Writing a Book on Remixing Information

Since the beginning of July, I’ve dropped my time at the university to
60% so that I can have two full days a week to write a book. I
originally set out to write on the subject matter of the class I taught
in the spring, “Mixing and Remixing Information.” That is, the book is
geared to teaching how to combine the varied sources of information on
the Web into a new and useful creation. After a couple of months of
sporadic hard labor, with a solid book outline in hand, I am currently
looking for a publisher. The conceptual framework for the book has held
up to the scrutiny of knowledgable reviewers. Finding a sufficient
market of buyers, on the other hand, remains a major hurdle. The book
in its current form is pitched at programmers and designers who enjoy
the process of creating programs and websites. In writing the book
proposal, I was already challenged to broaden my audience from hardcore
programmers to non-programmers who are nonetheless comfortable with the
Web. Now, I strive to reach a still wider audience. I can’t imagine
many of my friends’ reading the book as outlined, for instance. How can
I write a book that would captivate people such as my friends and
family who certainly use the Web but who don’t program? That’s the
question I’m now exploring.

On Reading More Fiction

I wish I were a more avid reader of novels and short fiction. When I
walk into bookstores, I gravitate towards the shelves of nonfiction
books, where I am able to dive into particular books and size them up
quickly for their content, style, and enjoyability. When I look at the
fiction section, I am lost. I’ve recently forced myself to take up
reading a novel or two. Some weeks ago, I borrowed Anansi Boys: A Novel
from the Berkeley Public Library. I forced myself through the first two
chapters but finally decided to return the book unfinished. I didn’t
have to finish what I had started, Laura reminded me. Two weeks ago,
while browsing the new books at my church library, I decided to borrow Gilead: A Novel. Reading about Marilynne Robinson’s book in The New York Review of Books
had made me receptive to picking the book up in the first place. At
about fifty pages into the novel, I’ve decided that I would like to
push towards the end. I can’t say that I’m excited about the book;
rather, I’ve grown mildly affectionate for the narrator and now want to
see how the story turns out. As I read more fiction, maybe I’ll turn
how to more quickly size up a work. So far, I have had to withhold my
judgement, giving myself over to the author more than I would usually
do for any work of nonfiction, just to decide whether to read the whole
book. Is this an issue of commitment?