He’ll be our key speaker at BookMachine London, on September 25th, so we wanted to find a little bit more about what he has been up to.
1) Hopefully this is your first official interview after your recent appointment as development director of Made in Me. What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
It is my first official interview – and speaking engagement – since I joined Made in Me! I want to build a new kind of publishing company, a new kind of media company that becomes as synonymous with quality kids content as CBeebies or Ladybird and Puffin.
2) At Made in Me you develop digital products for children. Do you think that we are preparing the next generation for a paperless future?
Yes and no. The digital games and reading experiences we’re creating for kids will hopefully be a blueprint for standard formats of the future. But we are about brand over format. We have physical book and toy ambitions for some of the IPs we’re developing and representing – as well as TV and digital platforms. We think more about how the physical and digital work together, rather than any individual product in isolation of everything else.
Remember all the talk about ‘the paperless office’? That hasn’t happened. Traditional ways of enjoying stories beautifully engineered pop-up books are only more valuable now.
3) It is clear that collaboration is crucial to the development of digital products. How do you make it happen?
It’s about relationships, I suppose. I’ve been lucky enough to work at some world-renowned companies like Penguin and Disney, which opened a lot of doors. I enjoy working with people in other media industries. Colleagues in TV and gaming and museums have slightly different ways of approaching storytelling and kids content. I learn loads from collaborations.
Plus, kids have always wanted their favourite stories delivered in as many ways as possible, so a collaborative approach to brands focusing strategically on format is critical.
4) Metadata appear to be crucial to the visibility of any product on the Internet. Do you think that content providers are starting to change their workflows to think about SEO and metadata at the outset of the development process?
Hmmm. Everyone talks about it – and everyone wants to affect SEO. But … I’m more wary of people who say they have all the answers than people who say they’re trying.
5) According to this article Futurebook blog, a study had revealed that, on average, only 9% of organisations recover from incorporating digital activities into their workflows and suggested the creation of separate digital departments. What do you think?
Good question! If by digital department, you mean a centralised start-up to focus innovation, than yes, I think the creation of semi-autonomous entities within a large organisation is the best way. Ideas can die if they’re measured against existing, legacy systems and checks. I think this goes more for product development than say … everyday functions.
6) Now let’s talk about important things. How do you get along with Miton the cookie jar?
We’ve not yet been formally introduced … (Note to ed. This is a lie!)