I've been trying to crack one particular nut for the past year. How do I involve the crowd in my own book? This poses a bit of a predicament as I'm frankly a bit more skeptical about the crowd's ability to create a book than I am their ability to create code, T-Shirts or movies. While my subject matter may be squarely new school, I'm a bit of the old school in my writing habits. I write for a magazine, fer crissakes! That's published on dead trees! That is distributed by carbon-spewing trucks! As such, I've spent much of the year holed up in my afore-photographed florescent cave scribbling, scribbling, scribbling away. No more!
My publisher—Crown Books—has given me the official green light to excerpt some choice selections from my book for your critical review. The most salient, witty or astute remarks will be published as an appendix in the final chapter of the book. I was inspired, in part, by what Clive Thompson did in his Wiredmag piece on Radical Transparency last April. He blogged the article before it was published, and ran the best comments he received in the margins. I was pretty impressed—but hardly surprised—by the thoughtfulness of the comments. The resulting piece created more of a dialogue than the monologue in which magazine writers generally traffic. The fact is, the act of publishing to a large audience requires donning a cloak of authority that I, at least, rarely feel comfortable in. At Wired, we all do our very best to honestly and thoroughly convey the many facets, the many, many truths and perspectives, that make up even the most black-and-white seeming stories. But the mechanics of storytelling, and the exigencies of print publishing, require that we smooth the corners—reduce complexities and nuances. What Clive did, and what I hope to do as well, is bring those sharp corners, the paradoxes and contradictions and exceptions, back into the final product.
So have at it. I'll put up the First Installment early next week.