial stages of indexing and digitizing content, particularly with respect to trade publishing.

The Publishers’ Forum is among the first high‐profile conference to be able to offer (a) the results of an experiment for which a well‐known German publisher provided approximately 1,000 data records from their trade publishing portfolio and (b) to present a first attempt of a company providing services mainly to news agencies to make feelings, hopes, suspense, story arcs or simply “the unspoken” tangible and searchable; this attempt is topical and crucial for the publishing industry because the relevant content‐related taxonomies do not exist but might (and should) result of their efforts. We can all be very excited about these first results and pioneering efforts – especially taking into account that nobody has previously investigated how “trade publishing / fiction searches” function, which concepts can really be used and what kind of support can be provided for this type of search.

I cannot conclude this brief outline without mentioning “A Content Strategy for Publishing” – a topic which has never been formulated, presented and discussed so clearly and straight to the point (Ingrid Goldstein, OUP, UK and Anna von Veh, SayBooks, NZL). Anna’s “agile workflows” approach – presented with Brian O’Leary in a different presentation – examines the basic principles of improvisation in publishing through the lens of jazz and is another impressive example of the need for creativity when facing the current digital challenges.

On that note: “Let’s improvise!” – And please check out www.publishers‐forum.com if you’d like to know more. Joining us is easy; just fill out the form and fax it back to us.

DISCUSS: What Statistical Publishing Research Do You Need Most?

WATCH: Publishing Perspectives’ Video Interview with Ulrich Klopotek

READ: Our coverage from the 2011 Berlin Publishers Forum

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