Dyslexics thriving in the workplace

Reading the Dyslexic Advantage
Quite a few people have said good things to me since I posted about reading the dyslexic advantage. On Saturday I finished the whole book and although there are so many great sections the last one had so much to talk/blog about

The last section which is all about work, and so very fitting…

For individuals with dyslexia, good-fitting jobs have several common features. First, they engage strengths and avoid weaknesses. As we’ve discussed, many individuals with dyslexia excel in big-picture reasoning, or the ability to see the overall features, “contours,” or implications of objects or ideas. The occupation or position in which they best display this ability depends upon which MIND strengths they possess, but as a general rule, jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well stress problem solving, troubleshooting, fixing things, coming up with new ideas, thinking about what’s missing or not being addressed, or telling stories (e.g., sales, counseling, coaching, advertising, entrepreneurship).
[…]
In contrast, individuals with dyslexia often struggle with fine-detail processing, mastering routine procedures to the point of automaticity, or rote memory. As a result, they often find that jobs that stress repetition, efficiency, consistency, attention to details, use of procedures, application of fixed rules, or routine processing tasks (especially clerical tasks that involve the manipulation and use of written symbols) are a poor fit.

I can’t tell you the cognitive pain of repetition, I find it super uncomfortable and far prefer the new and unknown. My mind wonders and before long I’m innovating my way out of doing the task as is. Better way to spend my cognitive surplus?

After choosing a job that seems to be a good fit, individuals with dyslexia should work hard to optimize that job environment by being proactive in pursuing opportunities, self-advocating with supervisors and co-workers, building partnerships, pursuing leadership opportunities, and using technologies to maximize their productivity.
Many individuals with dyslexia are especially good at spotting opportunities that others have missed and then aggressively and proactively taking advantage of those opportunities. Professor Julie Logan cited this ability as one of the most common characteristics she’s observed in the dyslexic entrepreneurs she’s studied.
We’ve also observed this ability in many of the individuals with dyslexia we’ve interviewed—and not just in business. Astrophysicist Matt Schneps told us, “One thing I’m very proud of is that I’m very good at taking advantage of opportunities. If I see something I think is useful for me, I think about how I can make the most of it and take advantage of that.” Because of this ability (and strong self-advocacy skills like those we’ll discuss later), Matt has been able to enjoy four entirely different careers over the past thirty years, all with the same employer.

Making and taking those opportunities is a big thing, which I’m certainly hard-wired for. Most people take and give out business cards as a brush off but I take them seriously. I do like to meet or follow up, see if theres a chance for collaboration. I’m also generally interested in the person and if I can connect them with someone else I might know.

A second key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they engage interests. While everyone works better on tasks they find interesting and enjoyable, individuals with dyslexia are often especially dependent upon interest to produce their best efforts. In contrast, when tasks fail to engage their interest, they often struggle to perform well and remain focused. This is largely because many of the rote or automatic skills needed to perform routine tasks require more focused attention for individuals with dyslexia. This need for heightened attention can be difficult to sustain unless there are things about the job that are especially interesting. When work heightens interest and mood, dyslexics typically respond with greater creativity and performance.

Absolutely, like most people I assume but I guess I actively find my mind drifting away to more interesting things. Focus is difficult when not in my wider area of interest. I mean I’m curious about lots of things, so its really got to be something poor/bad for me.

A third key feature of jobs that fit individuals with dyslexia well is that they focus on results rather than on methods. Many of our interviewees mentioned that they often perform tasks in unconventional ways—frequently of their own devising. For example, more than half told us that they solved math problems differently from how they were taught by using unconventional methods that made more sense to them.

This is something I’ve known for a long while, I can’t help but find alternative ways to do things. This is why if you tell me a task without the bigger context/picture I find it frustrating as hell. I’m always thinking about the final impact not the individual steps to get there. Those are just details to me. Reminds me of Do you have humility, a sense of craft and can you hustle?

