Blogging my book

· Book News

I can finally talk a little more about my current writing project, by far the most fascinating book I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. The working title is The Power of Many and it’s about – broadly speaking (my publisher doesn’t want me to be too specific yet) – people networks with digital connections and real-world effects.
The book comes out this summer. I’m about halfway through the first draft. I’ve been researching the subject and interviewing people simultaneously, doing the book wildly out of order, with all kinds of hyperjumps and things to be filled in later. It’s kind of crazy to write it this way, but it’s also exhilarating, and while in a way I wish I had two years to write, in another sense I’ve been working toward it for the last five or six years at least, so it’s more a mater of trying to float my observations to the surface.
I’m also studying the subject with an open mind. I’ve got hypotheses, but like a good scientist I expect them to be battered by the empirical data. My straw models are just there to get the conversation going in my mind, and to give my interview subjects something to focus on and respond to.
My publisher told me the other day that it’s OK to start mentioning the book in public as long as I don’t specify the publication month or give too many other details of the book, such as its outline, coverage, or the people I’m interviewing.
Of course, there’s a blog for the book. For one thing, it’s the only way I could keep track of all the referenes and links (and people). Also, once the book is ready for open promotion, we’ll unveil the book’s blog and website and use it to try to build some buzz. More importantly, since the book is inherently just a snapshot of the current state of the peopled Internet, filtered through my thinking and the insights of another 40 people who are much smarter than me, the blog will enable me to continue covering the subject after the book is out (much as Howard Rheingold has been doing with his Smart Mobs blog site).
It’s a juicy enough subject that I’d enjoy making it my beat for years to come. At the end of one interview a few weeks ago, I told the subject, “It was great to meet you, and I hope we can continue this conversation… for the rest of our lives.”
So, for now the blog is unfortunately password-protected (and obnoxiously sending out occasional trackbacks that can’t yet be backtracked) and its contents not yet made part of the public record for the book.
I can live with that, although I do have a sense that we shouldn’t worry too much about competition knowing what we’re doing any more than we mind looking at what else is out there as we inform ourselves about the ideas. That’s just part of my “openness” ethic, in which I think the value of secrets tends to be overestimated.
I suppose other publishers might be working on entrants into this area that we don’t know about, so of course I am going to defer to the publisher’s wishes.
By the way, I’m adapting this entry from a post at the book’s blog that was about the soft decloaking.
Here’s a similar story: Someone from East Bay for Dean didn’t like that my Oakland for Dean website had links to the local Kerry and Clark sites. I did this in the ethos of “does Macy’s recommend Gimbel’s?” – trusting the voter/customer to do their own analysis of the available information, and trusting them to come back to your site because of the content and message and dynamism there. I was told, however, that my site is a partisan site and linking to your opponent is “just not done.” So, I deferred to their wishes and removed those links.