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Agile Publishing Model.

Futurist David Houle

Welcome to the future!  The future of humanity and the future of publishing.

I am very excited about my new book Entering the Shift Age and the new model of publishing Sourcebooks has created, the Agile Publishing Model (APM). The APM is an innovative platform that allows authors to make their content available faster and in a more flexible format. For example, to suit your needs and interests as readers, Sourcebooks offers a variety of ways to purchase the content of Entering the Shift Age, either in individual parts (“mini eBooks”) or as a whole. (Check out “How to Purchase: The Agile Way”.) You can learn more about the APM by watching the video below.

This is part of the future of publishing. Now let’s turn toward our own future, the future of humanity.

We now live in the Shift Age, a time of transformation that will be regarded by future historians as one of the most significant periods in human history. The Shift Age is one of those inflection points or times when much of humanity will change how we live, how we think, how we interact with each other and what we do.


When the Industrial Age began brands took off. Mass production enabled large-scale production of goods and steam-powered transportation vastly increased the breadth and speed of distribution. This was when still existing brands such as Bass Ale in 1876 and Coca-Cola 1887 were trademarked and Quaker Oats was trademarked as the first breakfast cereal in 1895.

Brands really came into their own in the 20th century, particularly in America. This was when mass markets were created with the aforementioned media and mass production further drove down production costs, eliminating the local supplier. Brands became large and national and then later in the century, multi-national. Brands were institutional and had institutional authority. They were large, defined categories and were corporate. Ivory was 99% pure, Tide was the laundry detergent for the family. The Good Housekeeping seal of approval was a mark of authority and acceptance. This was particularly true when Television grew to dominance in the middle part of the century. Brands sponsored entire shows and then moved to the 30 second commercial, a model still largely in place today.

However, there is disruption that is clearly present with Brands as we enter the Shift Age.. This is due in large part because of the fragmentation of media over the last 30 years. It is much harder for a company to reach the full potential audience for its’ brand. In addition, with the advent of social media, the institutional power of Brands has been greatly diminished. We have moved from a 20th century America, and world, that was largely driven by institutional authority to one today that is often driven by personal authority, as in “I’ll ask my friends what they think first.” This ascendant power of networked friends who seek each others opinion greatly decreases the almost god like authority of brand marketers of several decades ago.

Through the past few years I have been working with Owen Shapiro a partner at Leo J. Shapiro & Associates, a well-respected market research firm. He has provided me with insights into how the ideas I first presented in “The Shift Age” – the Three Forces of the Shift Age primarily - have been manifested in consumer behavior, in the effect of personal technology now has on purchasing decisions and how much institutional authority has moved to personal authority.

Owen and Leo J. Shapiro & Associates recently developed and deployed a “brand engagement index” that ties in closely with the concepts presented in the first three parts of this book, particularly relative to the Flow to the Individual and Accelerating Electronic Connectedness. These two forces make engagement a key index of brand success and the ability to predict brand success. Simply put the top two brand index categories are “devoted” and “benefits” and the bottom two of the nine categories are “unconnected” and “frustrated”.

Think about these words. “Devoted” and “benefits” are highly personal in a positive way as is “frustrated” in a negative way. These three speak to the Flow to the Individual and the personalization of branding today. “Unconnected” of course is also personal but reflects what a negative that is as our connectedness accelerates. “Frustrated”, the lowest level of engagement is deadly when something else is always available 24/7 somewhere.


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