Jobs that allow flexibility can open the door to success for dyslexics. It’s often while devising new methods for routine tasks that dyslexics come up with innovative approaches that save time, effort, and expense and improve outcomes for everyone.
[…]
There is evidence that this kind of flexibility is often more easily found in positions very near the top or the bottom of the structures of large organizations but in shorter supply in the middle. Professor Julie Logan has found that although many large corporations have CEOs with dyslexia, fewer than 1 percent of middle managers in such firms are dyslexic.

Now this is very interesting detail… Be interesting to look into the stats for the BBC via the BBC’s Neurodiversity project.

Some large companies, like his former employer Intel, manage to maintain their flexible attitudes despite their size. Douglas Merrill also told us that supporting this diversity in thinking styles was one of his primary goals as chief information officer at Google. Douglas worked hard to give employees the greatest possible flexibility in choosing the work habits and technologies that allowed them to be their most productive. When a company shows this kind of flexibility, it’s likely to be a good fit for individuals with dyslexia. Of course, there’s no employer that can provide more flexibility than oneself, which is one reason why so many dyslexics start their own businesses.

And theres a long long list of successful dyslexic entrepreneurs. Interestingly the guardian piece pretty much says the same thing as I read in the dyslexic advantage.

Its a great book, I do wish it was more dyslexic friendly to read but the content is certainly incredible.

Reading the dyslexic advantage at last

The Dyslexic Advantage
At long last I started reading or rather listening to The dyslexic advantage. I’m totally blown away by what I’ve been reading. I mean I knew most of this but the science behind it and how it can be a super power; has literally shocked and moved me. I have written about my own dyslexic a few times including in everyday life, in the media and my thoughts about how it may affects relationships.

From the very start the book sets its agenda, to look at dyslexia strengths and less about its weaknesses…

Most books on dyslexia focus on problems with reading and spelling. While these problems are extremely important, they’re not the only—or even the most important—things that individuals with dyslexia find critical for their growth, learning, and success.
As experts in neuroscience and learning disabilities, we’ve worked with hundreds of individuals with dyslexia and their families. In the process we’ve found that individuals with dyslexia often share a broad range of important cognitive features. Some of these features are learning or processing challenges—like difficulties with reading and spelling, rote math, working memory, or visual and auditory function. But others are important strengths, abilities, and talents; gifts we call the dyslexic advantage. While these features differ somewhat from person to person, they also form recognizable patterns—just as the different musical works of Mozart are distinguishable yet recognizably the work of the same composer.

Theres many paragraphs but I wanted to share some of the key ones I’ve read so far. The whole book focuses on M.I.N.D strengths, which are the 4 key strengths dyslexics share or in parts.

I personally have a strong amount of all 4. They are not saying its only dyslexics which have them but much more likely and much more strongly. Think of them like the Big 5 personality traits rather than Myers-Briggs types.

  • M-Strength for Material Reasoning, which is primarily reasoning about the position, form, and movement of objects 3D space
  • I-Strengths for Interconnected Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to spot, understand, and reason about connections and relationships (e.g., analogies, metaphors, systems, patterns)
  • N-Strengths for Narrative Reasoning, which is primarily the ability to reason using fragments of memory formed from past personal experience (i.e., using cases, examples, and simulations rather than abstract reasoning from principles)
  • D-Strengths for Dynamic Reasoning, which is the ability to accurately predict using patterns derived through experience the future or the unwitnessed past

The I, N & D Strengths are very much a key part of me (M too, but maybe a little less so). I always seen the world in one massively connected ecosystem. Everything is connected and its hard trying to explain to others how it all meshes together.

Patterns are observed and seem to stick in my mind. They seem to exist as a narrative or at least are stronger as narrative. This is extremely useful when finding my way places again unfolds as a narrative rather than a map or directions.

