As you may have noticed, we have a bit of a problem with Take Control, and he has a name: Joe Kissell. Don’t get me wrong, as problems go, Joe is about the best possible problem you could have. But as much as Joe is a dream writer from both the editor and publisher perspectives, there’s only one of him, and as good as he is, even he can do only so much.
From a business standpoint, then, we started thinking about how we could find more new authors to fill in when the rest of our stable of writers is otherwise unavailable. Honestly, it’s been hit and miss. Many people think they can write a book because they know a subject well, but the best of authorial intentions can run afoul of having too many irons in the fire to finish in a reasonable amount of time or not being sufficiently experienced with the kind of long-form, highly structured writing necessary for a book project.
So, with a push from our own Glenn Fleishman, who’s just a wee bit obsessed with the topic, we’re trying something new, something that we’ve talked about doing over the years but never brought to fruition — a crowdsourced book that would be written and edited not by just one or two people, but by lots of contributors. Wikipedia has shown that this sort of a model can work, and while we’re not proposing anything nearly as ambitious as Wikipedia, it seemed only fitting that the test title for this new approach be called “Take Control of Crowdsourcing.” Go ahead, click that link, but be prepared to do some writing!
After all, crowdsourcing is hot, hip, and largely misunderstood. What can be done? What should be done? How do you find a crowd? How do you get your crowd excited about doing your work for you? How do you fund your project? These and many more questions are what we’re hoping you — our crowd — will both ask and answer in “Take Control of Crowdsourcing.”
Rest assured that we’re not simply playing Tom Sawyer here. If this project is a success and we come out the far end with a real book that we can sell, we’ll donate all our profits to the Wikimedia Foundation to support Wikipedia and other crowdsourced projects.