I’m in publishing, but I’m watching the video game world closely.
There’s some really interesting stuff going on in that industry. Valve has innovated along multiple fronts. Amazon is a barbarian at the gate. Even the big players — Microsoft and Sony and Nintendo — are making moves like rookies with something to prove. It’s been an interesting couple of years in video games, and the next few years should be even more so.
I’m also watching the film and TV industries. Both are very different creatures, but share many of the same concerns and issues as the publishing world. By paying attention to what they do — fields that are both ahead and behind publishing in terms of problems they’re coping with and solutions they’ve innovated — I may be able to glean answers to the problems the publishing industry is struggling through. Or predict issues before they come issues. Or maybe even just bring back something really cool for people to enjoy.
Watching the periphery is not wasted time: it’s research. The hurdles are not exactly the same, the solutions are not transferable, and the people involved don’t necessarily understand professional complexities outside their immediate sphere of influence, but there’re still lessons to be learned. There’re still suppositions to be made and ‘what if’s to be posited.
Worst case scenario, I’m a little richer with knowledge about fields I may someday enter. Best case, I’m able to expand my current horizons by making use of the knowledge-cartography my fellow explorers have mapped, even though the cartographers come from different lands.