Tuesday, May 07, 2013

All Change At Tools of Change

Often knowing when to stop and move on is harder than continuing to plough the same old furrow.

Last week Tim O’Reilly decide to call it a day on his well respected ‘Tools of Change’ adventure. 

Many applauded him for the work he had done in moving the digital agenda forward, whilst others said he should continue and owed it to his follows to keep up the work. We are not able to say what tipped his thinking to flip his attention elsewhere, but will say that we should never expect any party to go on forever.

Tools of Change arrived at the right time. It fed the appetite of many to understand the emerging digital landscape and listen to those breaking new ground. It certainly pulled together the brightest and reshaped the Book Fair World. We attended one of the conferences and found ourselves wondering what all these folk attending would be doing, or adopting, if they didn’t have this focal point?

Does the shutting up of the Tools of Change mean we are fully conversant with digital and change? We would suggest not and change is all around us. But it does signal the end of the beginning and the question now is as what follows and how will that help shape our thinking. Perhaps it signals the end to the mega conference, which in our opinion is probably well overdue, but again we have thought that for a long time. Perhaps it signals an end to the ‘payola’ conference where money can buy the platinum sponsor a speaking slot, a booth, literature in the delegate pack and even if they have little to say. We refused to be drawn into this sham circuit with its often predictable group of speakers and luvvies.

Perhaps it draws an end to the constant barrage of conferences and pulls them together around major Book Fairs.

Others will step into the void and some are already doing so, but are they merely replicating the formula or adding new ingredients?

We remember Richard Charkin shutting up his blog, which was insightful but often more a mixture of social insights and executive travels than a commendatory on digital advancement. Then Evan Schnittman took off those Black Plastic Glasses and said we are now digital time to put this pen down. Now Tools of Change is moving on.

It’s ironic that this last month we have written nothing. Were we missed? Did the digital world stop spinning? Probably we were the ones most frustrated and itching to write about so many things, but we found ourselves not with writer’s block as much as a desire to get on with something different.

We have just announced our Read Petite venture with ex Chief Editor of the Bookseller, Neill Denny, Agent and broadcaster, Peter Cox and founder of Waterstone’s Tim Waterstone. We found ourselves wanting to write about Read Petite at the expense of all else. That would clearly be wrong but how do we balance the industry commentary with what we feel so passionately about?

After some 2,200 blogs, we have decided it’s not time to move on but it is time to start to rethink what we write and how we communicate it. It’s a bit like when Bibliophile started t do video reviews to supplement the text ones. We saw the power of the visual the passion of the reviewer and realised that text reviews are good but are only they because that was the only way we could effectively express them. Today music is about YouTube more than it’s about iTunes. Conferences are more about TED than packing a room full of delegates and collecting money of the speaker’s companies. Commenting on change is about effecting it and helping it happen than writing about it.

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