Publishing Opportunities in Lifelong Learning Loom Large
You're probably familiar with Moore's Law, which states that computing power doubles every couple of years. I think there should be a similar law for the amount of information and expertise most workers have to acquire in each generation.
In my own career I've had to invest a lot of time keeping up on technology, business trends, etc. My generation has faced a bigger challenge with this than my parents' generation faced. But the hill I've climbed, and continue to climb, is nothing compared to what my children and their generation will have to deal with throughout their careers.
Technology is largely to blame, or thank, depending on your point of view. But there's simply no mistaking the fact that each successive generation will have to embrace lifelong learning more than the generations that preceded them.
This represents an enormous opportunity in the content creation and distribution space. Being a lifelong learner today means you're staying up-to-date in a variety of ways. Most of that is likely self-paced and informally structured. I see that changing dramatically in the future.
There's no single leading brand or platform for lifelong learning but that will change. Think corporate continuing education, catering to individuals and organizations alike. Certifications will become more meaningful and extend well beyond the ones that are mostly limited to IT professionals today.
All of this will be built around a solid foundation of content. How-to and training content for every type of job will become even more valuable than it is today. But where will that content come from? Startups will provide some of it, as will those existing publishers and content creators who are willing to move beyond today's container-based model...and that's the key.
If you're in the business of publishing books, newspapers, or magazines and you're wedded to a particular container model you'll miss out. The successful publishers will be the ones who are willing to think outside their current container(s), granulize and tag their content for reuse and offer it in new streams and formats.
As I've said before, containers are slowly fading away and they'll be less important in the future. Now is the time for publishers to plan, acquire, develop, and manage their content for the container-less opportunities, like the lifelong learning boom, that are just around the corner.
Joe Wikert is Publishing President at Our Sunday Visitor (www.osv.com). Before joining OSV Joe was Director of Strategy and Business Development at Olive Software. Prior to Olive Software he was General Manager, Publisher, & Chair of the Tools of Change (TOC) conference at O’Reilly Media, Inc., where he managed each of the editorial groups at O’Reilly as well as the Microsoft Press team and the retail sales organization. Before joining O’Reilly Joe was Vice President and Executive Publisher at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in their P/T division.