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.

The Julie/Julia book

· Blogosphere, Book News, Salon Bloggers

Add The Julie Powell to the list (along with Salam Pax) of bloggers whose weblogs have landed them sweet book deals.
Congratulations to Julie for conceiving of her brilliant project and then – most importantly – executing it. So now, is the book going to just be a slightly edited rendition of the yearlong cooking project or is it some other kind of derivative work?

Radio silence at

· Book News, Weblog Concepts

Continued technical difficulties at the Dreamweaver Savvy website (problems with Radio, the CMS I’m currently driving new home page updates) have caused me to temporarily roll back the home page to the old, ugly design, so at least there will be something there for visitors.
Next I may have to manually ftp the new blog-based home page since the upstreaming is malfunctioning. Finally, I hope to get it back to automated again (or I’ll switch to a different blogging tool).

Fixing the Savvy homepage

· Book News

The last time the hackers came through they replaced a lot of the index pages of a lot of my sites. After we wiped my server and started over from scratch with a more robust security regime, I still had to replace the missing pages. Most of them were backed up on my production Mac on local sites already set up in Dreamweaver, so I just republished the pages for most of them.
For the blog-based homepages I usually just reposted the top link or otherwise refreshed the page. My MT blogs are back too (“start the presses!”), by the way. The problem was a matter of permissions on the mySQL database tables.
All this spring cleaning has given me some time to reflect on the organization of my sites and a chance to move a little more in the direction of unity and simplicity and away from the multiplicity of brands, blogs, sites, and half-baked projects I’ve spawned all off my little Linux box. One decision I made (finally!) was to merge the fireweaver blog with the Dreamweaver Savvy home page (which I never liked).
The first thing I did was just point the virtual host entry at the root, where the blog page was already the only thing going on. Right away, though, I started getting email from readers who, of course, could no longer find the book-specific links promised in the pages of the book, and instead could find only my vaguely web design-and-development related posts to RFB, anthologized as fireweaver.
So now I’ve gone and reopened the old source pages and tried to copy over the relevant items into the fireweaver home template in Radio. Posting this entry should refresh the page, enabling navigation to the other Dreamweaver Savvy site pages (sparse as they are, and still sporting that ugly old design too), access to errata and corrections, and links to the Yahoo! discussion group we have for the book.

UPDATE: Well, I got into a little problem with symbolic links there, and I was upstreaming to the old relative folder location, but I’ve worked those things out and fully specified the links so I’m reposting this to see if it does the trick.