At this year's ASI conference, Jan Wright, Pilar Wyman, and Dave Ream reported on the progress of the Digital Trends Task Force over the past year. A complete list of task force members is on the DTTF page on the ASI website, along with an extensive collection of references and links.
During the past year significant progress has been made increasing awareness of the importance of a quality index in digital content. Members of the task force have presented at several major publishing conferences and gained a lot of attention for indexing. At the Tools of Change conference in New York, Pilar Wyman’s presentation became one of the top trending topics on Twitter!
Dave Ream reported that the EPUB 3.0 standard for indexing has been written in record time and has been submitted for review for final inclusion in the upcoming EPUB standard release. EPUB is an open source standard that is followed by most e-book publishers to allow for quality display and functionality of their digital products. The indexing standard that the DTTF created will allow for a fully-linked, interactive index for navigation in the digital environment. The EPUB standards team has done presentations with all of the ASI chapters. If you missed that, be sure to check out the resources on the DTTF page on the ASI website.
Jan Wright’s persistence in promoting improved indexing capabilities was rewarded with a face-to-face meeting with the engineers at Adobe. She cautioned that software changes take time but the meeting was very productive and better tools will be coming one day. In the meantime, she has created a software workaround for indexes in InDesign. Those of you who work in InDesign can contact her directly to get details on how to create unique IDs at the paragraph level to create active indexes.
Pilar Wyman encouraged all of us to become advocates for indexing, not only of books and journals, but to speak in terms of content in all its forms. Some key terms indexers should begin to use are:
Monetization—access to content does in fact lead to sales and that gets publishers attention.
Discovery—in the overload of information on the Internet, being “findable” is key. Using indexes for search helps users find specific products, which leads to sales.
Search the index first—when producing digital products, the index can be placed as the first “page,” it will be searched first and it will provide the most useful entries into the content.
Metadata—we should think of the index as a metadata set for a given product. The DTTF is currently trying to get the index as a field in the ONIX for Books standard, which provides searchable information on books and publications. This will increase findability. . . which leads to sales.
The final speaker in this session was Corey Pressman of Exprima Media, a producer of digital products. He is a big fan of indexes as a solution to the problem of findability in the abundance of information that is available today. He encourages indexers to remember that we are at the beginning of these dramatic changes and instead of being anxious, we should be excited about the opportunities that creates for people with our skill set. I recommend reading his blog post on the importance of indexes.
All in all the session was an uplifting, optimistic look at the future of indexing. I encourage you all to review the DTTF page on the ASI website. There is much to learn about our new horizons.