Collaborative Futures

Write this Book

The greatest irony of the collaboration that produced the 1st edition of Collaborative Futures was its partial failure to incorporate collaborators beyond the core group that spent a week in Berlin working face to face. As recounted in the 1st edition's epilogue chapters <> written by collaborators in Berlin who did not start with the core group did not “fit” (with the valuable exception of their recounting of not fitting!) and a walk-in collaborator could not be accommodated. It proved impossible to open up the real-time collaboration to potential remote collaborators. However, some additional collaborators in Berlin helped with copy editing and one chapter was contemporaneously written by a friend (Bossewitch) of one of the core collaborators (Zer-Aviv), shepherded by that collaborator.

The 2nd edition sprint mandated increased temporally and geographically distributed collaboration as it was built on the 1st edition and was structured as a face to face sprint in New York with remote contributors from the 1st edition. However, no drop-in contributions were realized. 

 Thus, herewith are some possible practices for future sprint teams and others, whether coordinated with sprints or as the book is discovered and someone is inspired to make a substantial contribution. These practices aren't gospel; they hopefully aren't mostly wrong and are definitely subject to revision.  

For new collaborators, any venue, any time

Read the previous edition. This is the best way to ensure your work will complement the existing text—whether your work is to be complimentary, critical, or expanding.

For all collaborators, any venue, any time

If you're not sure how to contribute and perhaps not sure who to ask what is needed, here are some valuable activities that require little coordination: 

  • Copy-edit existing text
  • Annotate existing text, e.g., by adding references where needed or by finding images that illustrate the text  
  • Write a completely new chapter; actual and speculative case studies in particular can be independent, but having read the book, can be tied to existing themes

Whether you have a clear idea for your contribution or not, keep good collaboration practices in mind (if you notice that an important practice isn't discussed in the book, there's your chapter to write). Assume good faith. 

Sprinters, with additional ideas for multi-location sprinters

Possibly the most challenging part of the 1st sprint was the start, in which the core group, starting with two words, decided what to write about and generally mind-melded. The necessary success here (it is easy to imagine failure) probably contributed to the difficulty of adding collaborators.

Imagine an nth edition with sprints in São Paulo and Nairobi aim to substantially restructure the book or pursue a divergent theme—as opposed to diving into the valuable but low-coordination work mentioned above—it would be good for the two teams to agree in broad strokes to the path forward and be able to communicate that path to each other—and to remote collaborators. Some ideas:

  • Discuss direction of the sprint prior to the sprint days. The first sprint did no pre-work in part to prove a point—a non-manual could be successfully written in a week starting from only a two word theme. There is no reason for subsequent sprints or other forms of contribution to avoid pre-work, excepting lack of time.
  • There will be a few (to many if Nairobi sprinters work late) hours of overlap each day between the São Paulo and Nairobi sprints. On the first day, it may be useful for all sprinters to give a few minute self-introduction—this was valuable for information and rapport gained in the first sprint. Throughout, it may prove valuable to have voice, preferably enhanced with video, communication on-tap for higher bandwidth cross-sprint discussion.
  • When a team finishes for an evening, they should leave brief notes about changes and discoveries made, for maximum continuity during periods in which only one team is working.

Remote sprinters

Remote sprinters may wish to stick with the low-coordination contributions listed above—success along these lines would be extremely valuable. If the face-to-face teams are establish super communications, a side effect could be increased ability of remote collaborators to contribute even where higher coordination is required.

For ongoing collaboration

Communication among collaborators beyond the Booki editor is potentially key in the scenarios above, perhaps even more so for ongoing collaboration. Some mechanisms:

  • If you want to take the book in an entirely new direction, you may do so under the terms of the book's CC BY-SA license. You could fork on, on your own instance of Booki, or by importing into a technical environment of your choosing. It would be nice to tell us about your fork or your consideration of one, but you don't have to; we’ll find out when you link to the existing book’s web page, per the attribution term of CC BY-SA!

Source materials

Good luck!