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Michael Zimbalist, who runs R&D at The New York Times Co., told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco yesterday that the rise of social networks has spearheaded a very real shift from “the paradigm of publishing to the paradigm of communicating.”

“The consumer is squarely at the center,” said Zimbalist, noting that there are now more global users of social networks than even e-mail. “Time spent using e-mail has completely flattened out.”

The new paradigm has led to a change in overall behavior, with users now active creators of content. “Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube,” he said. Mobile is also integrated into everything.

The implications for the publishing and software industries are that they have to plan for multipurpose devices and services and incredibly rapid innovation. “We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of evolution,” said Zimbalist. Many things are coming up, and some don’t make it.

Features that have been seized upon include search with voice, location, image recognition, multi-touch, augmented reality and “gestural navigation” such as Wii game devices. To stay abreast, it is critical that publishers and software producers work to sync everything at all times.

Regarding the iPad, Zimbalist took note of an audience member’s disappointment with The New York Times’ initial iPad app, which is just a “best of” product (I like it, actually). A new premium version will come out soon. Addressing rumors that it will be priced as much as $360 a year, Zimbalist only joked that users will “definitely pay more” than they do for The Wall Street Journal’s iPad app.

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