Publishing Talks: David Wilk interviews Tim O’Reilly

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under PublishingTalks

tim-2008jpegIn this series of interviews, called Publishing Talks, I am talking to book industry professionals who have varying perspectives and thoughts about the future of publishing, books, and culture.  This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses.
Publishing has been a crucial part of human culture for as long as people have been writing and reading.  How will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and its economics? Publishing Talks interviews help us understand the outlines of what is happening, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds. Publishing Talks interviews give people in the book business a chance to talk about ideas and concerns in a public forum that are often only talked about “around the water cooler,” at industry conventions and events, and in emails between friends.
I hope that Publishing Talks interviews will give people inside and outside the book industry a chance to hear about some of the thoughts, ideas and concepts that are currently being discussed by engaged individuals within the industry.

It was very exciting for me to have a chance to interview Tim O’Reilly, widely considered to be one of the smartest and most innovative publishers around.  He’s been involved in the World Wide Web and computers for a very long time, and throughout that time, his work has been marked by intelligence, innovation, and clarity about what matters to consumers. We talked about the history of his involvement in publishing, the web, publishing technology, and his views about the way publishing needs to evolve using new digital tools and establishing new business models – with examples.

Here’s his bio: Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. The company also publishes online through the O’Reilly Network and hosts conferences on technology topics. Tim is an activist for open source, open standards, and sensible intellectual property laws.

Since 1978, Tim has led the company’s pursuit of its core goal: to be a catalyst for technology change by capturing and transmitting the knowledge of “alpha geeks” and other innovators. His active engagement with technology communities drives both the company’s product development and its marketing. Tim has built a culture where advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism are key tenets of the business philosophy.

Tim has served on the board of trustees for both the Internet Society and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, two organizations devoted to making sure that the internet fulfills its promise. He was on the board of Macromedia up until the recent merger with Adobe. He is currently on the board of CollabNet.

Tim graduated from Harvard College in 1975 with a B.A. cum laude in Classics. His honors thesis explored the tension between mysticism and logic in Plato’s dialogues.

An archive of Tim’s online articles, talks, and interviews can be found at Tim’s archive page.