Writing a book online and facilitating a discussion around it seems to be very popular these days. McKenzie Wark is working on GAM3R 7H30RY which will be published by Harvard University Press in April 2007, and it will contain contributions from readers of his site. Readers are discussing and participating in the writing process and the networked book is born. The Institute for the Future of the Book is concerned with issues around “the book’s reinvention in a networked environment.”1
Lawrence Lessig’s new book Code Version 2.0 (a follow up on Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace) is partly written through a collaborative Wiki. Lessig actually makes a tribute to Wikipedia in his book by stating “to Wikipedia: the one surprise that teaches more than everything here.” McKenzie Wark’s book is only readable online but Lessig’s finished book is actually available as a download for free! Although I am still a big fan of the old fashioned book made of trees, I am also a huge fan of the networked book:
Unlike the printed book, the networked book is not bound by time or space. It is an evolving entity within an ecology of readers, authors and texts. Unlike the printed book, the networked book is never finished: it is always a work in progress.
As such, the Institute is deeply concerned with the surrounding forces that will shape the network environment and the conditions of culture: network neutrality, copyright and privacy. We believe that a free, neutral network, a progressive intellectual property system, and robust safeguards for privacy are essential conditions for an enlightened digital age.2
Both GAM3R 7H30RY and Code Version 2.0 have been licensed under a Creative Commons license (Code Version 2.0 with a more open license than GAM3R 7H30RY) making way for a new kind of book in the digital age.