Monday, October 20, 2008

Do You Know What Chunking Means???

I’m back--rested and glad to be blogging again.

Regular readers of this blog know that one of my heroes is Mike Shatzkin, founder of the company Idea Logical. My last post about Mike was five months ago here when he spoke at the London Book Fair. His speech then is well worth reading (or re-reading).

On October 17, Mike spoke at the Frankfurt Book Fair at a session titled Start With XML.

As an introduction, I’m going to post a comment Mike recently made on the StartWithXML website here--
Until very recently, we lived in a world where the book was the sun and everything else orbited around it. Now the CONTENT, the IP, is the sun, and the book is relegated to one of the satellite bodies (still often the biggest, but it is a lot different to be Jupiter than it is to be the sun!) When what is at the "core" is different, the processes to create it have to change.
According to Publishers Weekly (PW), Mike said something very similar during his Frankfurt talk. PW said--
For those who don't know, XML - standing for Extensible Markup Language - allows users to determine their own markup elements, its prime purpose being to allow systems to share structured data via the Internet . . .

Essentially, it means that publishers working in XML . . . can repurpose it for downloads to e-readers, mobile phones and devices as yet unknown to us. "Chunking" and "transforming" were words that Shatzkin used repeatedly, meaning that content - what publishers currently like to think of as a book - can be customized to suit buyers' individual needs and delivered in a variety of ways . . .

Back on the StartWithXML website here last Thursday, Laura Dawson said this--
Chunking, at least as we're talking about it, means carving up your content into chunks and distributing those discrete pieces of it. Travel content (distributed over GPS, the web, and in book form) and recipes (distributed via Epicurious and AllRecipes.com as well as in book form) are the most obvious examples of this. Textbook publishing does this as well - certain assets can be used in the main text, in supplementary workbooks and lab manuals, as individual activities to be downloaded to an iPod, or embedded in e-books.
The reason I mentioned Mike's speech from May is because, in that talk, he discussed vertical integration. Chunking lends itself beautifully to a vertical model. Laura gave this example here on September 17--
I think about one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer. He writes his books. From those books are generated calendars, one-a-day cards, daily journals, audiobooks, supplementary materials (such as meditations). If Hay House felt like it, they could send an email containing an inspirational quote to my inbox every morning. Dyer writes once. But Hay House [his publisher] publishes his stuff many times over, in many different formats.
We'll talk more about this tomorrow.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

I'm a software developer by day, romance writer by night. It is my (day) job to help people do their job more efficiently, and to spend more time on the skills and tasks that they are best suited for. Let the computer do the busy work.

And, after entering my first round of writing contests recently, I've already begun wondering why the format of a manuscript is so darned important to everyone. We're writers, not typesetters. Font, line spacing, margins, aren't even icing on the cake--they're the bakery box that the cake came in.

I have wondered several times whether I'd be better off writing my manuscripts in XML, and then creating a stylesheet or transform that will just format it for me when I need to submit it to someone else. Then I don't have to spend 3 hours making sure my double-spacing didn't add too many spaces between paragraphs, or fixing the header and footer to be just so for an agent. It might go faster. And be a lot less annoying.

And when it comes time to send a manuscript to a publisher, if they wanted just the content of a manuscript, then their computers could automatically apply their own choice of formatting. It could save everyone time and tedious effort.