Tutorial as a Startup

By Kevin Shockey
June 14, 2012 | Comments: 0

logo-v4.gifI'm a persistent and often lucky explorer. I benefit from having seen a long line of technology over a long time. While everyone might be caught up in the Internet as the new development platform. I merely see a another point in an endless cycle of information technology (server, client, client/server, server, client, client/server...).

Nearly everything new is just another new cycle. Extreme programming has its roots in foundational research on algorithms, process, and databases. Big Data, has its roots on the day we spun up the first bank of washing machine sized disk drives connected to an IBM 360. We have always been keenly interested in the management of data and production of information.


Lean Publishing

At TOC for Publishing in 2012, lean publishing was one the big take-aways. I highly recommend Eric Ries' Keynote. As Eric is quick to point out, publishing is now in the software business. his recommendation for publishers was to form a new group to cull through your reject pile and see if any of the books rejected might be a diamond in the rough. By using a tight process of Build-Measure-Learn (BLM), this group would empirically prove whether there was and demand for books among the chafe.

Eric and Scott are definitely leading the pack, but the pursuit of a flexible yet effective process has been the pursuit of every project manager since the beginning of information technology. To be clear, Eric never suggested that there exists a thing called lean publishing. He simply suggests using the lean start-up process to manage the production of content.

Tutorial as a Startup

So, I concluded that after receiving the green light for my tutorial "How to organize and fund free culture projects," I was going to apply the lean startup methodology to the creation of my class. In Eric's book he emphasizes that the time delta to complete a cycle of BLM is the most critical metric. So while I've been through two cycles, they are taking too long. Between now and July 16, I will increase my cycle times and hopefully with the participation of the crowd, give the best class possible.

Lean Publishing is a Misnomer

So far my experience with the lean startup process, is that lean publishing is a mistaken application of the lean prefix. If you accept Eric's premise that every publisher is now in the software business, then I must remind everyone that software companies produce software. We don't publish code. We produce it.

Publishing = Lean Production

I'm very comfortable with software process, I've studied and used most of the popular process models, including MSF, IBM Rational, and Extreme Programming. I must admit the biggest challenge for me is the testing aspect of the Lean Startup model. Translating requirements into assumptions, that I can simply implement A/B testing on my Web 2.0 platform. With the start of this post I'll be my next iteration, and implementing a call to action to my email database.

Two Calls to Action

Everything remaining the same, I must send half of my email database to one funnel page and the other half to another. One will be the default. The default will change as tests confirm or disprove assumptions. By changing just one thing, and focusing on which "call to action" generates more emotional reaction and willingness to act. By always following what most attracts attention, in Scott Blank's model I'll be iterating towards my customers. Methodically, empirically, you must turn unknowns into knowns.

Follow Me as I Explore Lean Production

I've got a ways to go on my tutorial. I'm doing well, but I could always be better. I'd especially like to invite anyone who is signed up already for my tutorial, thank you very much. I'm working hard to deliver a rich, full experience that lays the foundation for a clearer path forward for free content production. I've accumulated a lot of research, a lot of data.

One of the questions I have is just how much data do participants want to see? Would they like to just see the conclusions, and have the graphics as drill downs? That way, if the crowd seems interested, we can look at some graphs and discuss. I'm leaning towards a balance. I don't want to show every graph I've created, but some tell very interesting stories that help promote my narrative.

To learn more about the Financing Freedom project, please visit the project homepage. From the home page you can:

Attend the Open Source Conference

If you still haven't made your plans for OSCON, then please take advantage of this discount code. If I can get 5 attendees to sign-up for the conference using my special code, then I get to invite someone to attend the conference for free; as in beer. So please head over to the sign-up page and register. In the PROMO code field, enter SHOCKEY and let's work together to get someone into OSCON for free. What do you say?


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