Tools of Change 2011: Overall Thoughts, Exciting New Projects, and Quotable Quotations

Last week I attended the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing 2011 conference .

This was my first year attending TOC and I loved it. If you’ve never been to TOC, it’s a whirlwind of a conference: workshops, keynotes, sessions, exhibitors, roundtable sessions, a startup showcase, and social events. I don’t think I blinked for three days, but it was a fantastic experience and I recommend it to any of you who can make it in future years.

Overall I was really happy to see the general focus on accessibility and standards, two areas of publishing that I think the industry needs to pay more attention to. There were also two projects that stood out for me. I’ll blog about both of these projects very, very soon, but here are the basics in their own words:


Fluidinfo is an online information storage and search platform. Its design supports shared openly writable metadata of any type and about anything, provides modern writable APIs, and allows data to be branded with domain names.

Fluidinfo is the one project that had me staying after the session and making plans to meet up with presenter and CEO Terry Jones the next day to get more details. It has the potential to make it easier for us humans to work with and create information, and I’m really excited to see where this project goes and how I can take part.


PressBooks is an open-source book publishing platform, that makes it easy for you and your team to author books, and to generate clean, well-formatted books in multiple outputs: EPUB, print-ready PDF, InDesign-ready XML, and of course HTML.

Open, Webby Book Publishing


Presentation by Hugh McGuire, John Maxwell, and Kirk Biglione

Hugh McGuire and the team at PressBooks have taken the web-first XML workflow via WordPress ideas that John Maxwell and the Simon Fraser University Master of Publishing teams have been working on for the past few years (with my personal contribution happening in 2009) and wrapped it up in a nice little package that let’s you create books. The project is in the early stages, but I’m testing it right now and will blog about it in more detail in the next week or so.

Quotable Quotes

Here’s a list of some of my favourite quotes from the conference:

“Without the cement to hold everything together, we’re not going to get very far.”—Mark Bide on standards

“Don’t let your company’s past get in the way of your company’s future”—David Prichard on moving forward

“You need the people who turn the hardware into magic”—Theo Gray on hiring experts

“Every tool has three sides: the upside, the downside, and the stupid side”—Margaret Atwood on new tools and unforseen results of those new tools

“We don’t call Google Maps an enhanced atlas”—Publisher CTO Panel (I don’t remember exactly who) Andrew Savikas on “enhanced ebooks” (hat tip to Keith Fahlgren for remembering it was Savikas)

“Never build anything until you’ve shown it to customers first”—Emily Sawtell on developing new products

“Build marketing campaigns based on data, and build them to gather data”—Brett Sandusky on data-driven marketing campaigns

“Don’t try to anticipate what people are going to do with information”—Terry Jones on flexible data (and really just good general advice)

“The largest platform in the world is the mobile handset…publishers have not yet engaged with this properly”—Cheryl Goodman on missed opportunities

“There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit on the web, a lot of Sunday afternoon projects”—John Maxwell on creating new things quickly that still have huge impact


Speaker Slides and Video


Twitter Stream (#toccon)

Up Next

Don’t forget: BNC Technology Forum 2011 is coming up on March 24th!

We’re over 80% sold out so register now to secure your spot.