Off the eBook Shelf, Covering Wicked Problems, and a Walk in the Woods

Maybe you're thinking about publishing eBooks and wonder whether they're taking off at all and where they're selling the most.

Perhaps you're having a hard time telling regular problems that can be solved from wicked problems that are more challenging to define in an ever more complex world.

Or you find it hard to follow the practiced reasoning in someone's argument.


Off the eBook Shelf, Covering Wicked Problems, and a Walk in the Woods

The three stories that caught my eye this week will provide some clarity — if not around the answers to those open-ended statements in defining the questions with more clarity.


1As Frédéric Filloux states, eBooks are moving briskly off the shelf, in some countries faster than in others. India, Australia, the UK and the United States top the eBook market.

Which genres sell the most?

Fiction is doing twice better than all other categories together. The Digital Book is the medium of choice for fiction: a) eBooks are set to be cheaper that print and price elasticity is now a proven fact, the cheaper a book is, the more likely a reader is to try it; b) e-commerce breeds impulse buying (cf the famous “One-Click® feature); c) readers can test the product more efficiently than in the printed world as Amazon and the iBooks Store make larges sample available for free. No surprise, then, to see the Fiction category holding well.

A testimony to the value of a well-told story coming from a distinct point of view.


2Jay Rosen shares the script of his keynote address to the second UK conference of science journalists. In covering wicked problems, he first defines the term, then outlines ten ways to imagine how a wicked problem beat would work.

The highlights:

Any beat where the important knowledge is widely distributed should be imagined from the beginning as a network.

[…] Jumping back and forth from a global understanding that is constantly in revision to local solutions that are constantly being tested: this is a better way to go. Better than: gather information, outline the options, analyze cost, pick the best option, hire the experts, and implement. Agile development is learned behavior for coping with wicked problems.

[…] People become expert in their own systems for ignoring reality. Systems become expert in concealing from their operators wicked problems. That is something we can learn to report on.

As Rosen says, we don’t understand the problem until we’ve solved it. And you don't get everyone on the same page, no matter how hard you try.


3Control Risk CEO Richard Fenning invites us for a walk in the woods from where we might get a glimpse of problem diagnosis, something we've all gotten quite good at doing:

But on reflection it occurred to me: what happens if Greenspan was wrong? What happens if he has always been wrong? How do we know? And it struck me how vulnerable we are to the reputation of great experts like Alan Greenspan. Because most of us struggle to grasp the fiendish complexity of modern economics, we are too readily in awe of those that do or appear to do so. A bit like how we used to treat doctors before we all started diagnosing our ailments on the internet.

There are so many variables one can blame if things don't work out anyway.


Is complexity in need of solving, or are we in need of absolving ourselves from even trying so we can focus on a more concrete path of commerce?

Have a great weekend everyone.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.


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