1. Q: “Can I write on [topic X, Y, Z . . .]?”
A: The working title of the book is “You are (w)here: How knowledge is related to virtual and physical place.” If you think it fits under that title, then go for it.
2. Q: “What if I don’t want to write, or feel like I don’t have much to say on this theme?”
A: If writing is the issue, keep in mind that the book can include any form of expression. Do a photoessay on the theme. Compose/perform music that explores this. Shoot a video—you could even just document the working process in the Learning Commons itself. Any form of engagement with the theme is welcome.
Alternately, if the issue isn’t with format, but is just instead that you don’t think you’ve got much to contribute (written or otherwise), you’ve got a few options for starting points. First, on the project page (http://oduwritesabook.digitalodu.com/) you’ll see a “Topics” link, and a “Sparks” document. These are meant to help jump-start your thought on the theme, and should give you some ideas! Another possibility is to just head on in to the project itself (through the link under “Write Now!”) and look around. Do any of the topics grab your interest? Just jump in and start contributing to the work underway.
Still not motivated by the topics underway, and still not coming up with any of your own? You can still contribute to the project, if you like. Most chapters will probably benefit from some editing. Just dip in to any of the chapters underway, and see if you can help with helping to format and structure the chapter, with integrating the different parts into a coherent whole, or with adding useful discussion, examples, or even illustrations.
3. Q: “What if I’m worried about having my name attached to this thing that I’m not fully in control of? Do I have to be a listed author to contribute?”
A: We encourage you to write your name at the top of each chapter you contribute to, so you can be recognized an as author of this publication. If you don’t want to, though, you don’t have to. Keep in mind, though, that even though you won’t be listed as an author, your contributions will still be taking place through your username and odu.edu account, so there’s no way to contribute anonymously, even if you opt out of putting your name into the final product.
4. Q: “Can I re-use my writing here in one of my classes? Could I write something that’ll be part of a class assignment later and stick it in here as well?”
A: Yes, but you have to be careful about it. Anything you write in the Google Docs is subject to change and addition by anyone else, and without your permission! This is part of what’s exciting about the project, and part of the experiment of massively open simultaneous coauthorship. So, you can’t grab something from the book project later, for later use, because someone else’s work might have become part of it. If you might want to re-use some of your own writing later, it’s best to write it in chunks that you save to your own computer or drive, or send to yourself in an email, and then paste those chunks into the shared Google Doc as you complete them. That way, your writing is part of the grand experiment in collaboration—but, at the same time, you’ve got a copy of the work that was all your own, which you could re-use later. If you do re-use anything you’ve written, even if it’s entirely your own, you should let your professor know that it was also used as part of the book project—otherwise, if your professor sees it in the book project too, she might think that you just ripped it off from the book rather than having contributed it to the book yourself!
5. Q: “So, is this going to be a “book” or, like, a book? Like a real book that people can read and buy and stuff?”
A: Well, we’ll see! This is all a big experiment, and we’ll just have to find out what comes out of it. Assuming we’ve got an interesting collection of written and non-written material by the end of the 24 hours, we plan to lightly edit (to avoid copyright infringement, libel, or other potential legal issues) and then probably put the whole thing online, on the open web. If we’ve got enough interesting written work to support a traditional, printed book, we’d like to do that too! We have a publisher in mind who we think would like to publish your work, along with perhaps a few extra chapters describing and theorizing the event. If that works out, it would end up being a real, normal book, from a real publisher, that you (or anyone!) could buy from bookstores or from Amazon.