Blogging heroes?

Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog: Which Cover Do You Prefer?

At the link above, Joe Wikert of Wiley shows two alternatives of the cover of a book called Blogging Heroes, and asks his readers which they prefer. I didn’t like either. Well, the one with the man on it would have been OK if he’d had a better pair of knickers.

Do take a look. I think Joe needs some good advice if he wants the book to sell on the basis of its looks. He says it "features wisdom and wit from some of the world’s most successful bloggers, how they got to the top of the rankings and recommendations they have for the rest of us."

Interview with a Twitterer

So I learn from Bryan Appleyard — see Thought Experiments : The Blog: Twitter — that he isn’t a fan of Twitter (or Twittr as might have been a trendier name for the mini-blogette). That doesn’t surprise me. Bryan points to an interview with Twitter’s founder, Evan Williams, at Technology Review, to which I subscribe but had missed this article.

"Launched in March 2006, Twitter lets people broadcast short messages from computers and phones to anyone in the world. The idea has generated a fair amount of buzz, but while some people love the idea of a constant stream of updates, others are appalled. "

I still find it hard to gain access to Twitter and hence have never really got into it. From the little experience I have had, I can see that it is a great resource for one’s online circle of friends, if one has such a thing and if they are all the Twitter type. But although in principle I might like knowing what they might be up to at any given nanosecond, I would not be interested in knowing what everyone in the world is doing at the same frequency. Even if my day wasn’t full with my job, I don’t have the time or patience for the permanent distraction from a longer-term task, maybe something that would take a whole five minutes.

But the flip side is that I bet Twitter is great for people who are isolated and who have time to kill — it probably prevents a lot of nervous breakdowns. Hence I would not call it a "vision of hell", as does a certain person. I am definitely not an "instant messaging" kind of person, particularly when I do manage to log on and I see a message from the Twittermakers saying "what are you doing  to help with our climate crisis? Live Earth has great tips". In 140 words max, I presume.

Vanity Fair’s innovative Africa issue

Via a publishing industry press service, I learn that Vanity Fair (not a magazine I read) made singer/activist Bono the guest editor for its July issue. The result: New writers with new perspectives came out of the woodwork, showing how publishers can reach beyond their usual bounds.

The issue is focused on the continent of Africa: its people, its youth, its music, and its small, successful attempts at economic development. Bono is praised by the industry press service not so much for the content (though they like that) but because he turned "beyond the usual suspects" for the reporting and writing, including former Viacom CEO Tom Freston (writing about a Mali music adventure), artist Damien Hurst (writing about a Congolese artist) and novelist Binyavanga Wainaina (writing about her Kenyan generation’s downs and ups), among numerous others.

"When an article about Bono guest-editing this issue appeared in The New York Times, an unprecedented torrent of story ideas — sometimes dozens in a single day — poured in from photographers, writers, and non-governmental organizations," wrote Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter in an editor’s note. "Most of them were substantive and interesting."

According to the press service, all publishers and editors can learn from this modest experiment, which need not be limited to the Vanity Fair or celebrity editor market. Every community has its own "Africa," an area little covered, and it has many local Bonos, people with wide name recognition and strong networks of relationships. The local "Africas " may be communities poorly covered, from barrios to the working poor to immigrant groups to local education issues of many kinds. Such experiments don’t mean relinquishing editorial authority; they mean reaching out to new contributors and in the process many new potential readers, in print and online. One of the distinctive attributes of the Vanity Fair special issue is an online resource bank and interactive map. Nature does a lot of this kind of thing, one example being Declan Butler’s award-winning Google Earth-avian flu mashup, the first of its kind.