The Future of Digital Publishing?

Last month’s news that NBC News is launching its first eBook publishing division, may have raised a smile of recognition from Paul Peacock, an ePublishing industry pioneer who announced his ebook publishing company in The New York Times Book Review in June 1991.

Paul, a Debategraph Associate in New York, views Debategraph as an exemplar of a new and powerful form of electronic publishing that he calls dynamic information graphs (or “difographs”); a concept that he explores in the guest post, and embedded graph, below.

Future A for digital publishing (where the word “publishing” is used, loosely, to describe the process whereby “books” are made available to the public) is to take “books” and put them into electronic containers. But they remain siloed collections of information.

With websites and blogs we are able to use hypertext “links” to jump between two-dimensional knowledge collections (between “pages” on the same site or between sites). We are not able to show anything about the relationship between these collections or explicitly show information associated with the links (although the Google algorithm could presumably tell us a lot).

This is a half-step away from Future A but still leaves us swimming in the information flow as we try to make sense of it.

A difograph or dynamic information graph is a hub-and-spoke system of information presentation laid out in space with information encoded into the “spokes” (links) that join hubs together. It can exist in two or three dimensions. Information of all kinds and types can be attached to a particular hub (in a “panel”). The difograph gives us a net to drag through the river of information so that we, standing now on the bank, can more easily understand what we are looking at. Furthermore, difographs produced by different publishing entities can be linked together, creating seamless larger networks.

Difograph publishing is the Future B of digital publishing. The “hub” is its fundamental element in the way the “book” is for the print publishing industry.


A “view” is a presentation frame centered on a particular element of a difograph. The embedded view above can be embedded on your website by clicking on the Embed link in the top navigation bar (when you are in the Display mode you prefer) to get the appropriate code. It will update automatically as changes are made to it. debategraph.org/difographe is a short web address for the graph.

Mapping the Amsterdam Declaration

The World Congress on Information Technology 2010, which began in Amsterdam earlier today, brings together over 2,000 leading figures from industry, government, and academia from over 90 countries to address the global challenges of economic, environmental and social development.

The speakers include: Paul Otellini(Intel), Stephen Elop (Microsoft), Pierre Hessler (Capgemini) , Michael Fries (Liberty Global), Neelie Kroes (Commissioner Digital Agenda European Commission), Martin Lees (Secretary-General Club of Rome), Francisco Ros Perán (Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Spain),  Tony Clement (Canadian Minister of Industry), Datuk Seri Ongkili (Federal Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia), Kumar Parakala (KPMG), Peter Sondergaard (Gartner), Virginia Rometty (IBM), Sachin Pilot (Ministry of Communications and Technology, India), Maria van der Hoeven (Minister of Economic Affairs, Netherlands), Sylvia Roelofs (ICT-Office), and William Kennard (US Ambassador to the European Union).

The conference is building towards the Amsterdam Declaration, which calls on all participants to pursue ambitious goals for the use of information technology in addressing economic growth, greenhouse gasses, the quality of life, and ensuring the global impact of these benefits.

All organisations supporting the Declaration of Amsterdam are asked undertake at least one major project in the spirit of the Declaration, and to report back on its progress and achievements at WCIT 2012  in Montreal.

As part of this process, Debategraph is working with the conference to map the Amsterdam projects and their relationships to the overarching goals – with the work-in-progress covering around 60 projects from around the world shown below:

You can follow the proceedings of the conference across the next three days live here and on Twitter via the hashtag: #WCIT2010.