For dyslexic brains, excellent function typically means traits like the ability to see the gist or essence of things or to spot the larger context behind a given situation or idea; multidimensionality of perspective; the ability to see new, unusual, or distant connections; inferential reasoning and ambiguity detection; the ability to recombine things in novel ways and a general inventiveness; and greater mindfulness and intentionality during tasks that others take for granted.
Nondyslexic brains often excel at applying rules and procedures in an expert and efficient manner. Dyslexic brains often excel at finding “best fits” or at ad hoc problem solving.

I hadn’t really thought about it this way but makes so much sense. Maybe this is why Art just makes sense for me. Its also clear a gist, conversation, sentence or just a word can spring tons of connected thoughts. For example the idea of “local evil” which was a title for a event had my mind cycling for weeks.

The cluetrain manifesto is another example, from the 95 rules I could almost tell the thesis as a complete narrative without reading any of them. My favourite being #7 Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

The power of Interconnected reasoning lies in its ability to link all of an individual’s knowledge, ideas, and mental approaches into an integrated conceptual matrix. This integrated matrix is incredibly powerful because it allows objects of thought to be approached from many different angles, levels, and perspectives, so they can be seen in new ways, related to other phenomena, and understood in a larger context. The three core skills, or I-strengths, that help form this conceptual matrix are the abilities to detect relationships between different objects of thought, the ability to shift perspectives or approaches, and the ability to reason using a global or top-down perspective.

Can’t tell you how useful this is, its sometimes hard when explaining to others different angles or the bigger picture. Maybe this is why the end of interstellar just made such sense and I actually use it in a few presentations.

Variations not versions
While talking about D-strengths and the incredible power of insight, this point was made.

“Given a problem and an hour to solve it, we typically spend the first three minutes intuiting the answer, then spend the other fifty-seven backtracking . . . to check our results through data collection and deductive logic.” According to Sarah, this intuitive approach “functions in leaps rather than by neatly ratcheting intervals” and is “less lineal than iterative or circular.”
This intuitive approach—used very heavily by individuals with dyslexia who excel in Dynamic and Narrative reasoning—can be very powerful, but it does present a problem: when viewed from the outside it can look an awful lot like goofing off.

Absolutely… Its always painful to backtrack and explain the leaps in thinking. I know its a important part of the scientific process but it doesn’t stop it being not the way our minds are wired.

To be honest, I felt like its not just the education system which is trying to kick this out of us but also society. Partly if you look at the systems which surround us and who is writing them.

One day at work she was standing by her office window staring serenely out at the mountains while trying to let her mind “ease itself around a problem.” Her CFO walked by her door, looked in, and saw one of “his people” staring out the window, so he snapped at her to get back to work. Sarah calmly replied, “You work in your way, I’ll work in mine. Now stop interrupting me.” Sarah later wrote of this episode, “What this CFO didn’t know was that staring into space is precisely how we work. It is our capacity to throw our brains into neutral and let connections assemble . . . that makes it possible for us to see connections that others can’t. We relax into the work.”

I can’t tell you the disbelieve some people have around me working in the northern quarter. The different buzzy environment completely changes the way I think, like staring out the window or being less focused.

This need for patient reflection can also create enormous problems at school, where time for reflection is in critically short supply. Try convincing a teacher that staring out the window is how you work best or that “getting busy” means you’ll get less done. Yet this passive and reflective approach really is a valid problem-solving method, and there’s plenty of scientific evidence to support its validity and effectiveness. In the research literature, this method of problem solving is referred to as insight.

Absolutely… Says it all! Always said hours does not equal effort. I’m personally more effective late at night, when I’m in a more relaxed state and have room/space to think wider and larger. There was a period when I found it hard to sleep because my mind just buzzed away.

Although insight-based problem solving is very powerful, because much of its connection-making process takes place outside the person’s conscious awareness, it can often seem second-rate, mystical, shoddy, or even slightly disreputable. But there’s an observable neurological mechanism underlying insight that’s been well worked out over the last decade by researchers.

Yes insight is always seen as hooky, non-scientific or a joke. There is a large section debunking insight as this but its well worth a blog post on its own. But I think this is a fitting end to insight discussion.

