Textbook 2.0

I’ve written a few times about the future of publishing. Once to highlight concepts by Bonnier, another time to highlight a talk given by Steven Berlin-Johnson. I now work at a publisher, GigaOM produces reporting on the tech industry and GigaOM Pro produces long-form research reports. The long-form research reports are an interesting challenge. Because they are research, they do not lend themselves to all the digital portability that comes with a blog post coming out of a modern CMS. While it’s pretty easy to get a good discussion around a timely blog post, either on the site or across the social web, it’s harder to do so around a longer piece such as a research report.

Which is what makes the video below of a GigaOM reporter Colleen Taylor getting a demo of Inkling’s new 2.0 version of their digital textbook product.

Not only are the interactive features interesting, the social hooks are also impressive. This really is the book re-invented.

More info and links on Colleen’s post, Hands-on with Inkling 2.0, the iPad textbook.


Steve Jobs, Master of Delivery

Watching Steve Jobs introduce new technology is a wonder to behold. He doesn’t bash you over the head with hyperbole nor run circles around you with facts and figures. Instead he walks on stage in jeans and sneakers and pulls something out of his pocket like a wandering hiker might pull out a beautiful stone to share with friends around a campfire. He’s a seeker that’s come back from a journey with something wonderful to show us, he excites us to think of what’s possible and how we might join him on his journey of discovery.

Look at how he introduces the first iPod. We may laugh when we see the goofy fonts and hear about the 5 GB capacity but to hear how he casts his spell over the crowd gathered in what looks like a local high school auditorium is no different to how Steve has always delivered his latest innovation.

Flash forward to 2005 and we see him introduce the iPod Nano with what has to be my favorite Steve Jobs unveil, “Ever wonder what this pocket is for?”

Steve Jobs had a style that was all his own and I’ll miss him. The internet is awash with a collective group hug at the news of his resignation as we all reflect on the departure of a man who helped define why we enjoy tech. Here’s a sample of some of the best recollections (and one future prediction) I’ve had the chance to read:

And then there are Steve and Apple: a leader and a company not afraid to take the long view, patiently building the way to the future envisioned for the company. Not afraid to invent the future and to be wrong. And almost always willing to do one small thing — cannibalize itself. Under Steve, Apple was happy to see the iPhone kill the iPod and iPad kill the MacBook. He understands that you don’t walk into the future by looking back. – Om Malik, Steve Jobs and the sound of silence

The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?” Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself. – John Gruber, Resigned

So, who is this man? He’s the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock. He’s a non-Christian, arugula-eating, drug-using follower of unabashedly old-fashioned liberal teachings from the hippies and folk music stars of the 60s. And he believes in science, in things that science can demonstrate like climate change and Pi having a value more specific than “3”, and in extending responsible benefits to his employees while encouraging his company to lead by being environmentally responsible. – Anil Dash, What they’re “protecting” us from

It was at the iMac launch where he was showing off the modern line that is on my desk today “look at the metal on the back, isn’t it beautiful?” he told me. It was. But all the other CEOs didn’t care about the back of their products. They cared, instead, about shaving cost from them instead. – Robert Scoble, A front row seat to Steve Jobs’ carreer

We know there is such a plan — there has to be, Apple’s moves have been too deliberate, if inscrutable, to be some executive random walk.  But nobody near the top has ever tried to explain where the company is going, preferring to be mysterious instead.  Bill Gates had Nathan Myhrvold write his book for him, but Steve is classier than Bill. I believe Walter Isaacson’s book will also function as Steve’s technology manifesto, part of his legacy. Once we have the grand plan, then it may make more sense just who should lead that plan’s execution during what will clearly be Apple’s best quarter in its 34 year history.  Steve Jobs is setting-up this (and us) for another grand reveal… just one more thing. – Bob Cringely, Cupertino Two-Step


I had to include this photo I took at the iPhone launch event. Note the look of wonder and open-mouthed awe.


New Job, Two Weeks In

A friend from Finland asked how things were going at the new job which nudged me to put some thoughts down. Here are some highlights from the past two weeks,

  • was introduced to everyone via a broadcast message to everyone in the office as, “the guy who helped get the MSFT/Nokia deal done.”
  • made my first edit on, albeit an FAQ page.
  • manned the live, on site chat for a few hours where I was promptly asked “how can I build a life-sized Optimus Prime out of Lego?” I suspect one of my new colleagues.
  • met Om Malik who approved of my sense of humor.
  • was met with stunned silence when I asked if someone could, “provision” my new work laptop – everyone sharpens their own knives here.
  • after reading snarky comment about a low-res version photo of contributor, contacted them in New Zealand on Skype, was given a new image, cropped and uploaded the same and fixed the issue, all in less than 5 minutes.
  • drove to Napa to attend VIP party for WordPress customers. Met Matt Mullenweg and his fine crew to enjoy wine, sunset, and the future of publishing.

If you’re wondering where I work, here’s a short video describing the service. I work with the dev team pulling levers and twirling knobs to keep things running smoothly.