Groundswell author on blogging a book

· Teamwork, The Power of Many

Back when I wrote The Power of Many I blogged about blogging a book in progress and since then I’ve noticed a number of other authors blogging about the same subject. (Contrast this with William Gibson’s decision to stop his blogging when he started his next book.)
Now it looks like Forrester analyst Charlene Li and her collaborator are using a full suite of “living web” tools to write their book, Groundswell (why does that name sound familiar?): Groundswell (Incorporating Charlene Li’s Blog): 7 ways the Web makes writing a book better & faster:
> 1. Collaboration with a wiki. Charlene and I have put as much as we can into a SocialText wiki. It’s contains research interviews, title ideas, the latest table of contents, the elements of the proposal that got us here, everything. I just added a page which tracks all the chapters as they move through various writing, editing, and review stages. We don’t generally use the Wiki to write the chapters — the drafts still move back and forth by email, partly since SocialText can’t quite handle all the formatting flexibility that MS Word can — but copies of the chapters do live there. A bicoastal collaboration needs a wiki. We also share it with other interested parties including my boss, Charlene’s boss, and our editor at HBS Press.
> 2. This blog for testing ideas. I can’t count the ways that a blog helps. When we think we have a good idea, it goes up here. For example, the five goals of a company for social computing, which became the core of the book. We put our outline up here for your review. That post became extremely useful, because I reference it in every email I send to people I’m trying to influence or interview. People doing interesting things contact us because of the blog. And I’m not even getting to the uses of the blog for promotion, which will start after the book is written, but well before it’s published.
> 3. for gathering research documents. Every story, vendor, YouTube video, and anything else on the Web gets tossed into the bucket. I rarely used to bookmark things — now I bookmark everything. These sites are even classified with our own proprietary set of tags that indicate what chapter they relate to. (We’ll share this when the book is closer to done — right now it’s proprietary.) I don’t believe we could have written this book without
> 4. Email for everything — but highly personalized. Every single contact in this book — and there will be hundreds and hundreds — will have been made by email. I’m sure you’re not surprised that I email Charlene 10 times a day and do a few IM conversations, but I’m talking about making introductions by email. If I need to introduce myself to somebody, I send a personalized email describing the book in one sentence, linking to the blog post about the book, and telling them what I want and making it clear I have researched them and know what they are about — and I frequently get a response the same day. This email might take 15 minutes to write, but it’s worth it — it’s the opposite of mass emailings, highly personal and personalized. (I recently invited a CEO to speak at our Forum in October and got an affirmative response within two hours — astounding our events team.) Where do I get the email addresses? Forrester has a database that may or may not help. Easier is finding the PR email address on a company’s site. Often somebody I know, knows it. Sometimes I use Zoominfo’s PowerSearch. And sometimes, if I know the email address of somebody else at the company, I guess based on that format. That actually works — recently got the CEO of an Italian company to get back to me that way.

At first I had big spreadsheets full of contacts I was pursuing on Google docs but I’ve found a better way. I just flag all incoming and outcoming mail that relates to contacts. The yellow flag means I’ve pinged somebody and need them to get back to me. Then I just check all those flags when I’m in followup mode. It’s not ACT, but it works for me!
> 5. A big monitor in a quiet office. When I am ensconced in my home office with my high-speed Internet, VOIP phone line, home network, and big flat monitor, I am highly productive. The big monitor has made a big difference — I no longer feel cramped and squeezed by my laptop screen, and I frequently have one thing up on the laptop (like a Web site, or edits I need to address, or an interview) while I write on the big monitor. When I’m not at home, my productivity goes down. My home office, while it’s in the basement, also has a window out onto my lawn, a fireplace, a hardwood floor, big whiteboards filled with the stuff I’m working on and my kids’ artwork, and quick access to the kitchen and my family when I need to decompress. Makes all the hours possible.
> 6. A phone line that follows me anywhere. Forrester has an Avaya phone system with a cool little feature — an Internet app I can run on my laptop that turns any phone into my office phone. At my home office, I can call Japan using Forrester’s phone system, conference people together, transfer them to other Forrester extensions — everything I can do at my desk. And if I go anywhere else, I can do this with any phone line — my mobile, Forrester’s Foster City office, or my parents’ house. People see my caller ID as if I were calling from Forrester, and my voicemail is one click away. I find this far better than giving everyone my mobile phone number.
> 7. Firefox and Netvibes. I use Firefox for everything possible, because the tabbed browsing and the bookmarklets make it very efficient for me. I cannot survive without tabbed browsing since I am typically browsing 4 or 8 things at once to build a chapter. (I know IE has tabbed browsing now but it’s too late, I’m happy with Firefox.) I use Netvibes to track a surprisingly small number of blogs including Micropersuasion, The Church Of The Customer, The Long Tail, Blog Maverick, and Seth Godin. I also have up TechCrunch, GigaOm, TechMeme, and TechDirt, but they post so frequently that I don’t read them unless something catches my eye.
(via allaboutgeorge)

Podcast of my SXSW panel now live

· conventionology, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience

If you missed Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Privacy, and Reputation last March at South By here’s your chance to hear me, Ted Nadeau, Kaliya Hamlin, Mary Hodder, and George Kelly take on these topics, very early one Sunday morning after an untimely daylight savings change and, for many people, a night of carousing and drinking free drinks sponsored by startups and web behemoths.

