Monday, June 9, 2008

The SA Blook - in retrospect

A week has passed since the SA blook went live and it sure has been a fun ride.

Thanks to everyone that supported the idea. The main references I've seen out there are:

I also want to thank Andy for posting about the blook on Techleader [and also on mygenius], and Mandy, who wrote a quick biography of the various authors just prior to the launch.

In considering how it's turned out, there are two distinct aspects I want to look at:

The topic of the blook and content of the various chapters

This topic proved to be a popular one, although at the time I distributed it to the authors I never would have dreamed we would be publishing this just after all the furore around the xenophobic attacks. Some of the authors even changed their chapters late to refer to what happened.

I believe this is a highly relevant topic, and that we only scratched the surface. Henre also alluded to this in his very interesting synopsis, and perhaps there is room to expand on this topic from here.

However, it seems that the chapters came together really well - especially considering that none of the authors saw any of the other posts before theirs were published [other than my introduction a few days before going live]. With this in mind, wouldn't you agree that there was an amazing amount of consistency to the content? [This might sound crazy, but it was part of the experiment].

The experiment, namely publishing an online book on blogs with a number of different authors

Some of the important things that I learned through this:

  • Everything takes longer to do than you think it will. Everything. Take your estimate and multiply by four to get closer to the real time involved.
  • Plan for the worst [have a backup plan]. On go-live day I encountered laptop troubles [my screen gave in so I had to use another computer]; Blogger went down for quite a while; one of the authors was away in Durban and was offline; a few other authors were difficult to track down; and a myriad of other business and personal matters arose rather suddenly that day.
  • Don't think the worst of people when they don't respond - apparently quite a few of my mails regarding the project ended up in spam folders... darn gmail. So I had to resend. and resend. and resend. [nobody's fault, just causes communication problems and delays]
  • No matter how well you [I] think you [I] write, there are many people out there who write way better than you [I] do. C'est la vie, so get over it.
  • An average idea put into action is waaaay better than a brilliant idea that you sit on.
  • Never make decisions for others or be afraid to ask people to be involved. All of the writers that took part are way better writers than I am, but they were willing to take part anyway.
  • Bloggers are very willing to support other bloggers, as proven by the above fact and the links referred to at the top of this post. [I saw this post on Problogger shortly after contacting the various authors. A good read for those interested in blog projects]
  • Venturing into the unknown is a wild, fun ride... and probably even more so online where information moves [almost] at the speed of thought.

One thing I also want to comment on is the mention of this being SA's first online book. I'm not sure if that's true [although I hope it is], but interestingly, Tertia Albertyn probably published SA's first real blook - and got nominated for a Lulu Blooker prize in the process. I don't know if she won, but that is a brilliant achievement regardless.

Now that I've said all this, the most important point - your thoughts and comments.

Please take a minute to leave your thoughts about these questions:

  1. What do you think of the blook's content [each of the chapters] and did it mean something to you?
  2. Do you think the blook as a concept/experiment worked, and what would you change to make it better?
  3. Is this blook something that others should read [ie people that don't frequent blogs or social media sites]? If so, how would you suggest it would best be distributed to be relevant and effective?

Thanks for joining us on this exhilirating ride. It's been a blast! Please check back as we try to take the blook to South Africa, and hopefully shine a light on the amazing opportunities that await us.

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