…As teachers, parents, co-workers, and bosses, we need to be watchful for individuals who frequently reach the right results through insight, and when we find them we need to treat their different reasoning style with the seriousness it deserves. Not all staring out the window is productive reasoning, but quite a lot is; and it’s important to understand that some people—including many of the most creative—really do need to “relax into their work.”

I haven’t even finished the Dyslexic advantage but I’m already raving about the book. Its clarified many things and given much more fuel for the things I kind of knew was true but found hard to explain. Gaining deductive logic or insight about my insight (ha!)

This is the kind of book with some tweaking could be a very powerful book for young dyslexic children growing up. Its a little inaccessible but the audio book is great and having both really works.

The sick and twisted people looking for a date, avoid & report them!

This is the kind of person people imagine talking to when first joining a online dating site.

I’m generally not shocked at the kind of things men (generally its men but I have been on the receiving side from some crazy women) say to the women to get a date or more. However I’ve never ever seen anything so graphic and aggressively racist as this before.

Massive warning if you are easily offended don’t look, as it will wind you up no end. The language and subject matter is combined is so wrong on quite a few levels…! Its sick, twisted and this guy is trying to convince this women to consider him (ffs!)

Thanks to Tom for highlighting the reddit thread, which is full of crazy private dating conversations. I really hope the women in question reported the man in question, although most people don’t!

I have some conversations saved from the past with some insane women I have spoken to on instant messenger but I have saved them for my ebook. But to give you a taster of whats to come…

Her: I12 lic yr ear :-)
Me: Oh hello?
Me: My ear?
Her: I12 lic u
Her: I wanna lic yr ear
Me: Thats pretty forward
Her: &?

And thats only the very start of a weird instant messaging conversation…

Perceptive publishing?

The reader

There was a reason why I decided to use Media oppose to TV or Radio.

The core concept of Perceptive Media can be applied at many different levels and different outputs.

How would Perceptive publishing work? Well if you imagine you have a ebook which can be read on a system which is also connected to the web and/or has sensors of its own. Imagine if that ebook reader has API’s which can exposes certain data to the ebook its self.

The way you hold the ereader, landscape, portrait, ambient temperature, time, geolocation, ambient noise, etc, etc. I have a feeling Perceptive Publishing may actually be a lot easier than Perceptive Broadcast…

You get the picture… and so do Oreilly who have put Perceptive Media into their Tools of Change conference in October.

I was interviewed about Perceptive Media and how it could work in publishing…

In the early days, Perceptive Media is being applied to broadcast technology. What potential applications for Perceptive Media do you envision in the publishing industry?

Ian Forrester: We have only scratched the surface and do not know what else it can be adapted toward. In BBC R&D, we watch trends by looking at early innovators. It’s clear as day that ebook reading is taking off finally, and as it moves into the digital domain, why does the concept of a book have to be static? Skeuomorphism is tragic and feels like a massive step back. But Perceptive Media is undoing the limitations of broadcast. It certainly feels like we can overcome the limitations of publishing, too.
Tools of Change for Publishing (http://s.tt/1nB8P)

Feed your Kindle for free

Morning!

Still loving my Kindle specially now I can use my phone as a Wifi hotspot/Mifi. I’m usually tweeting something I’ve read on the way to work. I’ve described my kindle ecosystem but recently I’m starting to notice more services supporting the Kindle, here’s the better one…

Cold Climate tweeted me this… Kindle It lets you send articles you find on the web to your Kindle or other e-reader for easy reading. It is being developed as part of the Five Filters project to promote independent, non-corporate media.

Its pretty nice, specially the Android App which is handy for on the go sending. I’ve used send to Kindle in the past but to be honest I hardly need to send from my HTC Desire to the Kindle. Maybe when I get a Tablet, it might be different.

