Ignite has a new home

Brady Forrest's new public benefit corporation will nurture Ignite.

Brady Forrest at Ignite Sebastopol.

Brady Forrest at Ignite Sebastopol.

Ignite, the worldwide network of geek events that promise to “Enlighten us, but make it quick,” is now under the aegis of Ignite Talks PBC.

Brady Forrest, who started Ignite back in 2006 with Bre Pettis, has launched this new public benefit corporation to grow and nurture Ignite, a move that makes all of us at O’Reilly very happy. It’s time for Ignite to leave the O’Reilly fold, and we’re certain it will thrive on its own.

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Rethinking and redesigning at beta.oreilly.com

O’Reilly’s new beta site puts the focus on learning and ideas.

Screenshot from beta.oreilly.com

Some while back, we realized that O’Reilly is really in the education business — very specifically, the self-education and self-improvement business. People read our books, come to our events, and watch our videos because they need new skills and have the discipline and initiative to seek them out on their own. In a lot of ways, the history of the company has been searching out new ways to achieve the same goal, which 15 years ago I articulated as “changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators.”

That goal requires us to notice the ideas and technologies that are new and important; to find the people who have figured out how to make the most of those technologies; and of the people who’ve figured it out, to discover who has the willingness and the ability to invest in helping others to follow in their footsteps. Over time, pursuit of our goal has also required us to learn how to write, edit, publish, and distribute books; to run events that bring people together to learn from each other; and (more recently), to develop video training courses and other online learning products.

We aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed that O’Reilly is a learning company. I was delighted to see oreilly.com chosen as the #1 online course provider, ahead of MOOCs, video training companies, and others who explicitly position themselves as training providers. I like to think that the breadth of ways that we give people to learn — print, video, in-person, and interactive online — is unique because it doesn’t restrict itself to people who have one single learning style.

All of this is by way of explaining the redesign that we’re rolling out at beta.oreilly.com. Over the years, we’d let oreilly.com become mostly a front end for ecommerce, selling access to books and videos and conference seats, with a dose of reporting and advocacy on the side. Read more…

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Safari for Schools: Free O’Reilly material for K-12

Safari is offering O’Reilly books and videos for free to every K-12 student and teacher in the U.S.

This past February, Tim O’Reilly brought me into an email thread with the White House with a straightforward but urgent request — could Safari provide the delivery mechanism to make all of O’Reilly Media’s titles available to every K–12 student in America? Commitments to the President’s “ConnectED” program were lined up from a number of software, hardware, and networking companies, but connected devices would be much more useful with content included. We’re proud that we were able to say yes to something so important — and on such short notice.

It made sense for Safari to deliver on O’Reilly’s commitment, as our business is providing online access to thousands of the best books and training courses to companies and organizations of all sizes. But as we started unpacking the particulars, we uncovered more complexity than we expected. For example, there are tens of thousands of school districts across the country, each with their own IT infrastructure. It simply wouldn’t scale if providing access to every student also meant working directly with every school or district. Compliance with a set of regulations designed to protect children’s privacy (known as COPPA) meant that we couldn’t simply open up our standard platform to students.

Constraints can be wonderful in focusing attention, and fortunately the outstanding team at Safari was up for the challenge. By September 1, we had quietly opened up a beta site where any high school student could apply for access to the full collection of O’Reilly books and videos.

In conjunction with today’s White House event promoting “Future Ready Schools,” I’m thrilled to say that we have delivered on the pledge to make the full catalog of O’Reilly books and videos available for free to any K–12 student in America, more than a month ahead of our original January 2015 promise.

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O’Reilly purchases Pearson’s stake in Safari

Safari Books Online is now a wholly owned subsidiary of O’Reilly Media.

I’m pleased to share some exciting news. On Friday, August 1st, O’Reilly purchased Pearson Education’s 50% ownership share of our Safari Books Online joint venture, and Safari is now a wholly owned subsidiary of O’Reilly Media, Inc.

O’Reilly believes strongly in the direction Safari is heading, and we came to believe that there are substantial opportunities for both organizations working much more closely together. O’Reilly is primarily a media company (books, events, online in-person and video training, expert network), and Safari has the technology, sales, and distribution channel for bringing content to the widest audience possible, especially a B2B audience.

Going forward, O’Reilly and Safari will work together to create new features and products, but Safari will continue to operate as an independent entity, as it did when jointly owned by O’Reilly and Pearson. There are no changes in Safari’s products, staffing, offices, or operations. The Safari brand and domains remain the same, and Pearson will remain a key strategic content partner of Safari. All their current materials remain available, and their future books and videos will be added to the service. Read more…

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Radar gets a refresh

Radar is rolling out a new editorial approach and a responsive design.

Today we’re excited to roll out a number of important updates that refine Radar’s content and freshen up the site’s design.

A new approach

The most notable change is also the least obvious.

In the months ahead, Radar’s editorial mission will evolve through our exploration of new topics and new techniques. Of particular note is our theme structure, which helps us interpret important ideas and developments and, in turn, share how we believe they’ll affect you and your world. You’ll soon see insightful posts from all of our content leads that put our best thinking into these essential areas.

There’s also things you won’t find here at Radar. Generic tech news and flavor-of-the-moment coverage don’t have a place, nor are we interested in bombast or drive-by attention.

What we’re really looking to do is create and nurture a dialogue; a true give-and-take that challenges our assumptions and shapes our perspectives. To pull that off we need your help. So consider this an open invitation to take us to task and point us in new directions. Read more…

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Self-directed learning, and O’Reilly’s role in the ConnectED program

I wanted to provide a bit of perspective on the donation, announced on Wednesday by the White House, of a Safari Books Online subscription providing access to O’Reilly Media books, videos, and other educational content to every high school in the country.

First off, this came up very suddenly, with a request from the White House that reached me only on Monday, as the White House and Department of Education were gearing up to Wednesday’s announcement about broadband and iPads in schools.  I had a followup conversation with David Edelman, a young staffer who taught himself programming by reading O’Reilly books when in middle school, and launched a web development firm while in high school.  He made the case that connectivity alone, without content, wasn’t all it could be. And he thought of his own experience, and he thought of us.

So we began brainstorming if there were any way we could donate a library of O’Reilly ebooks to every high school in the country. Fortunately, there may be a relatively easy way for us to do that, via Safari Books Online, the subscription service we launched in 2000 in partnership with the Pearson Technology Group. Safari already offers access to corporations and colleges in addition to individuals, so we should be able to work out some kind of special library as part of this offering. Read more…

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