A Sneak Peek at Chicago Tools of Change with Bill Wikert

Publisher Bill Wikert of O’Reilly Media has his eye on Chicago. “It’s a very diverse city with more publishing professionals than it gets credit for,” he says. For the past 6 years, O’Reilly has hosted the Tools of Change conference in New York City, which works to foster innovation in publishing and technology. Chicago is slated to host a smaller version of the event—a “MiniTOC”—this spring. “MiniTOC Chicago will be our third regional event (following Portland and Austin) and the location was selected because of the great mix of smaller and university presses,” said Wikert. “It also doesn’t hurt that plenty of people in the publishing community call Chicago home, even if the company they work for isn’t headquartered there. The more we researched MiniTOC locations the more Chicago kept floating toward the top of the list.”

Tools of Change has worked over the last eight months to establish year-round e-content and create multimedia resources that can be accessed anywhere. The group hopes to inspire advances in publishing technology on both a national and a local level. “We typically have to offer broader content coverage in our larger events,” explains Wikert. “The Mini’s let us focus on the needs of smaller presses as well as the local community.”

The one-day regional conference will be held on April 9, 2012 from 9am-5pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. Its organizers promise an exciting mix of panels, projects, and technical Q&As with field experts. Emphasis will be placed on attendees and presenters engaging in a shared conversation, using panels as a launching point for further collaboration and discussion. “MiniTOC Chicago is an opportunity for this community to come together and learn from each other,” Wikert said. By lending a regional focus to the traditional TOC format, Mini TOC Chicago organizers hope to showcase the vibrancy of the Midwest’s publishing and tech scenes.

Early registration for the conference ends April 2, 2012, with standard registration continuing for as long as space is available. Attendance will be capped at 250, in order to promote a small, intimate setting and casual discussion. Those interested in participating should register through O’Reilly’s TOC Chicago site.