But I’ve started using NewstoEbook which is great perfect for myself because I use Google Reader for quite a bit of my news. The problem I had was that the subscriptions were quite large and calibre would do its thing and collect them all up to a certain point and then time out. Meaning I would only get the first lot of subscriptions. Even if it did, the file size of the final ebook would be too big to send via email to the Kindle.

News to Ebook is great but I’m trying to find a way to automate the whole process… It seems tricky because of the need to automate the Oauth part and select the subscription to make the ebook from.

My only negative comment is when it creates the ebooks, it doesn’t generate index correctly, so you can’t browse the ebook like most other ebooks. Hopefully the author can solve this problem by updating the script, engine, etc which generates the ebooks.

JK Rowling jumps head first into self publishing

Harry Potter

I posted this from my kindle on twitter… Its awkward because it doesn’t post the source but its actually from Ars technica.

By publishing on her own website, Rowling adds: “We can guarantee that people everywhere are getting the same experience at the same time. That was extremely appealing to me. I am lucky to have the resources to do it myself and I think this is a fantastic and unique experience that I could afford to take my time over to make this come alive. There was really no way to do it for the fans or me than just do it myself. Not every author could do this, but it’s right for Harry Potter. It is so much fun to have direct content with my fans. It was an extension of the existing jkrowling.com.”

JK Rowling is sure to make a mint and even more from self publishing… Further more I was intrigued to hear Rowling is green lighting a non DRM format for publishing.

Rowling has opted to keep the e-books DRM-free, meaning that they are not locked into one device or platform. She is instead opting for digital watermarking that links the identity of the purchaser to the copy of the e-book. This doesn’t prevent copyright theft but does ensure that any copies will be traceable to a particular user. This is similar to how iTunes is DRM-free, but embeds user account information within each file purchased.

Great move, and I wonder how the shop owners such as Amazon or B&N feel about this? I’m also wondering if Amazon will finally sort out the disconnect between Amazon bought books and personal documents. For example link to non-Amazon bought books.

The disconnect between self published and mass published will hopefully get much smaller encouraging even more to attempt self publishing.

Thinking Digital conference Kindle test1

Thinking Digital Conference Schedule on a Kindle

For those who have been interested in my kindle hacking/project. I’m happy to say the Thinking Digital conference schedule is now up on the Amazon Kindle store.

I might need to do some tweaking and yes it doesn’t look the best but remember it is a hack test and we can clean up the schedule next time for sure.

The first thing you will notice is the schedule actually costs money to download. £0.70 in the UK. The reason for this was down to Amazon. They charge a minimum fee of £0.99 to store and share the book over Amazon’s Whispernet. Although I think this is a bit of a rip off, specially because thinking digital already have a PDF version which they host on there own site, its not bad if this experiment does actually work. And heck, conference organizers could use it to make a little extra too I guess.

The Tweet URLs now seem to resolve to the book ok, which is a promising sign that my conclusions are actually correct.

So next step is to tell Herb Kim about the ebook and add notes next week at Thinking Digital. Hopefully I can pursued a couple of people to add notes too, so we can test the collaborative feature out. If you want to be part of that test, give me a shout… It should work on any device which runs the Kindle software.

The ebook dilemma

My sister and I spoke on Skype the other day and I said to her I finally got around to reading What the Dog saw by Malcolm Gladwell which she bought for me about 2 years ago at Christmas. Yes about 2 years to read a book (of course it didn’t take that long in reality) but it did take a while in between all the other stuff I was doing. I guess I should have read it while I was in hospital last year.

She said she had watched a programme on BBC Three called Kara Tointon: Don’t Call Me Stupid. It was all about Dyslexia. And she had kind of got it. I had watched the same programme a while ago on demand and to be fair I did think it was going to be crap but actually it was pretty good, even though I had never ever heard of Kara Tointon, and to be slight blunt don’t really care.

I’m a hard person to buy presents for and of course I want to make it as easy as possible for loved ones to buy stuff for me if they would like to. Books are a regular choice but they usually end up on my book shelf and read by myself sometimes up to a year or so later. In actual fact I have a fantastic book which Si Lumb lent me a while ago around late Summer. called Last night a Dj saved my life. Its right by my bedside but I’ve never read more that 5 pages of it so far.

