NASIG 2011: Books in Chains

Speaker: Paul Duguid

Unlike the automotive brand wars, tech brand wars still require a level of coordination and connectivity between each other. Intel, Windows, and Dell can all be in one machine, and it became a competition as to which part motivated the purchase.

The computer/tech supply chain is odd. The most important and difficult component to replace is the hard drive, and yet most of us don’t know who makes the drives in our computers. It makes a huge difference in profit when your name is out front.

Until the mid 1800s, the wine sold had the retailer name on it, not the vineyard. Eventually, that shifted, and then shifted again to being sold by the name of the varietal.

In the book supply chain, there are many links, and the reader who buys the book may not see any of the names involved, and at different times in history, the links were the brand that sold it. Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling tried to trademark their names so that publishers could not abuse them.

In academia, degrees are an indication of competency, and the institution behind the degree is a part of the brand. Certification marks began with unions in the US, and business schools were among the first to go out and register their names. However, it gets tricky when the institution conferring the degrees is also taking in fees from students. Is it certification or simply selling the credentials?

Who brands in publishing? We think the author, but outside of fiction, that starts to break down. Reference works are generally branded by the publisher. Reprint series are branded by the series. Romances are similar. Do we pay attention to who wrote the movie, TV series, or even newspaper article?

What happens when we go digital? The idealist’s view is that information wants to be free. The pragmatic view is that information needs to be constrained. Many things that are constraints are also resources. The structure and organization of a newspaper has much to do with the paper it is on. Also, by limiting to what fits on the paper, it conveys an indication of importance if it makes it into print. Free information suffers from a lack of filters to make the important bits rise to the top.

We think of technologies replacing each other, but in fact they tend to create new niches by taking away some but not all of the roles of the old tech. What goes and what stays is what you see as integral.

switching teams

No, not that team!

This evening, I placed an order through the Apple Education Store for a brand-new 20-inch 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with iWork ’08 preinstalled. I have been eying this thing for months as a replacement for my Compaq Presario R3000 laptop. The old girl is still chugging along, but her memory is failing and she can’t keep up with all the apps I need to run at the same time.

I decided to go for a desktop since that’s really what I need at home now. The Presario worked okay as both my desktop and portable laptop, but it’s heavy, and the keyboard isn’t comfortable for long-term use. A Macbook would be lighter, but the keyboard thing would still be an issue. And, since I have a laptop at work, I won’t need to have something to cover the portability thing. In any case, I mainly needed it for work-related things such as taking notes at conferences and staying connected to work while on the road.

I waffled for a while between getting a Windows machine or getting a Mac, but in the end I decided that I’d get more bang for my buck with a Mac. I’m sure there will be a few applications I’ll miss from my PC, but from what I understand, there are more and more equivalent or better applications to do the same thing on a Mac, plus there’s the whole Parallels thing if I want to bother with it.

I’m not going to get rid of the ol’ Presario anytime soon, either. I’m pretty sure it will take me a while to transfer all my important files, and I may just turn her into my dedicated music server, depending on whether or not my external hard drive containing all my tunes will work with the iMac or not.

stop! thief!

It’s National Library Week, and in an usual move, Intel has ticked off quite a few librarians. Not intentionally, mind you, but their offer of $10,000 for a copy of the Electronics Magazine issue where Moore’s Law was first published has caused library-owned copies of the journal to go missing since the announcement was made. Hopefully the stolen volumes will be returned once the thieves realize that the company won’t buy library copies from individuals.