During my TED-style keynote at the NCCL conference last week I talked about the disruptive nature of technology — in particular how the low barriers to entry have helped to democratize access to new forms of communication. During the course of my talk I even went so far as to say that “publishing companies are becoming obsolete.”
This line generated more chatter on Twitter than anything else in my talk, with people debating the role of publishers and what exactly I meant:
@paprockij Perhaps Jonathan @sullijo means: publishers (& catechists?) not embracing “digital revolution” are “becoming obsolete.” #nccl2012
While I wish I could claim some big insight or hidden meaning, I was actually being pretty blunt: with the advent of digital publishing platforms and the rapid adaption of ebook technologies traditional publishing companies are increasingly irrelevant. When any author can write up a text and publish it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s epublishing services, what need is there for a traditional publisher? Even marketing can be handled through blogs, YouTube trailers, and other new media outlets — indeed, high-profile bloggers are increasingly turning their online reputation into platforms for launching books.
Do I think that traditional publishers don’t have a role? Of course not — but that role will have to shift. Fortunately a number of Catholic publishers are experimenting with new media in exciting ways to connect readers with content of interest to them. Loyola Press’s DRE Connect site, Ave Maria Press’s professional webinars, and National Catholic Register’s blogs are three good examples of ways in which Catholic publishers are positioning themselves in this new media world.
The common thread is moving from distributing content to becoming a destination for readers to come and establish relationships. The more publishers can make this transition, the better positioned they will be to weather the digital revolution. Or, as my friend Barb said:
@MeredithGould If anything, being a trusted Catholic publisher with good digital material is even more important these days. #nccl2012
Following are some of the materials from my presentations at the convention. It was a privilege to be asked to address the conference. If you were there I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!
Embrace New Methods
This is the audio and slides from my Tuesday morning TED-style keynote address. I apologize for the poor audio quality; the session was taped and I’ll post the video here as soon as it is available. You can also download the slides from my presentation.
I’m heading off to San Diego today for the 76th annual National Conference for Catechetical Leadership convention and expo. I’ll also be attending an NCCL Representative Council meeting tomorrow.
Just like last year I’ll be live-tweeting the events, along with other attendees. Just look for the hashtag #NCCL2012. You can also come back to this page for updates:
Also, in your kindness, I would appreciate any prayers you could send my way as I prepare for my keynote address and breakout session on Tuesday. I am super nervous about presenting in front of 700+ people I consider to be colleagues and friends, so any grace you can send my way would be very appreciated.
Embrace New Methods (Tuesday, May 8 at 9:10a): This TED-style keynote address will focus on adapting our catechetical methods in an information-based society.
Resistance is Futile: The Catechetical Benefits of Being Assimilated by the Digital Culture (Tuesday, May 8 at 3:30p): In this learning session I will expand on the theme of my keynote by asking the question “How is the information revolution changing expectations of catechesis and catechetical leaders?” I will also examine five trends in the “digital culture” and how they may help parishes support adult faith formation.
I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but there is something about a fresh calendar that predisposes one to changing habits for the coming solar cycle. I’m not sure if it’s cultural (do the Chinese make resolutions for Chinese New Year?) or psychological, but there it is.
That having been said, here, in no particular order, are my goals for 2012:
Continue to refine this blog. I have a number of items on my “to-do” list regarding my blog. My unstated goal has been to post one substantial piece a week, with breaks during the Easter and Christmas octaves. I haven’t been as consistent in that as I would have hoped; still, I’d like to bump it up to two pieces a week. I’ve actually pre-written quite a few posts over the Christmas holiday to get me ahead of the curve. Hopefully I can keep it up! I’d also like to get serious about the non-content end of the blog, especially paying attention to metrics and making better use of my various social media presences. If you have any resources to share, I would appreciate it!
Lose 25 pounds in time for the 2012 NCCL conference in May. This is pure vanity; I’ll be giving one of the TED-style keynotes, and want to look my best.
Grow in my understanding of liturgical catechesis. Liturgy has always been my theological weak spot (my only coursework in liturgy was a single undergrad class my junior year of college), but the lead-up to the recent implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition has whet my whistle for more. This year I want to do some additional reading and study on how the liturgy catechizes and how we catechize for liturgy.
Complete and launch the [secret awesome project]. I’ve got a secret project in the works that will be of interest to all Catholic bloggers; check back here on January 16 for details!