BTB #283: Predicting the Present

Joseph EspositoPredicting the future is a dangerous proposition, but predicting the present isn’t necessarily any easier a task. In his closing keynote presentation to the recent NFAIS 2012 Conference, Joseph Esposito echoed science fiction author William Gibson, who said, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” In other words, the raw materials of our future scenarios are lying all around us.

In his address, Esposito touched on various futuristic aspects of present-day publishing, including the implications of mobile computing; the encroachment on the academic and professional publishing spaces by consumer technology companies; and the future of the academic library as a purchasing point, as he wrote about for SSP’s “Scholarly Kitchen” blog.

“Publishing is the most innovative industry in the world. As a species, we publishers are people who go out looking for new ideas. We track new ideas,” Esposito told CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “Unfortunately, we don’t always take those new ideas and bring them to bear on the operations of the business itself. That’s what we’ve not been good at. We’re good inside the box, and inside the box, we continue to refresh all of the products we do. We’re just not as good outside the box.

Prior to setting up his consulting business, Joseph Esposito served as CEO of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Tribal Voice, and SRI Consulting. He is the recipient of grants from the Mellon, MacArthur, and Hewlett Foundations, all concerning research into new aspects of publishing. His activities especially concern research publishing, and the migration to digital services from a print background.

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