Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s Blogging Book – A Case of Open Source Book Writing?

Written by Alun John

Alun founded Marketing Tom and delivers some of its courses.

January 27, 2006

Over the past week Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book Naked Conversations has hit the bookshelves and they have been busy at book signings and the like across the States. According to the publishers:

“If you ignore the blogosphere… you won’t know what people are saying about you,” they write. “You can’t learn from them, and they won’t come to see you as a sincere human who cares about your business and its reputation.” To bolster their argument, Scoble and Israel have assembled an enormous amount of information about blogging: from history and theory to comparisons among countries and industries. They also lay out the dos and don’ts of the medium and include extensive statistics, dozens of case studies and several interviews with famous bloggers. They consider the darker aspects of blogging as well—including the possibility of getting fired by an unsympathetic employer.

What’s different about this book is that much of it has been out in the public domain for quite some time, in draft format. Robert and Shel have allowed drafts of each chapter of the book to be posted on their weblog – Red Couch Naked Conversations – and then allowed people to add their own comments. They have invited people to submit their own case studies and observations:

Of all the things we need from bloggers are examples of how companies have been helped or hurt by blogs.

The weblog first came into life in December, 2004, when Shel Israel pronounced:

Welcome to our book blog. This is where Shel Israel and Robert Scoble will create a book. Really. An entire book will be done interactively right in front of you and WITH you. So, subscribe to the RSS feed here. Welcome.

The final chapter was posted on the 14th August, 2005 and it went into print a short time after the pair even aired their thoughts on the selection of the publisher online.

Though not an Open Source project in its purest sense, of allowing the public to completely write the book, it still has many elements of co-creation. And why shouldn’t a book about blogging have some important input from bloggers through a blog. The truly wonderful thing about the blog is that it has developed a devoted following over the past year, many of whom are well regarded in their own fields – PR, search engine optimisation, advertisng, blogging – and who are acting as unpaid evangelists for the book. Throw in the thousands of ‘ordinary folk’ out there who will each influence their smaller circles and you have quite a powerful marketing campaign, run on a miniscule budget. Absolutely, brilliant.

The other interesting thing to note is that even though many thousands of people have read the book online, the same thousands of people will BUY the book online and offline.

I look forward to seeing how Shel Israel and Robert Scoble develop the blog once the book launches and parties have died down. I also look forward to seeing my book arrive from Amazon UK!

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  1. shel israel

    Thanks so much for your very kind review of our book. I just wanted to note that if you pre-rdered the book and have not yet received it, chances are very high that you are among the people that Amazon cancelled out and you will have to re-order. I’m sorry about that.

  2. alun john

    Thanks for the advice Shel. I am thinking of checking it after the 3rd February as that is the date that Amazon UK promisd to send it out to me


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