Jabin White's Technically Speaking

Jabin White is Vice President of Content Management for ITHAKA, an organization committed to helping the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. ITHAKA provides several services to the academic community, including JSTOR and Portico, which increase access to scholarly materials and ensure their preservation for future generations.

With a heavy background in XML theory and practice, White has spent most of his career evangelizing the benefits of markup languages and related technologies, including content management, workflow enhancements and authoring tools.

Prior to joining ITHAKA, White served as Director of Strategic Content at Wolters Kluwer Health's Professional & Education (P&E) Division, Vice President, STM Sales for Scope eKnowledge Center, and VP of Product Development at Silverchair, Inc., a leading developer of information solutions for health care publishers.

He also spent five years as Executive Director of Electronic Production at Elsevier, serving the Health Sciences Division. White started in health sciences publishing as an editorial assistant at Current Medicine and has held digital publishing positions at Mosby, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and Unbound Medicine. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University with a BA in history and has a Masters in Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Like many people, I reacted with a blend of anticipation but skepticism (let's call it skeptitation) when the iPad dropped earlier this year. The hype around technology products, and Apple products in particular, can be overwhelming. I rage against this over-hyping as much as I can, but there is no denying that the iPad has made a significant impact on information providers and their strategies.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the future. I find that so much more actionable than thinking about the past. The problem is, to quote the great wordsmith Yogi Berra, "The future ain't what is used to be."

In my last post,  I wrote about—heck, I guaranteed—that XML wasn’t going anywhere. I’m usually not such a big trash talker, but I firmly believe this—mostly because you can use XML to future-proof content, as well as the fact that putting any structured tagging in your content could be leveraged, even if XML goes away. Which it won’t (I know, nice English).

A few years back, I was giving a presentation about all the wonderful things our company was going to be able to do with XML, and that we should get to it.  Only thing was, our company was in the midst of being acquired by a major Dutch company that had a pretty strong reputation in their handling of XML (names have been omitted to protect the innocent).

I had a lot of fun last week speaking at the SIIA’s Brown Bag series on a panel called “Beyond the eBook” with a few colleagues, new and old (the relationships, not the people). But there was an interesting element to it that I thought was funny, and would like to share.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I quickly became labeled as the “curmudgeon” or “technology cynic” because of a number of factors, all of them self-inflicted. Again, it was all good natured, but my unwillingness to rush out and buy an iPad transformed me into the technology curmudgeon in the room. I absolutely I loved it.

Back during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, advisor James Carville famously kept a sign in his office that said: “It’s the economy, stupid.”  It served to keep the campaign focused, despite the many distractions of the campaign, on an issue that their polling showed mattered MOST to most people. It was an offshoot of the KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid (how come all slogans seem to assume I’m stupid?).

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