“The World is Open vs. Flat”

According to this UK Financial Times article, Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, is contemplating his second edition — which Friedman is currently writing — be thrown in to open source (somewhat akin to Wikipedia) so that readers can update the content dynamically and instantaneously.

It is a vision that will turn his publishers – Penguin/Allen Lane in the UK and Farrar Straus Giroux in the US – pale with anxiety about the copyright implications, not to mention the risk that opponents of the book or its message about the benefits of globalisation will try to hijack the wiki edition. But it is a vision that is perfectly in tune with the picture of a globalised and inter­connected world that Mr Friedman outlines.

A version of the book that can be constantly updated may also be the only way to guarantee that it remains current. The book’s premise is that, at the beginning of this century, the world entered a new phase of globalisation, based on disruptive social, political and technological events (“flatteners”, as Mr Friedman calls them) during the latter part of the 20th century.

This is a premise for publishing that I sincerely hopes catches on and quickly. While reading John Batelle’s book The Search the day it hit the bookstore shelves, I realized that several fundamental developments in search had occurred in the months preceding publishing that would’ve been good to include. With the lead time in publishing, however, that is not feasible.

So here we go again with content cartel members (in this case publishers of books) that need to wrestle with and change their business model, just like the record and movie associations (and television networks) are being compelled to do in this age of nearly instant dissemination of digital bits.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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