Lessons from failure at Boxes & Arrows

· Information Architecture, Teamwork, User Experience

I am curating a series of articles at the venerable information architecture (and user experience) web magazine Boxes and Arrows, based on the panel I moderated on the same topic at this year’s IA Summit.
The first article in the series is Joe Lamantia’s It Seemed Like the Thing to Do at the Time: The Power of State Mind. Joe looks at the big picture, literally, comparing business failure ot catastrophic societal failure, using the Easter Island culture as a case study (as well as his own experience with a startup).
I’m really glad to see this article published because we had limited time on the panel and I wanted to hear more of Joe’s thoughts about these scenarios.
Fascinating stuff and more to come.

Technorati launches new design

· Searching and Finding, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience, Web Gossip

Looks like Technorati has reconfigured itself to be less blog-centric and to take a more multimedia look at what they call over there the Live Web (Technorati Weblog: Come check out the refreshed!):
> First, we’ve eliminated search silos on Technorati. In the past, you had to know the difference between keyword search, tag search and blog directory search in order to make use of the full power of our site. No more. Starting today, we now provide you a simplified experience. Simply indicate what’s of interest to you and we’ll assemble the freshest, hottest, most current social media from across the Live Web – Blogs, posts, photos, videos, podcasts, events, and more.
> We’ve also worked really hard at making our user interface simpler, and more intuitive. We’ve been spending months doing user testing, and listening to you, our users, collecting and prioritizing what you wanted, what you liked, and what you hated about Technorati. We haven’t gotten it 100% right yet, and we’re going to keep working hard to improve, but I think we’ve made a big step forward with this launch.
> …
> With this launch, we also provide you with more context around more stuff like videos, music, and blogs. Over time, these pages will become richer and more comprehensive as we add more information about the thing itself, like where it was published, who links to it, what other things are similarly tagged, and more.

Answering danah's twitter questions

· Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience, Web Services

In reply to apophenia: Twitter questions (curiosity is killing me…):
> **First, the practical question. Can i quote you?**
>[ ] Yes, and you *must* use my real name.
>[ ] Yes, but please use a pseudonym and don’t use any identifying information.
>[ ] No, please just use this for your own weird thoughts.
> Hmm, those options have an excluded middle. I’d say “Yes, feel free, and you may use my real name, my online handle(s), or whatever other descriptor you find useful.” If I have to pick one I guess I’d pick the first one.
> **1. Why do you use Twitter? What do you like/dislike about it?**
> I use it to jot down my thoughts and narrate my day and to keep up with what some of my (online) friends are doing and thinking about. I like the ambient intimacy, to quote Leisa Reichelt.
> **2. Who do you think is reading your Tweets? Is this the audience you want? Why/why not? Tell me anything you think of relating to the audience for your Tweets.**
> I think my followers are reading them. Is that a trick question? It’s a perfectly OK audience for me, since it’s opt in. There are people, like close friend and family whom I’d like to also read them (if they were willing of course), but there is no invite feature.
> **3. How do you read others’ Tweets? Do you read all of them? Who do you read/not read and why? Do you know them all?**
> I read them sometimes via twitterific, sometimes from the Twitter website, sometimes receiving them as text messages. I don’t always read all of them but I do tend to read down till I reach familiar territory, much like the way I catch up on a blog I haven’t read in a while. (Having said that, I *scan* – I don’t read everything carefully.)
> I read people whom I’ve met and a few whom I find interesting or appealing. So I don’t know them all but I think I know (meaning have met in person) 90% of them. I don’t expect any of them to reciprocate necessarily. That is, it doesn’t bother me if they are not interested in following my thoughts.
> **4. What content do you think is appropriate for a Tweet? What is inappropriate? Have you ever found yourself wanting to Tweet and then deciding against it? Why?**
> I haven’t thought about it too much. I go by instinct. I guess some descriptions of graphic bodily functions might not necessarily feel appropriate to me, at times. Beyond that I think it’s fair game and the character limit kind of helps.
> I have thought about tweeting something and then decided not to, usually because I think it’s too random or trivial, because I’ve ceased to find it amusing in the first few seconds since thinking of it, or because I’ve posted a bunch of tweets lately and don’t want to be spamming people.
> **5. Are your Tweets public? Why/why not? How do you feel about people you don’t know coming across them? What about people you do know?**
> My tweets are public. I like doing things in public and don’t mind people paying attention. Therefore (back to the appropriateness thing) I probably won’t be tweeting about things that are illegal or offensive or humiliating (unless I can’t resist because it’s so entertaining or revealing). I don’t mind people coming across what I write. I expect it’s all out there and people will see it and even form opinions about me based on it. It’s all good.
> **6. What do i need to know about why Twitter is/is not working for you or your friends?**
> I can’t get the IM interface working and I would find it useful during the workday. There are many people I’d enjoy sharing with on Twitter who are not on the system but I can’t be sure they’d like it (so many people don’t) so I don’t feel comfortable evangelizing.