TOC: Interview with Bruce Chizen

Sarah O'Keefe / ConferencesLeave a Comment

Tim O’Reilly interviews Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe.

What is the “Adobe story” of the future?

Recall that “user-generated content” in the 1980s when desktop publishing started was quite ugly. Today feels like a repeat of the “democratization of publishing.”

The volume of people who want to publish and the platforms they want to publish on have gone up.

The need for immediacy has been a changing factor. A professional publisher could plan months or years in advance. No more.

True user-generation content and collaboration is new.

What about the convergence of print and online?

There will be a point where print will go away. Probably when devices imitate paper. Between now and then — could be 5, 10, or 15 years — people want to put printed content on the web as quickly as possible and as efficiency as possible. They want to incorporate web features into printed content. The electronic version of the New York Times incorporates video.

What about the difficulty of linking to a page in a PDF?

Wow, didn’t see that knife sliding in! No answer from Chizen. Back to convergence.

Could take printed document and make a truly interactive edition. More plugs for Digital Editions and Adobe Integrated Runtime (formerly code-named Apollo). He just called Ajax a “traditional tool.” (There’s a lot not being said here.)

Want to do with AIR what they did with desktop publishing for print. Browsers not good enough for certain types of content, and they want to provide something richer. Get rid of browser chrome, browser layout. Allows for sophisticated typography, graphics, animation, especially in this era.

O’Reilly: Creates document-based, stand-alone, web applications.

Chizen: Can work online or offline, high fidelity and richness of PDF/Flash. Do not force you to change which tools you are working with today.

O’Reilly: What about the concept of live documents that are authoritative?

Chizen: Have DRM around document, LiveCycle Policy Server. (which is VERY expensive) Rights can travel with the document. Ability to revoke documents (example: pharmaceutical industry). Can “recall” the document.

O’Reilly: Provides a focus for DRM that is functional by allowing for authoritative sources, revokation, and the like.

Chizen: Now applying this same technology to publishers. Can use this technology for digital books.

He expects this to be controversial. (um, duh)

O’Reilly just called Adobe the “arms provider” to the content industry because of the DRM technology.

Adobe’s entire business is intellectual property. At least one-third of products are stolen. Chizen wants to decided whether or not to give away the IP. Therefore, DRM is legitimate for people who want to protect their IP.

Flex has been open sourced.

Decision depends on objective. But it was Adobe’s decision, not the pirates. PDF is now out of Adobe’s control as an ISO standard.

Photobucket has software based on Premiere that is free to customers of Photobucket.

Question from the audience about privacy concerns. “Privacy versus desire of publisher to know what you are looking at.”

Let the user know exactly what the author intends to do with the document and the information around that document. Before you open a protected file, you can decline. If you want to look at the information, you agree to conditions set by that content provider.

What about the old documents?

Will old PDFs be viewable? Yes.

If you create a PDF, you can lock it down or make content extractable. The question is, who owns the content? If the author locked it down, you’ll have to print/scan and re-created.

What about e-book formats?

Digital Editions will read PDFs. The challenge is that PDF is not reflowable, which is challenging in different screen sizes. Page fidelity good, no reflow not so good. Digital Editions also supports XML. InDesign CS3 already supports ePub format; you can export to Digital Editions format.

Will device manufacturers support this?

Sony has announced support for Digital Editions.

What about cell phones?

More sophisticated phones will support this.

What about the iPhone?

Much hemming and hawing.

Web, other than HTML, is basically PDF and Flash. Assume that all devices will eventually display these formats. Already happening in Japan, where cell phones are much farther along.

Authoring rich compound documents requires lots of applications.

We think there’s an opportunity there.

Any announcement?


Any solution would be host-based. Premiere Express already available. Working on Photoshop Express. Creating compelling, rich Internet sites is an opportunity. Some will use professional tools, but casual users need something easier.

Will all content types become as unreliable as photos because of Photoshop?

This will separate professional publishers from casual users, user-generated content.

Wikipedia lets you see every edit.

Version Cue does this for professional tools. Would like to take that technology for users, but without violating user’s privacy.

Goes back to story about currency flagging, which caused massive negative feedback for Adobe.

Single-user versus multiuser authoring?

Named authors have more credibility. Adobe will do this provided that the users have an option.

One piece of advice for publisher?

Experiment. Be flexible with your business models. People will pay for content in different ways. Print will eventually go away. As you create content, create it so that you can reuse in an efficient manner. Otherwise, the cost of repurposing will go up.

AIR will be cross-platform. Create once, and it’ll run on all platforms. Think about this, or there will be too many platforms.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe


Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

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