What publishers should do / Boing Boing

What publishers should do / Boing Boing

Some of you are probably familiar with TempleOS, the computer operating system designed by Terry Davis on, according to him, God’s instructions. (Rob posted about it a couple of years ago here.)

At first, I wasn’t sure what to think. I didn’t have the technical knowledge to figure out what TempleOS actually was: A real, functioning operating system along the lines of Windows or Mac OS X? Or just a strange piece of software for making your screen look like DOS crossed with Be Here Now?

Instead, what I wanted to call out was this thoughtful essay by software engineer Richard Mitton—it’s Mitton’s attempt to look at TempleOS as a work of programming, without any preconceived bias about religion or mental illness, without an angle or an axe to grind, simply as software. Gosh, is it a refreshing read in 2016:

There are many bad things to be said about TempleOS, many aspects of it that seem poorly constructed or wouldn’t work in the “real world”. I’m going to ignore them here. It’s very easy to be negative, but you will never learn anything new by doing so…

Perhaps we should instead look at TempleOS as a research operating system: what can be accomplished if you’re not locked into established thinking, backwards compatibility, and market demands.

What can we learn if we are only willing to listen?

For me, this is what publishers should do, whether they are publishing books, websites, conferences, or, well, operating systems: “Look at this. I’ll put a frame around it, because the creator cannot truly frame the work. Here is what you need to know to appreciate this. Here is how you should think about this. Consider.”

The need for this work—publishing—is more desperate than ever, and most book publishers don’t even bother to pay lip service to this essential role of their business.

Thankfully, technology makes publishers of us all, if we choose to accept the responsibility. Your blog can be your publishing house. Put together a Medium collection of your favorite essays on a subject, with commentary.

Don’t just share. Frame your selection. Offer rich, well-researched context. Stand over my shoulder and point out where I should direct my attention, what opinions and attitudes I should consider. Call out my preconceived notions. Challenge me to really look, really think, really learn, and judge for myself.

Today, I challenge you to go beyond the retweet. Find work—a notion, an argument, a story, a work of art—that excites you and challenges you and that you believe deserves broader attention, and give it a frame, some context, and a little push.


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