I suppose we at least have to acknowledge that it is a possibility that publishing may become a totally on-line business. But such a “totally on-line” business would still do boring analog things like printing books, magazines, and newspapers. Annoyingly for the commentariat many people still seem to want these things.
It always boils down to definition of terms: does the fact that most publishers have completely digital work flows and print digitally make them digital businesses? Most of their products are sold on-line, whether they arrive as a UPS carton or a file. Orders and payments flash back and forth via EDI. Data gathering and analysis, while still inconsistently applied, are at least now acknowledged to be “a good thing”. Of course any totally on-line business has a physical aspect or two, at least cups of Starbucks and Chinese takeout. (Did you know that those square waxed paper containers with a little metal carrying handle are designed to fold out to make a plate?)
Publishing Executive addresses the implications of Microsoft’s take-over of LinkedIn in this short piece by Ellen Harvey. So much of what taker-overers say about their acquisitions is of course merely aspirational. Microsoft, for so long an ex-golden-touch company, may just be wrong in their hopes for LinkedIn as a publishing platform. On the other hand, with the right touch (and enough money) why not? It’s probably not enough to aim for “more user-friendly content experiences” though. We keep seeing articles proclaiming Facebook as the next mega publisher. So what? If that’s what people end up wanting, why shouldn’t they? Hidden behind these statements (often not so very hidden either) is the implication that this or that development will spell the end of publishing as we know it. At an idiot level, which many of these commentators seem to struggle to rise above, “anything as we know it” is “doomed” to come to an end. But that doesn’t mean that people and organizations are incapable of adjustment to new circumstances. With determination you can see 225 different species of dinosaur in Central Park. We just call them birds nowadays.