I learned about two different innovative approaches to book publishing the last few days that I thought were worth celebrating.
Crowdsourcing “The Wire”
The first relates to one of my favorite TV shows, “The Wire” (see previous post). “The Wire” has taken Great Britain by storm, oddly enough initially as a DVD box set, then later as the series was broadcast, several years after it debuted in the States.
The series is so popular and critically acclaimed that British publications like The Word and The Guardian have given it extensive coverage. The Guardian in fact has a dedicated “Wire” blog that helps readers navigate each episode as it airs.
And it’s the blog that is the source of a new book called “The Wire: Re-up” that The Guardian is publishing. The book will not only feature blog posts, but reader comments: “About half of the content is the words written by you readers,” The Guardian’s Steve Busfield announced today.
“The Wire” is so nuanced and full of layers that you want -- and need -- a crowd to help source the storylines. Kudos to The Guardian for recognizing that. I was unaware of the Guardian “Wire” blog but I’ll be ordering the book and can’t wait to read what my fellow fans have to teach me.
Riding the Wave
I’m a dedicated listener of “This Week in Google,” a tech-geek podcast on all things related to the cloud, and specifically Google.
As you might expect, the much-ballyhooed Google Wave has been a hot topic on the show, so much so it’s become a running joke. The Wave is more like a Ripple at this point, although I know its power will be upon us soon enough.
And that’s why core TWIG contributor Gina Trapani has co-authored a new “book” called “The Complete Guide to Google Wave.” I use the term “book” loosely because the guide is currently a wiki (using the MediaWiki software that’s at the foundation of Wikepedia). Trapani and co-author Adam Pash are inviting the crowd to share in the creation of the guide using traditional wiki editing tools.
But that’s just the start of the fun. The guide will be available both as a PDF (free of digital-rights management) and as well as a softcover print book, “with new editions to follow throughout 2010.” Those print versions will be updated with Twitter, email and web updates, all of which will be free. And the crowd will contribute throughout.
As Trapani said on this week’s TWIG, tech books are outdated as soon as they’re published so technical guides need to be fluid as software or products develop.
Trapani has a great reputation already as a founder of Lifehacker and her personal blog, Smarterware. But she smartly sees Wave as a way to position herself as an expert on a software tool that many believe will be the foundation of content creation for years to come. And she seems to grasp that to position herself as a Wave expert, she must first serve as a guide who inspires others into the possibilities. Trapani is refreshingly upfront about some of Wave’s shortcomings, expressing frustration and confusion with some features. That builds trust with me, that the “book” she produces will be honest, and not just a love letter to Google.
As with most things Google, the beta product is just the beginning of a long journey to parts unknown.