Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Wave of the Future

I had occasion the other day to go digging around in the CD archive files of the publisher I work for. And in the course of my project I realized that, back in the day, we kept totally separate filing systems for our Book and Gift projects. Back then, publishing Formats (notecards, postcards, stationery, blank journals, novelty items, etc, etc) was a relatively new business, and was therefore maintained as its own separate country, with different archives, different processes, different rules, and, I imagine, just a few people who knew what all those things were.

These days non-books are just a regular part of the business, like books. And so the way we make both of those kinds of things is relatively similar--following the same basic rules of thumb, sharing the same drawers in the file cabinet, and so forth. And it occurred to me that these days, what Gift once was, Digital has now become--an exciting, mysterious, new-but-fast-growing area of the publishing business--in most cases probably managed by just a few hardworking people within a company, who create their own systems which only they really understand.

I've actually been doing a fair bit of Digital learning lately--folks here are wonderful about being educators and sharing information (for instance, did you know that you can check ebooks out of your public library? pretty neat). But I appreciate the fact that my little bit of proudly-held knowledge right now will, in ten or fifteen years when I look back on it, look about like my one-year-old daughter's current grasp on talking. And we will all look back and laugh at the notion of a time when digital was this odd separate thing, because by then it will be, of course, naturally, just part of what we do.

The wave of the future isn't the hot trendy thing that's next. It's the forward march of time, as inexorable as the tide, which will inevitably make that which seems strange and exotic today seem normal and even ho-hum tomorrow. Or we can think of it as that future time when things will be different, just sitting out there on the timeline, waving at us and waiting for us to catch up.

source for final image is here

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