Optimizing Your Web Presence
“The biggest thing we have to fear is invisibility in publishing,” he says. “If you’re not out there in the search engines, on blogs and on the [Wikipedia’s], and being part of the new information environment, you are disappearing. And that’s the worst thing. Figuring out how to participate in all these things is the biggest challenge for publishers. We’re used to having products that once you’re done with them you’re done with them.”
His advice to publishers—especially STM publishers—who have yet to embrace the Web, is for them to do so.
“Go for it,” he says. “Don’t let fear be the main driver.”
The Problem Solver
As a kid growing up in Indiana and Nebraska, and later as a student at Indiana University and the University of Nebraska, computers didn’t factor into Jensen’s career plans.
“I was an English major,” Jensen says. “I got involved with computers as a typesetter. I realized very quickly that the computer was a tool of solving problems. We keep running into new problems to solve. That’s the fun of it. … It’s certainly very new, and it’ll be a long time until it matures.”
After several successful stints with University of Nebraska Press and The Johns Hopkins University Press, in 1998 Jensen joined the National Academies Press (NAP)—which was created by the National Academies to publish the reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council—to oversee the group’s online presence.
He would soon become the principal developer of some of the most ground-breaking developments in Web publishing, including the NAP’s Openbook online navigation system—a technology similar to Amazon’s Look Inside and Google Book Search, but developed several years earlier.
Today, visitors to the site view six or seven pages per visit, as opposed to the the industry norm of one or two pages, according to Jensen. He credits the NAP’s executive director, Barbara Kline Pope, with encouraging the team to take risks and letting them build the site the way they did.