[W]hile BERG’s work, and other pieces like it, are beautiful to see, they leave me very frustrated. The client-side development is very exciting to do — especially the systems-thinking that you need to do to take the entire customer journey from browsing to buying to backing-up — but the harder work, the more fundamental work, isn’t done. I’m talking about the editorial workflow.
Later, on workflow:
[A] real design challenge for e-books isn’t to design the user experience (which is dependent at the end of the day on the device capabilities anyway, which are pretty much unknown) but rather on designing a system that would allow existing publishers to transition their operations from ramshackle print to All Knowing Digital. We already know much of this: you can take the lessons from blogging CMSs, add in photography handling from places like Photoshelter, combine metadata collection from sources like Google Maps and OpenCalais, and version control from Git, and you’re halfway there. Combine it with process changes, where you require writers to file direct to a system that forces them to add in metadata for example, and you’re closer still. Of course, in two sentences I’ve described a process that really encompasses the whole old-media crisis, but I do think it’s a challenge that can be met.
Perhaps the beautiful work BERG’s been doing with Bonnier will help bring some palpable urgency to tackling the editorial workflow issues as well.