PR = Publicious Reading

A few books caught my attention enough to being ’em home from the ‘brary this week.

First up: PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences by Deirdre Breakenridge

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I am a little skeptical, since the Web moves so fast, and this book was published a long time ago—2008 for goodness’ sake! Put it this way, Twitter doesn’t show up till page 245, and there’s no index entry on hashtags. Actually, I fear that Twitter is already being diminished by marketing types, so maybe it’s a good thing. Anyway, I like the topic.

Random quote: “…we need data that shows how people are connected. Online social networks, blogs, mobile phone call records, e-mail servers, patent databases, and co-publishing databases are typical data sources that have information about how people are connected. We take this data and apply proprietary algorithms to create social network maps and indices.”

*WTH?  Is wiretapping now a marketing tool?

I probably won’t have time to do a proper review, but I’ll at least do the commuter’s skim and post my notes.

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TLF, my new BFF

Peoples, peoples, peoples, if you are the least bit interested seeing what will drive publishing workflows in the very near future, run, don’t walk your mouse over to the Adobe Labs and check out everything you can on Text Layout Framework. Such a dull-sounding name for such a mind-blowing technology. They should have called it the Textinator, or Fontapocalypse, or something. It’s going to be large. TLF (in beta) is a framework in Flash and Flex that will allow developers supreme control over typography in the browser. Any font, any layout, anywhere (OK, anywhere there’s Flash Player 10 installed, but that’s going to be everywhere).

That would be big enough news if it were just about a revolution in web design. But what I’m thinking about is the ways this technology could be used to make content, as well as deliver it. Because of what I do for a living, I’ve been babbling about the need to have content authoring in the browser. I’m sooo beyond sick of Word templates and web forms. I want an authoring tool with the feel of working in Adobe InCopy, with a rich layout and typography that matches what I get in InDesign, combined with the slickness of Buzzword, and capable of delivering some XML I can transform into some cool output.

Well, I think we just took a giant step in that direction with TLF. We’ll have websites and RIAs (Rich Internet Apps) that exploit TLF to deliver authoring anywhere. I promise you, in 5 years you won’t recognize the Creative Suite. This is the beginning of the end of the age desktop publishing applications, as we’ve known them for the last 20 years or so. They may be virtualized in the cloud, or mashed up and served as RIAs. They will morph and evolve like the liquid metal terminator in T2. But hopefully with less dying involved.

The Attack of Captain Buzzkill and the Pancake People

Sounds like the name of a cheesy ’50s horror flick. But actually, it’s my nickname for the book I just finished, The Big Switch by Nick Carr.

I first mentioned him and the book in a post a couple weekends ago. I like my crazy title because Carr documents some futuristic doomsday scenarios that that are actually coming true in the Age of Google.

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Adobe: Not Evil

Very nice to read over my morning coffee that Adobe has made good on their intentions to revise the Photoshop Express Terms of Service to make them a lot less evil. In my first look at Photoshop Express, I was pretty down on Adobe for writing themselves ownership of your content throught the Universe. I don’t really think they intended to be evil, but what’s written is what counts.

John Nack, the Senior Product Manager of Photoshop, explains the changes on his blog.

The main thing that I like about the changes is that when you terminate the service, all Adobe’s claims over your content are likewise terminated. We’ve moved from the pig to chicken in this bacon n’ eggs dish of committment. They do keep archived copies of your stuff, I would guess as protection against future claims of wrongdoing.

Adobe is also promising not to sell or license your content. Good good.

If you do sign up, be aware that you are granting the vast unknown Other Users a “license to view, download, print, distribute, publicly perform and publicly display Your Shared Content…” They, in turn, are supposed to give you credit, and they’re not supposed to make money off it or alter it. So I think what we have here is akin to the Flickr Creative Commons category of Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license. I think I can live with that, so I’ll set up a Px account and see how it goes.

Somewhere in his underground lair, Dr. Evil is very disappointed.

Now Serving number 8,911,336

Got my first hits from Technorati this weekend. Followed them back just to see what I look like from there. It is strange to see one’s words next to a flashing CapitalOne credit card ad, but such is life. Technorati also tells you where you rank in terms of popularity of the blogs it lists. Me? I have rocketed from nowhere to um, 8,911,336th place. Hey, everybody’s got to start somewhere. At least I cracked 9 million. I don’t think I could handle being over 9 millionth in line. I get antsy if there’s more than 2 people in front of me at Target.