We talked about the possibility of ordering a ebook and sending it to me via Amazon’s Wispernet but it worries me. So far I’ve never bought a kindle book, just uploaded ebooks from elsewhere. My problem with ebooks is simply the DRM. Yes I have a kindle right now and there’s readers on most devices and platforms (no linux client by the way, but there is a web client now) but what happens when I don’t? What happens when Sony bring out a decent ebook reader which is colour and half the weight of the kindle (aka the weight of a feather) or maybe someone develops a foldable eink display… How am I going to move my books from the Kindle to what ever? On top of that, don’t even get me started on the sharing aspect….

So in light of this, I suggested to my sister that she should in future just get me Amazon gift tokens and I can use them for books or ebooks. Its not as personal/nice as buying a book but it also works and theres much more chance of me actually reading it.

A kindle review by a art direction student

Anna Frew is doing a masters in Art and Design and is majoring in the conflict of ebooks and books. I met her at a Manchester Social Media Cafe in January and found her very intriguing.

So after chatting for a while we got on to the topic of the kindle and ebooks. This was just after BBC Backstage ebook went live. So I had lots of tips how we did the ebooks and how I generally do most of my ebook stuff. Anyway, she wrote up some of the conversation on her blog while reviewing her new Kindle.

I also like how I can alter the line length on the screen. Reading from line to line is something I struggle with in large bodies of text. Often I find myself lost within a text so being able to narrow the text made it much easier to read longer passages. This is problem common for dyslexic people so I think the kindle has great scope as a tool for dyslexic students with long texts to read. I know I would have appreciated being able to do that with some of my readings. Also being able to have all of the texts you need in one place in light weight form will also increase its selling points for students.

The fact that you can very easily put your own work onto the Kindle is also a great plus. Something which is much more difficult with apple products. This is very useful for presenting my work for assessment. Using the hack ‘Calibre’ also has great potential. This is a programme which allows you to turn any online content into an e-book. For example a blog. This means I can put these blog entries straight onto my Kindle for assessment in an organised way, without time consuming reformatting.

Its also very interesting to see her list of positives and negatives for ebooks.

One person to watch in the future I think… (more of this to come soon)

Swap your kindle for a ton of books?

Do you love books?

Do you love books so much that you’d buy a kindle and sell your kindle for a stack of books? Yeah I thought not…

But just in-case your thinking about giving up on your kindle. Microcosm Publishing will take your bet.

I think its all stupid but to be fair Microcosm must have knew it was going to get there name in almost every news site and blog. So to be fair to them, good on them. I wonder how many people have taken up there offer. Although I think the swap is for new books, so its hardly cost effective but then again a 2nd hand kindle can’t be worth that much, can it?

Its also worth noting that Amazon ebooks outsold Hardbooks

E-books have hit a significant milestone. In each of the last three months, Amazon reports that sales of books for Kindle have outpaced the sale of hardcover books, and that growth is only accelerating.

…and Paperbacks just recently

The ebook revolution has swept past two more milestones in its ferocious advance upon the bastions of literary culture. As the Man Booker prize embraces the digital era, the online retail giant Amazon has announced that sales of Kindle editions have overtaken paperbacks in the US.

TED Books? But will it share?

In my email today, a email from Chris Anderson of TED,

I’m delighted to share with you a significant new step in our efforts to promote "ideas worth spreading". We’re announcing today the launch of TED Books. TED Books are to Books as TED Talks are to lectures. They’re short, pithy, riveting. They’re designed to express a single big idea in a way that can be absorbed in a single sitting. A typical 18-minute TED Talk might be around 2000 words. A typical traditional book is at least 60,000 words. TED Books nicely fill the gap in between. They come in at 10,000-20,000 words. So they can be read and absorbed in an hour or two.

