Thinking About the Future of Publishing

Anil Dash argues that publishers should stop worrying about publishing pages and start publishing streams.

Start moving your content management system towards a future where it outputs content to simple APIs, which are consumed by stream-based apps that are either HTML5 in the browser and/or native clients on mobile devices. Insert your advertising into those streams using the same formats and considerations that you use for your own content. Trust your readers to know how to scroll down and skim across a simple stream, since that’s what they’re already doing all day on the web. Give them the chance to customize those streams to include (or exclude!) just the content they want.

Pay attention to the fact that all the links you click on Twitter, on Facebook, on Pinterest, all take you to out of the simple flow of those apps and into a jarring, cluttered experience where the most appealing option is the back button. Stop being one of those dead-end experiences and start being more like what users have repeatedly demonstrated they prefer.

The larger point Dash is trying to make is his call to arms isn’t about how content looks, it’s about how content works. A subtle distinction, but an important one as content traverses different publishing mediums, whether it’s a blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

At the same time, Matt Thompson argues that modern content is all about the update. Content is alive. Changing, bending, being amended over weeks and months. Starting a thread and not following it over time, regardless of where it goes, does a disservice to readers. It’s about building a larger picture from small puzzle pieces.

I’m not entirely sure if these articles have anything to do with one another — I think they do. No, I know they do, but how they relate is fuzzy to me at the moment. However, they each stirred the beginning tingles of massive thoughts in my head about publishing online content.

The stream is the update. Or, vice versa.

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