Every morning in a Madrid suburb, after getting his son to playschool, Daniel Lombraña González opens his laptop and logs into crowdcrafting.com, the website he runs. For five years he’s watched its users grow from tens to thousands to tens of thousands. And these aren’t users sharing cat photos. Every user is a volunteer in one of humankind’s greatest scientific advances: massive, collaborative research, powered by humans solving problems that computers can’t.
Este artículo constituye la primera de 3 entregas sobre la edición digital en América Latina. El texto es en buena medida una actualización del informe La edición digital en los países en desarrollo (2011), aunque con un énfasis aun mayor puesto en los dispositivos móviles. En esta entrega, nos concentraremos en la influencia de las redes sociales en la lectura digital, en el desarrollo de tiendas en línea y en el surgimiento de las bibliotecas virtuales o “Nubes de libros”.
What self-publishers lack is not skill, but the relationship between an author and a publisher.
I make a lot of books, so authors often ask me: should I find a publisher or self-publish? And I usually say, ‘publishers don’t add any skills you can’t hire in yourself.’ Read more
It is undeniable that the mobile Web can help to reduce the digital divide. Developments in this field have allowed greater access to web content in numerous countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But what happens when it comes to creation and participation? How do we promote an open mobile web in which local users can be active players, rather than passive consumers? To discuss these issues, which are of vital importance for the publishing world, we talked to Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation.
The intercultural, interdisciplinary and multilingual journal Bibliodiversity’s last issue focuses on the “Digital South”, thus highlighting the relatively unknown reality of digital publishing in countries of the South.
Based on a selection of the best papers and interviews published in French, Spanish and English on the Digital Lab of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers (IAIE), Bibliodiversity proposes a fresh outlook and provides a platform for voices that were until now little heard, or rather little listened to.
In a presentation at TEDxAIMS on 20 January, Arthur Attwell argued that the idea that “technology spreads quickly” is a common misconception. As wealthy, technology-oriented people, it suits us to say “technology spreads quickly”, but for most people in the world, new technology arrives late and slowly. The speed at which technology spreads is of course relative to our individual perception of time and progress. If we choose to believe it’s quick, argues Attwell, then we risk building products that our customers can’t use.
From the talk:
For instance, we’re told and we believe that the mobile web is moving like lightning through Africa. Then why, according to our recent census, do 65 per cent of South Africans have no Internet access at all? Why, five years since M-PESA revolutionised low-cost banking in Kenya, do we still not have a mobile-banking service in South Africa that the poor can afford?
Last month, a report said that broadband access in South Africa had more than doubled in the last two years. Is that fast? Well, it sounds fast. But if we remove the celebratory tone from the press release, maybe it isn’t. Broadband penetration increased from 5% to 11% of South Africans. So, here’s the most revolutionary, democratising, business-enabling technology ever invented and in two whole years we shift the needle by a measly 6 per cent.
New technology spreads slowly.
On the 11th of November, 2012, India presented version 2 of its Aakash tablet. The device comes with a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and a 7-inch screen. One of the most striking things about the Aakash is its reduced cost: the Indian state will pay 41 dollars for each appliance, while students will be able to get one at the (subsidized) price of 21 dollars.
The scale of production promises to be huge: at least 220 million tablets will be turned out over the next 5 years. Despite the difficulties faced by the first version, the Aakash will no doubt become an essential digital reading platform in developing countries.
To discuss and delve into these topics, Octavio Kulesz talked to Vinutha Mallya. Vinutha is currently Consulting Editor to Mapin Publishing, and a Contributing Editor to Publishing Perspectives. She also serves as a visiting faculty member to India’s National Book Trust’s publishing course, and as an advisor to the annual Publishing Next conference.
Ken Banks has written a superb article on mobile technology in developing countries (M4D). He is concerned that:
1. Everyone is still excited by the potential of mobile
2. The same projects surface over and over again as proof mobile works
3. Mobile is still largely seen as a solution, not a tool
4. It’s up to the developed world to get mobile working for the poor
5. The top-down mindset is alive and well
Banks is the founder of kiwanja.net, which “helps social innovators, entrepreneurs and non-profit organisations make better use of information and communication technologies in their work”. He’s also a key contributor to the revolutionary FrontlineSMS. In his article he argues:
Development is changing, powered by accessible and affordable liberating technologies and an emerging army of determined, local talent. A local talent that is gradually acquiring the skills, resources and support it needs to take back ownership of many of its problems – problems it never took original ownership of because those very skills and resources were not available.
Well, now they are. The ICT4D community – education establishments, donors and technologists among them – need to collectively recognise that it needs to ajdust to this new reality, and work with technologists, entrepreneurs and grassroots non-profits across the developing world to accelerate what has become an inevitable shift.
Last July, Arthur spoke at TEDxCapeTown on the surprising power of the photocopier, and how he’s using the ebook revolution in publishing to deliver books using photocopiers in developing countries. The text of the talk is also available.
Over on his blog, Arthur has written some guidelines on what you need to know when choosing an ereader, or recommending one to someone else. This info is especially important for publishers. In our consulting, it’s surprising how often publishers want to sell ebooks without being ebook readers themselves. If you want to sell ebooks, you have to know the basics.
So you’ve decided that that many people can’t be wrong: it’s time to get an ereader. But which one? The industry of ereaders and other mobile devices is filled with big and small companies promising you the world, and you don’t trust half of it.
The cruel truth is that no one can tell you exactly what’s best for you. Everyone’s preferences are different. You simply have to figure it out for yourself, and this might be an expensive journey. That said, if you’re going to take the plunge, here’s my two cents’ worth. It might help you dodge a few bullets along the way.