The Publishing [R]evolution

I’m posting the slides that Darin McBeath from Elsevier presented at the XML Holland conference a few months back. I’m sorry about the delay, but I wanted to be sure it was OK with Darin and the process got stuck on my back burner.

In addition to an all-around great speech, Darin introduced two concepts that I liked a lot.

  • Fewer moving parts
  • Find the ringtones

“Fewer moving parts” was Darin’s metaphor on simplicity in building pure XML-based systems (with XML content and XQuery as the query / programming language). It’s always hard to argue the business benefits of simplicity without doing detailed costing analysis. I thought it was creative of Darin to use this metaphor to drive the point home. We know jet engines are safer than piston engines because they are simpler and have fewer parts. The same could be said of Nokia vs. Motorola phones. Fewer parts works. When you build content applications on XML content with XQuery and an XML content server, you have fewer moving parts. No Java layer. No relational mappings. See this post, The Virtues of Top-to-Bottom XML, for more.

“Find the ringtones” was another cool Darin idea. As you probably know, ringtones are a multi-billion dollar business. The amazing thing about ringtones is that you can charge $3.00 for fifteen seconds of a song which in its three-minute entirety would sell for $0.99. Less really can be more. Darin’s challenge to publishers was to “find the ringtones” in their content. Where, in different sections of the publishing business, can you deliver higher value and increased revenue — by offering less? That’s a cool question. And in an increasingly information-overloaded world, a smart one.

In the better late than never department, here are Darin’s slides.

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