Book writing pays about a nickel an hour, so other than inflating one’s resume in this modern attention economy, why bother? Anyway, here’s three non-fiction book ideas that should be written but won’t be written by me:
1. The Seedy Underbelly of the Internet: someone needs to get into the semi-sleazy, ethically challenged, weird world of spammers, hate bloggers, affiliate marketers, SEO whores, search toolbar installers, pay-per-posters, belly-fat miracle advertisers that buzz away on the edges of the noblest ambitions of the Interwebs. This is the desperate world of the grifters who exploit every technical advance and loophole from permalinks and trackbacks to page rank and SERP. They are work-at-homers, con men and women who produce garish content-marketing blogs, conduct seminars on how you too can make a stack of cash from Facebook and Twitter, whoring out your content link blog, and play the affiliate marketing game. They put pictures of girls with cleavage on their fake avatars, invite you to be their LinkedIn friend, then send you a message extolling their polystyrene packaging plant in South Korea. They scrape your blog posts and call them their own. They run automated spam bots that write semi-coherent comments on your blog. They pick epic flame battles with other scammers and revel in being hated. These are the true geniuses of precision marketing.
I get depressed just thinking about researching that one.
2. Conference Whore: if I were a rich man, and had nothing to do all day, I would spend my time attending a full year’s worth of conferences and idea-fests like Davos, Burning Man, Demo, TED, a Microsoft Sharepoint convention in New Orleans, SIGGRAPH, Le Web, Forrester Consumer Experience, DrupalCon, CES …… A life spent in airport lounges, business class, fancy golf resorts on the edge of San Diego, Palm Springs, Tahoe, a world of registration tables, name tags hung around the neck, keynotes, panel discussions, calls to raise my hand if I’ve ever …., breakout sessions, hashtags and live-tweeting, questions from the audience (please wait for the microphone), networking events, happy hours, breakfast buffets, bio breaks. This would amazingly depressing — a year on the road tracking the idea circuit, a perpetual junket in the weird alternate reality of the face-to-face event. To make it doubly depressing, combine Conference Whore with the Underbelly pitch and do nothing but attend sleazy marketing seminars on how to make a million buying domain names ….
The year of living at conferences would be very unhealthy, probably worth 25 pounds in ass fat and would probably lead to some sort of psychological warping.
(search for “conference badges” on Flickr. Tara Hunt is amazing)
3. Ziff Knew Weeds: The rise of the tech press in the 70s and 80s hasn’t been written, but should, before the original old guard passes away. The title comes from my ex-boss, the late Bill Ziff, who was a super smart eccentric polymath who legend had it would strike up bizarre conversations with his employees about roadside weeds (he was an accomplished amateur botanist) .
From the first newletters and enthusiast bibles, to breakthrough pieces like Stewart Brand in Rolling Stone, the battling empires of Pat McGovern and Bill Ziff for dominance of the PC industry through PC World vs. PC Magazine, PC Week vs InfoWorld, MacWorld vs. MacWeek, Computerworld, Computershopper, Release 1.0 ….. the power of the tech press, a blend of geeks and old newspaper hacks and the sleazy tactics they deployed from dumpster diving in Silicon Valley to read Apple’s trash to bribing teen-age printers apprentices in Iowa with t-shirts to cough up the first copies of IBM’s user manuals, partying with Bill Gates at Comdex, refereeing epic pissing matches between boy wonders who would go onto become the richest men in the world, snorting coke in the review lab on deadline night …. The tech press of Boston and Silicon Valley chronicled the wild birth of an industry that changed the world, until they were waylaid by the Internet and put out of work by a new crop of gossipping gadget bloggers.
Anyway – there’s three free book ideas for anyone with the patience and gumption to tackle them.
6 thoughts on “Three Books I’d Like to Write But Won’t”
hey Dumpster diving and tossing trash are both high art forms.
But damnit Dave there is a book on the tech Press, ouces said. Every aspect of it needs to be recorded; from: prank calls to a coworker’s phone on THursday daedlines made to force her to run bak to her cubicles for the pop-eyed amusement of cubicle prarie dogs, down to the quest for the mythical Holy Grail of the next IBM computer; gthe deluge of “Are you going to Comdex” phone calls; the LV HIlton PCW Newsroom antics, the paranoid editors; the overacheivers; the great piza dope raid, and on and on.
It’s the prfeect book for you and it can be self-[ublished on AMazon.
Oh don’t forget reporters who developed stories by asking leading questionsof sources who were feeding back what they had learned in previous phone calls.
Call it “bunching Boobs an Sources Said.”
1. the underbelly would be scary and weird..but who knows, you might meet a nigerian prince or two
2. The conference one is like supersize me for professionals
3. I would love this, and you are right…get to Uncle Pat and the rest of the crew, the CMP’s, ZD etc… lots and lots of great stories from the writers and the sellers…god knows I spent a few weeks at the Hotel Del during IDG gatherings hearing stories of the time at Comdex when Sully sent 3 ____ to Mike who then ____ the 3 and drank a gallon of____ and then went out the next morning and closed a 10million deal with Compaq before vomiting on his client on the cab ride to the OG
Underbelly would go well with some of the books on government and corporate abuses of the Net, such as Black Code. Show that shady behavior spans the full spectrum, from light grey to fully criminal, from taking money to taking lives and countries.
The conference book, of course, has to go in the swag bag for the featured conferences.
Speaking of idea fests, are you going to the Breathing Man fest in Cotuit on Saturday?
Breathing Man? Tell me more please.
Breathing Man is a take on burning man, where the element of air is substituted for fire. It is at the Cotuit Center for the arts on Sat at 6:30pm. It will be followed by a live multimedia performance of Pink Floyd’s full Dark Side of the Moon and Animals albums by the band 57 Heavy. I’m coming all the way up from the ghettos of Falmouth to see this.