Fifteen years ago would anyone have imagined that Apple, a dying computer company, would come back to life by gaining control of the music business?
Why did that happen? They focused on the customer.
John Wilbanks, VP at Creative Commons, and leader of their Science Project, was the morning keynote at SSP IN. His point with the Apple example? Traditionally, publishing has focused on the container not the customer: the article, the book, the journal. It’s time to shift the focus to the consumer.
Unfortunately, many in scholarly publishing, and publishing overall, are incrementally innovating around the container. While commending Elsevier for their R & D efforts, Wilbanks observed that even the Article of the Future looks a lot like the container of the past.
The problem with focusing on the container is that the network is commoditizing the container, which will be digitized and copied. In fact, digital technologies are constructed for distribution and copying. Concentrating on the container puts publishers in the business of spending time and money attempting to prevent copying. Ironically, in a network economy, it’s the proliferation of copies that makes content more valuable. But this shifts the value from the content layer to surrounding layers:
When a layer gets commoditized, value is created through proprietary services in adjacent layers. Clay Christensen
Focusing on the article misses the shift away from the article. It’s coming, Wilbanks believes. The article is a representation of the scientific process from which it resulted. All of the content around that process, the data on which the process relied, and the interactions of those involved represent the true value. In fact, the publisher that enables the integration, annotation, and federation of those sources may find themselves creating the most value and the most success.
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- Elsevier and Its Article of the Future (arnoldit.com)