The Hybrid Publishing Consortium is the technology arm of the lab and is made up of a team of six researchers, developing software for multi-format publishing. The Consortium has two goals–creating robust public infrastructures for publishing and lowering the cost of digital innovation for publishers.
We employ a dual approached to digital workflows to achieve these goals–single source and dynamic publishing.
Single source publishing
Single source is the key to unlocking multi-format conversion, allowing for conversion to almost any format, like converting to formats for–eReaders, tablets or print-on-demand.
For most publishers multi-format publishing is still a nightmare. The technology available is either inefficient or too expensive.
How does single source work? At the core its about document structure. Firstly having a document that is machine readable. Secondly using open standards to keep the document components separate–content, layout and metadata. This way they can be independently edited or made use of by a user or computational process.
In partnership with the company LShift we are developing a single source software framework, called, Academic Typesetr, based on LShift’s existing technology. LShift are one of the top software companies from London’s, Tech City.
For the system our design mantra is, ‘leave the user in their natural habitat’. For the writer this is Word or Google Docs and for the graphic designer, InDesign.
Academic Typesetr will be released as Free Software before the end of the year, with the lab running a series of dynamic publishing prototypes over 2014.
Once you have a machine readable document, then you can start further automation of the workflow–distribution, rights management, and reading analytics–to name a few areas.
With automated distribution the idea of ‘publishing-on-demand’ is introduced, where the user makes a request to a repository via an API to access content for reuse and re-mixing. The user can be a library or Web 2.0 reading platform. This model enables bulk distribution into teaching and education for the BYOD market. An example being the US publisher, Flat World Knowledge.
We view dynamic publishing as a place where scholars and publishers can finally turn the corner with digital publishing, to access new audiences and new revenues.