These books are designed for electronic distribution. We are launching with the Amazon Kindle Singles program which opened today. The Kindle platform allows books to be read on iPad, iPhone, Android phones, PC and Mac – as well as the dedicated Kindle readers. Each TED Book costs just $2.99 (but may cost more in international markets)

Interestingly me and Nicole were just talking about my Kindle and reading non-fiction books. I have quite a few non-fiction books like Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent tipping point. I regularly lend them out to friends and family.

I’ll be interested to see what permissions are attached to the these ebooks. Ideally it would be very open and easily sharable. But thats not going to happen… Wishful thinking on my behalf I think but its a shame because the authors seems to be publishing under the TED brand, so I imagine it wouldn’t be that hard to convince the authors to make there work freely available or at least with less restrictions. Oh well…

The history of BBC Backstage (the ebook)

At long last the Book charting the highlights of BBC Backstage is available for everyone to download and read.

Download in [PDF] [print ready PDF] [EPUB] [MOBI] [RTF]

Originally I wanted to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of backstage in May 2010 with a book made up with the contributions of the actual people who made it work over the years. So I contracted Suw Charman Anderson back in early 2010 to start work collecting the material for the backstage book and newspaper.

By April 2010, she collected and started to write up whole sections of the book with help from Kevin Anderson (Suw’s husband and good friend of Backstage). The whole thing was done over Gmail, Google Docs, Basecamp and Dropbox. The plan was to go to print with the book by Thinking Digital 2010, which was also the time when I was going to announce the closure of BBC Backstage. Of course we all know what happened in May/June to me (I had the bleed on the brain if you don’t remember).

This of course put everything in a tail spin and so we missed all the dates for printing, publishing and announcing the end of Backstage.

So fast forward to the point when I’m out of hospital and things are shifting at work. It made sense to pick up the large body of work which was almost finished back in May and put it out in the public domain. Of course this was easier said that done.

Brendan Crowther, Ant Miller and Adrian Woolard worked there socks off collecting together all the bits which were floating on these different services. Not only that, they built a small team of professionals who helped manage the process of making the ebook (as it became).

One of the things which I never got around to doing before my bleed was the design of the book. We had planned to use the newspaper club’s default templates with a little fix here and there. But Nicole Rowlands has done a amazing job stamping her distinct style into the ebook.The copy also had a rethink and re-edit by Bill Thompson and Production editor Jim McClellan. Between all these people and of course Sarah Mines everybodies favorite BBC publicist and PR Lady…

….We finally give the world Hacking the BBC: A Backstage retrospective.

BBC Backstage was a five year initiative to radically open up the BBC, publishing information and data feeds, connecting people both inside and outside the organisation, and building a developer community. The call was to “use our stuff to make your stuff” and people did, to the tune of over 500 prototypes.

This ebook is a snapshot of some of the projects and events that Backstage was involved in, from its launch at Open Tech 2005, through the triumph of Hack Day 2007 and the shot-for-web R&DTV, to current visualisation project DataArt. We take a diversion to Bangladesh to see how a Backstage hacker helped the World Service keep reporting through the horrendous Cyclone Sidr, and look at the impact of the ‘playground’ servers, used inside the BBC.

Backstage’s mandate, throughout its history, was for change. It changed the way people think, the way the BBC interacted with external designers and developers, and the way that they worked together. So what remains, now Backstage is no more? The legacy isn’t just a few data feeds and some blog posts. Backstage brought about permanent change, for the people who worked there, for its community of external developers and for the BBC. What better legacy could one ask for?

Download in [PDF] [print ready PDF] [EPUB] [MOBI] [RTF]

The future of publishing is writable

Newsweek book are not dead bezos

Imran posted a link on his facebook wall.

The future of publishing is writable, Trends of smaller, easier, and more personal content signal a shift away from read-only publishing.

There are three convergence trends in publishing that are already apparent.

