Top Picks for Tools Of Change 2013

As conference season kicks off, I’m looking forward to seeing what lies in store at O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing 2013. It’ll be my first time attending TOC and from what I hear it’s going to be a solid few days of hearing from technologists who are innovating in the digital publishing space. Last year, discovery was a big focus at TOC and I’m happy to see that this year they’re moving to a deeper dialogue on content creation and curation. It’s not about how much but how good.

I’m particularly geeked to hear Evan Williams’ keynote. Williams started Blogger and co-founded Twitter. He recently launched Medium, a publishing platform that hinges on collaboration and feedback to create quality content. While Blogger broke the mould in giving people access to easily publish to their own, customizable webpage, Medium turns that isolation on its head by giving them easy access to publish to a combined stream, where value is designated by user feedback and categorization instead of page views. The audience outreach for a single author expands as more authors publish related quality content. The kicker is that content is organized according to value, not time. A win for curated longform in a world of insta-feeds? Perhaps – it’s certainly an inspired effort.

Interoperability and openness are key to much of this talk about structural innovation. Hugh McGuire’s Book as API session looks like a great way to start imagining a framework for what communication between our digital content and the web can look like. What kinds of services can be built on top of books? How can books be layered on other services? Brain-exploding stuff. Remember when everyone thought that the coolest thing about digital books was that you could make an “enhanced” ebook? That was funny.

Finally, another keynote I’m pleased to see on the bill is Maria Popova — founder and editor of Brain Pickings and the ultimate humanoid-powered discovery engine. Her curation skills are astounding and if you don’t read it already then do so immediately. Start in the books section.

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