2014-04-23

Google & University Presses: On U Presses Cashing in on the Potential of the Web, Potentially

“My company and I would like to give folks a nigh-infinitely scalable digital map of every street in the world that they can 'fly' around in like a video game, and after that we’ll build eyeglasses that surf the web and self-driving cars.

“So, naturally, our first step will be to put a new search algorithm up on the web, in a single framed search box, so folks can find webpages better.”

Google had a good idea and a fine algorithm. But, no one short of shaman-grade crazy saw web-enabled eyeglasses and self-driving cars as likely later/next steps–or as their ultimate goal when first they set out.

Do what you can do now; find out what you can do next, after. Then, do that. It’s how we learn to walk, run, and build unimaginable things like driver-less cars.

When considering U Presses building a collective immersive online environment, folks often ask "key questions" that only focus on one aspect of what might have been a partial near-term goal (back in the days of the newness of the web); e.g., how will that succeed in selling books (i.e., specifically on such a site that U might build; because all we can imagine are real-world things reconstituted online, such as an "online" bookstore). However, key questions depend on what strategic intent/s and ends might be in the near term, in the long term, and beyond. And, in so far as some of those goals may be open ended or a matter of positioning for an unknown future, key questions can be manifold or moot, in current terms.

For now, I’d suggest that raising customer awareness (no matter where the purchases of those things called books take place) would bring value to the U Press network. Purchase intent is constrained by lack of brand/product awareness; by similar measure, it is often enhanced by increased brand/product awareness. Down the road, being in position to build new models, set new goals, expand into a web-based world (in ways no one else will for presses); that may well be priceless.

In sum: I’d suggest that for talented folks in a swiftly changing landscape, landmarks may be less helpful than they used to be; direction may be key. The web is a good direction.

{this is a shameless rehash of a comment, I posted originally on Scholarly Kitchen; but, I like "shaman-grade crazy" so refurnished it here.}