Then I think, there’s somebody out there with the least popular blog in the world. What number is that? And what the hell are they writing about?

Anyway, I promise not to put (many) funny pictures of my cats “has cheezburger” to inflate my numbers.

And watch out Mr./Ms. 8,911,335, I’m gunning for you.

In terms of actual publishing stuff, I got an invitation today to an interesting conference that I probably won’t be able to attend, but I’ll read up on it anyway. It’s T.H.E. Journal’s Congress on the Future of Content. The goal is to “bring together leaders from all aspects of the educational publishing industry” and address 2 questions:

  1. What is your vision for content and how content should be delivered within the next five years?
  2. What are the barriers to implementing that vision?

Since educational publishing still pays my mortgage, and my kids are consumers of this stuff for 180 days a year (alongside vast amounts of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish), I will keep an eye on this one. I have my own answers to those two key questions, and I’d love to compare them to what the people at this conference are saying. Hopefully, they’ll post some public papers.

Apple is going to be there, but interestingly, no Adobe. C’mon people, there’s an opportunity here. Flash RIAs in the classroom, study hall, teachers’ lounge, on the bus (where my son does most of his homework)? Bring it on.

The High Cost of Purple Hamburgers

The plan for this evening was to get the kids to bed, pour myself a tasty beverage and check out Photoshop Express. I intended to sign up, upload some pics and report back what I found out.

I am a tad cyncial about some of the “free” stuff companies offer online. So far, I love WordPress, but it isn’t free to me. I paid to map my domain, and in the future, I’ll pay for more disk space, CSS, etc. I was an Economics major for about 15 minutes, and the only thing that I clearly remember was the prof writing “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” on the chalkboard the first day. I wrote that down in my notebook, and I think it applies here tonight.

I went to the Photoshop Express sign up page and poked around, feeling a bit out of place. The marketing is geared for Millennials and not my vintage GenX sensibilities. The people destined to become “Px Drivers” were born about the same time as my Mac 512k. Or later. It was like I wandered into the Hot Topic in the mall and asked if they had any Max Headroom posters.

Still, I’ve been using Photoshop for 1/3 of my life. I wouldn’t want to miss out on what’s next. So I went for a second opinion. Checked several reviews of the program, read my first freetard vs. paytard flamewar, basically came away feeling like my hesitation was warranted. Still, I went back and did the Test Drive. Here’s what I thought.

1. This isn’t really Photoshop. Or Photoshop Lite. It isn’t even iPhoto. There are 18 tools in all, and they’re made for play, not work.

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Drag slider, click thumbnail, and get on with your day. Fine, I get it, but please don’t call it Photoshop. Photoshop is a $650 badass program. Those two things go hand in hand. Maybe I’m weird, but I actually like having a program so deep and rich that I struggled to master it (and keep up with it). And deep down I know this is just my issue. Adobe’s smart use of their brand is about to result in an army of new people who call themselves Photoshop users.

Also, as an RIA, Px performs really well. It’s as slick and smooth as can be. Everything is intuitive and handy. And those kids at Hot Topic will probably love it.

2. The Terms of Service, which those same kids will never read. As of now, the way it’s written should give them pause. Particularly Section 8.

“Adobe does not claim ownership of Your Content. However, with respect to Your Content that you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Services, you grant Adobe a worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other Materials or works in any format or medium now known or later developed.”

Now I’m no lawyer, but that sure sounds like you just gave away your pics. For free. Forever. For what ever Adobe or anyone they sell your pics to feels like doing with them. They say they don’t own your pictures, but for all intents and purposes, they do. For giving you the ability to show your friends that purple hamburger. Free feels really expensive. I need to ask some of my friends who make a living with photo permissions what they think of this and report back here.

When I decided to start a blog, ownership of the content was one of the first things I wondered about and researched. It’s one of the reasons why I went with WordPress. I love the fact that I can easily get an XML dump of the entire blog. I bought a domain to keep the content at the same address should I ever decide to part ways with WP.

The WP Terms of Service offer quite a contrast to Photoshop Express. Hopefully I haven’t missed a Draconian clause buried somewhere that says they own my kids, my car, and the contents of my fridge.

I was glad to read that Adobe has responded to people’s concerns, and is re-writing the Terms of Service.