Spend Valentine's Day with Nerds You Love

As my co-worker Neha Thanki pointed out in her earlier post for the BNC Blog, Top Picks for Tools Of Change 2013, TOC will be “a solid few days of hearing from technologists who are innovating in the digital publishing space.” I’m joining Neha next month at O’Reilly’s TOC Conference in New York from February 12th to 14th because there’s no better way to spend Valentine’s Day than with the fellow nerds you love.

I’m very excited to hear Joshua Gans’ presentation “Information Wants to be Shared”, title taken from his recent e-single of the same name. Currently teaching at the Rotman School for Management, Gans’ text reworks the (in)famous Stewart Brand quote that “information wants to be free”. (The rest of the quote for those looking for the complete perscpective: “Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive. …That tension will not go away.”) Gans suggests that the value of a piece/collection of information is enhanced when it is “shared” (rather than given in a one-sided transaction, one presumes?). Gans’ e-single promises to “change the way you think about your ideas and the media you use to consume and produce them” in 93 pages. While this may be a tricky task to accomplish in a 45-minute session, I’m looking forward to hear (at least) a fresh perspective in the ongoing battle between so-called free culture activists and traditional media business models. 

As a former bookseller, I’m always looking at the continued adaptation/evolution/thriving of bookstores—would it be great to see the focus shift from survival stories those of companies to those of thriving in the retail landscape, as we know it’s not all doomsday predictions, folks—and love to hear, first-hand, from booksellers and their ilk as they ride the digital wave. So my head will be cocked for Oren Teicher and the American Booksellers Association’s state of the nation-type address. The current session description is barebones, but you get the idea: “Everything about the book business is changing; and, to the surprise of some, bricks and mortar stores are creating new and innovative ways to reach their customers…both online and in their stores. To paraphrase Mark Twain…the reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”

One of my favourite sessions is the annual Startup Showcase on the Wednesday night of the conference. Why? Conference attendees and members of the TOC online commmunity vote on the top ten semi-finalists to present at the conference and promote their innovative, industry-shattering ideas and products to all conference attendees on the mainstage. Previous years have featured Bookigee, Booklamp and ONIXEDIT, to give an idea of the calibre of the semi-finalists. The live event is exhilerating and you can be a backseat driver now by voting. Voting ends Friday, January 11th: get on it!

Readers of the BookNet Canada blog save 15% on their TOC registration by using the code: BNC. Register today! 

For those of you unable to head to the US next month, don’t despair. We will be live-streaming the conference on our blog and we’ve got a conference of our own coming up shortly.