I’m chuffed (is that a peculiarly British expression?) to have been invited onboard Slaw as a contributor and will aim to provide a UK slant to some of the the core issues Slaw addresses surrounding legal information in the digital age.
I have been fortunate to have been involved at first hand in the entire modern publishing revolution. When I first started out in law publishing, authors produced copy on manual typewriters, editors used pens and literal cut and paste to hack it into shape, typesetters set the copy in movable lead type or “slugs” and made it up to page in print trays, and then the presses rolled. So there had not been much progress in 500 years!
Today I’m writing this in the cloud and when I hit “Publish” it will automatically be styled, made up to page and published instantly on the web to a global audience (blush!); it will be distributed automatically to subscribers via RSS and some of those subscribers will perhaps (automatically again) repurpose and republish it elsewhere. That’s incredible publishing efficiency: all I will do to achieve it is push a button!
Publishing is concerned with more than the production and distribution processes; it is about researching market needs, developing products and services to meet those needs and bringing those “to market”. But the web – Web 2.0 in particular – has rewritten all the rules. All aspects of the publishing process are now more accessible to more people and that has redefined markets and the relationships between publishers and users. With Web 2.0 we are all publishers now. That poses substantial challenges for the “traditional” publishers, who are no longer master of all they survey and must now to a large extent reinvent themselves to maintain their leading position, and it offers substantial opportunities to the rest of us who carry with us little baggage.
It’s been interesting and increasingly exciting to be on the ride for the last 30 years, but the fun is only just beginning.