Hi. Welcome to my new book. Well, it’s not a book yet. In fact, it will not be a real book for a long time.
As you can tell from the title of this blog, the book will be about Google and all they ways that Google is shaking up the world. Google is a transformative and revolutionary company. I hesitate to use terms like that. We live in an era of hyperbole. So I try my best to discount claims of historical transformation or communicative revolutions.
But in the case of Google, I am confident it is both.
Now, I am approaching this book as both a fan and a critic. I am in awe of all that Google has done and all it hopes to do. I am also wary of its ambition and power.
As I use this site to compose the manuscript (an archaic word that I love too much to discard) for the book The Googlization of Everything, I hope to do so with your help.
This is the latest in a series of “open book” experiments hosted and guided by The Institute for the Future of the Book. The Institute has been supportive of my work for years – long before I became affiliated with it as a fellow and certainly long before we thought up this project together. As with the other projects by Ken Wark and Mitch Stephens, this one will depend on reader criticism and feedback to work right. So this is an appeal for help. If you know something about Google, hip me to it. If you have an observation about how it works or how it affects our lives, write to me about it.
On occasion, I will post an open question on this blog. Please help me answer it.
I have never tried to write a book this way. Few have. Writing has been a lonely, selfish pursuit for me so far. I tend to wall myself off from the world (and my loved ones) for days at a time in fits and spurts when I get into a writing groove. I don’t shave. I order pizza. I grumble. I ignore emails from my mother.
I tend to comb through and revise every sentence five or six times (although I am not sure that actually shows up in the quality of my prose). Only when I am sure that I have not embarrassed myself (or when the editor calls to threaten me with a canceled contract – whichever comes first) do I show anyone what I have written. Now, this is not an uncommon process. Closed composition is the default among writers. We go to great lengths to develop trusted networks of readers and other writers with whom we can workshop – or as I prefer to call it because it’s what the jazz musicians do, woodshed our work.
Well, I am going to do my best to woodshed in public. As I compose bits and pieces of work, I will post them here. They might be very brief bits. They might never make it into the manuscript. But they will be up here for you to rip up or smooth over.
That’s the thing. For a number of years now I have made my bones in the intellectual world trumpeting the virtues of openness and the values of connectivity. I was an early proponent of applying “open source” models to scholarship, journalism, and lots of other things.
And, more to the point: One of my key concerns with Google is that it is a black box. Something that means so much to us reveals so little of itself.
So I would be a hypocrite if I wrote this book any other way. This book will not be a black box.
Of course, it could get ugly in here. I could make tremendous mistakes. I could shoot something out there that shuts all doors at Google. I could undermine my ultimate market (but I seriously doubt that I could). I could just write myself into a corner.
In my next post I will share a rough chapter outline. And I will give some sense of the basic questions and major issues that I hope to tackle in this work.
Ok. As Sgt. Phil used to say, “Let’s roll. And let’s be careful out there.”