ISC Conference 2012, Day 1—American Society for Indexing’s Digital Trends Task Force

ASI’s David Ream and Jan Wright gave the ISC a report on their work with the Digital Trends Task Force (DTTF), which came into being  in the summer of 2011 after the issue of electronic publication indexing was brought up at the ASI conference earlier that year.

The task force actively participated in the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), a consortium of businesses and organizations involved in defining the new EPUB 3.0 standard. By establishing a special indexers’ working group in the IDPF, and with the Australia and New Zealand Society of Indexers’ membership in the IDPF, indexers made their presence known to a much wider community of players driving the future of electronic publishing. (EPUB is the open source format that can be read on the iPad, Nook, Kobo, Sony readers, and other e-readers. The notable exception is the Kindle, which uses a different format.)

The task force also set out to do industry outreach at such events as the Digital Book World and O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conferences. With this kind of outreach, the ASI could establish itself as an authority about indexing in a digital age. At the latter conference, a recurring concern of electronic publishers was the issue of discovery, since traditional channels, like bookstores and libraries, are now out of the equation. Indexing—and indexers—Ream and Wright pointed out, was the gateway to discovery, and because discovery means money, publishers are more likely to listen to indexers if we emphasize discovery. (Interestingly, Amazon did not participate in Tools of Change.)

Wright also presented at the WritersUA conference. WritersUA, based in the U.S., is a group of technical writers, which have had to deal with the issue of single-sourcing—and a move to XML—years ago. They have experience solving the kinds of problems trade publishers are only now beginning to face.

Wright’s outreach extended to being a guest on #ePrdctn Hour on Twitter, which, as a platform, Wright said, was more powerful than she could have ever imagined. After her Twitter hour, establishing herself as an expert in the nascent field of ebook indexing, Wright was able to reach organizations and companies that otherwise would have been much harder to access. For instance, she is now able to talk directly to Adobe engineers about InDesign’s scripts for ebooks.

The ASI is trying to get the Digital Trends Task Force to conferences that indexers don’t usually attend, focusing on the themes of monetization and semantic metadata.

To stay informed about digital trends affecting indexers, Wright and Ream suggest joining the DTTF’s LinkedIn group and following TidBITS, Peter Meyers (@petermeyers on Twitter), and Joe Wikert.

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