One clear long-term trend is that smaller pieces of information are being published. Considering just modern digital forms of publishing, there is a roughly chronological progression toward smaller publications: emails, Usenet postings, web pages, blog posts, blog comments, tweets, tags.

A second trend is a reduction in friction. As access to easy-to-use and inexpensive publishing technology increases, it becomes economically feasible to publish smaller and less valuable pieces of content. We have reached the point where anyone with access to the Internet can easily and cheaply publish trivial, tiny pieces of information — even single words.

The third trend is the rise of publishing personal information. Our inescapable sociability is driving us to shape the Internet into a mechanism for publishing information about ourselves.

These three trends — smaller, easier, more personal — provide a framework to examine the development of online information publishing.

Absolutely…

In a session at BarCampManchester4 titled Ebooks, I was invited to talk about my Kindle ebook reader. I said I have never bought a book from the Amazon Kindle store and may never do.

So the obvious thing people thought was that I download ebooks from questionable sources. But in actual fact most of my ebook collection is either creative commons licensed ebooks such as cory doctorow’s books or there self published content formed from scraping websites using the much loved calibre and its scripts. Its scripts work with everything from standard sites, google reader, instapaper, readitlater, etc, etc.

I’m not saying I’m a self publisher but if you do look at the percentage of ebooks I’ve made/republished compared to the ones I’ve bought or downloaded. Its clear going by my own habits is we going towards a writable, self publishing future.

Kindle everywhere your ebooks everywhere…

Kindle everywhere

Amazon are really cornering the reader market. Not only do they have one of the best ebook readers, but its also one of the cheapest (using there ability to ship many of them). But what really smashed it for them has to be the app which pretty much runs on everything. From PC’s to Android phones. Windows phone 7 to the ipad. Now there launching a kindle for the web. This will optimise any browser into a ebook reader. Impressive stuff.

But I’m worried…

This all seems to be out of the same play book as Apple and there itunes music ecosystem. I can already imagine the special links being sent around social networks pointing into the kindle ecosystem. The only saving grace is the kindle for the web.

Hopefully Amazon will follow the Google approach with these things and leverage the web not fight against it.

If Amazon screw up, Google seem to be right behind with there own ebook store.

What does this mean for the Kindle device, well this is all good news for the Kindle. Kindle is a fantastic eink device but shouldn’t be the only place to see ebooks. Hopefully more people will make there way through ebooks on devices like their phones then make there way towards reading on a eink device. I use to read my ebooks on my PDA (compaq ipaq) and it was painful but I found myself getting use to it. Now I can’t imagine using a phone or anything LCD like to read large amounts of text. But thats just me…

Its great Kindle is everywhere, and people can choose how they want to view the ebooks, period. Choice is good!

Now if they can just sort out the ability to buy a book and ebook version at the same time that would be great.

A few things I’d like to see on my kindle

My Kindle

So I’ve gotten into this lovely routine where I have Calibre automatically turns my subscriptions into ebooks for me and then I connect my Kindle to the USB to automatically sync the items. Then I sit in a nice coffee/tea shop reading my google reader unread subscriptions, readitlater, instapaper, etc. With the experimental webkit browser any links I want to check out, I can check them out using the cafe’s public wifi. The only issue is I really want some way of bookmarking with delicious or even readitlater the important stuff that I read.

I don’t know if you can add bookmarklets to the experimental webkit browser but that would be ideal.

My other alternative is some kind of note taking app on the kindle its self. I know you can add annotations to books but it seems getting them off isn’t as straight forward as it should be. Although I love just being able to read stuff on the kindle screen, I wouldn’t mind some blogging app. The keyboard is not bad and being able to draft up a blog entry would be great, specially when you google reader on the device its self. I’m also wondering if I can make use of Conduit again to do some transferring of notes, like I had planned for my Sony Ereader.

So in ideally I’d like to see a full blogging app, a browser with bookmarklets and Ideally a evernote client.

Come on say it with me, Evernote on a wireless kindle would be amazing and dare I say a killer app for the kindle3.