Webstock Workshop: Craig Mod

Sketch notes from Criag Mod's Webstock workshop: Subcompact Publishing

Super, great morning at Craig Mod's Webstock workshop entitled Subcompact Publishing.

We spent the morning talking about publishing systems, the jump between the physical artifact and the digital version, and the boundaries between HTML and books.

When talking to people, I particularly enjoy hearing about how they do things, so hearing the process behind Craig's 7 year journey to build software to share good quality, long form stories was really interesting. He let us all log into the software and we left the workshop to capture content out in the wild. Basically, he got us to do the first round of user testing for him. It was great - he sent us out for ten fast minutes to take photos and record our thoughts - then asked us to extend those thoughts when we came back into the workshop. This blended well into the next subject which was creating Kindle books.

While he told us that using this Amazon system to create digital books was like the "ugliest sausage-making process" and the compiler was built by "people who hate people" he still regarded Amazon's Kindle had the most bang for one's buck suggesting that one can get 80% results for 20% effort.

Craig compiled our "extended sketches" (the content we'd gathered in our ten minutes out in the world, and ten minutes fleshing out the content back in the workshop) into the Kindle format and published to the Amazon Store. It was amazing really - I hadn't really thought about it before but I thought it would've been more difficult to do. It was inelegant, and probably annoying with the inexplicable errors thrown by the compiler, but there were no checks on content or quality so basically, if you have the desire and the software, anyone can publish a book this way.

Pretty awesome, really.

It does beg the same question the evolution of blogs brought with it: if anyone can publish a book, doesn't that mean that there will be lots of really crappy books out there? Craig assured us that there were already lots of crappy books out there, and maybe lowering the bar might bring some wonderful diamonds within our reach that may not have had a chance before.

I'm looking forward to Craig's talk at the Webstock conference (proper) on Thursday morning too, stay tuned for more notes.

Webstock workshop with Craig Mod - photo from Webstock's Flickr stream