Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Please Help Make My Book Incredible

Dear Museum 2.0 readers,

I'm almost done with the first draft of The Participatory Museum: A Practical Guide, a book that explores the theory, practice, and design techniques for involving visitors and community members in the creation and sharing of cultural content. Many of you have offered encouragement and great ideas through the writing process on the development wiki for the book and in the blog posts that are excerpted from the draft. Now I'm reaching out again to all of you to ask for your explicit help.

I am currently writing the first draft of the final chapter of the book, after which I will begin editing and reworking the text. By the end of October, I expect to have a rough edit completed, and that's where you come in. I am looking for assistance with editing, content review, artwork, and formatting. If you are interested in helping in any way, please fill out this form.

Specifically, there are five fun and exciting ways to help with this effort:
  • Want to spend a little time but don't want to make a big commitment? Go to the wiki, read a bit, and add your comments and suggestions for improvement.
  • Want to help substantively with the content of the book? Consider filling out this form and signing up as a technical reviewer (more on this below).
  • Have great illustration or layout skills to share? Doodle on this form and share some of your work.
  • Are you a crack recreational copy-editor? Offer your help and I will sing your well-punctuated praises!
  • Are you not ready to help now, but interested in marketing/evangelizing the book when it is available? Sign up now, and I'll contact you in the new year.
Technical Review? What am I getting myself into?

Technical review is not an easy task. Technical reviewers are folks who commit to read the whole draft in November, add lots of comments, questions, and exclamation points, and generally help me improve the content. I expect this to take about 2.5x the amount of time it would take you to just read the draft (which is about 400 pages if it was a typical paperback size).

I'm looking for people who are current, previous, or aspiring practitioners of audience engagement in museums, libraries, zoos, parks, alternative education facilities, and cultural institutions. I'm interested in reviewers from a diversity of institutional types and sizes, and ideally, a diversity of perspectives on the value and utility of participatory projects. I want skeptics and dreamers, freelance hipsters and company lifers. I will select a small group of technical reviewers based mostly on diversity of backgrounds and approaches. You don't have to be someone I know personally to do this, but you do have to explain who you are and why you want to help.

Technical reviewers will receive a copy of the draft manuscript (digital or physical, your choice) to mark up by November 1. I am not focusing on copy-editing at this time, though I won't complain if you want to litter the text with punctuation red marks. Reviewers will be expected to read and critique the entire draft and return their markup to me by December 15 (the earlier, the better). We may have asynchronous dialogue throughout November if you want to engage with me on a particular point or question. I will integrate your comments, redevelop the content, and generally move forward based on your recommendations.

I know this is a big ask, and you should not feel obligated to sign up. In fact, I hope you will only sign up if you feel you have the genuine interest and time to do a full review (or do whatever it is you are offering). Thank you so much for your continued support.

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