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Lessig Revises Book With Public Wiki 66

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the new-ways-to-weave-words dept.
Silent_E writes "Always wanted to see your words in print? The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that Lawrence Lessig is revising his book 'Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace' using a wiki-based, public discussion. The proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated. . All royalties are going to Creative Commons, plus the advance. "
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Lessig Revises Book With Public Wiki

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:33PM (#11969582) Homepage Journal

    Always wanted to see your words in print?

    Mine are, usually after "How do you plea?"
  • by caluml (551744) <{slashdot} {at} {spamgoeshere.calum.org}> on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:34PM (#11969602) Homepage
    I've always thought that writing a book collaboratively is an interesting idea. It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along.
    However, I always thought about a fictional book.
    • Lots of technical books are collaborations. That's why so many suck! It's hard to read when the writing style changes from chapter to chapter, ideas do not carry through the book as they should and writing skills vary dramatically.

      I much prefer a single author.
      • by kebes (861706) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:54PM (#11969792) Journal
        In practice I agree with you. However, that is because most collaborative books are self-contained chapters that some editor casually reads over and then glues together. The editor is, in fact, *not allowed* to make sweeping changes to the style of a particular chapter, since the author in question would legitimately get angry. Each author is given his own "right" to describe things as he sees fit.

        In a wiki project, the final editor can pick the version of each wiki article he likes best, and he can mercilessly modify and change the style so that it sounds good. If anyone doesn't like it, they can of course fork the book based on the version they liked better.

        The point is that the wiki style, by getting rid of this "ownership of the author" has the potential to make collaborative projects actually be better.

        In practice, of course, this requires quite a good editor... so we'll see how well it turns out.
    • > I've always thought that writing a book collaboratively is an interesting idea. It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along. However, I always thought about a fictional book.

      ...said the Slashdotter, as he posted feverishly to the message board upon reading the story about Lessig's Wiki.

      Yes, Lessig. The Lessig would come and save us all. Lessig, the Kwisatch Haderach of Copyright Law. Lessig, who'd written a cool book

      • Finally a reason to say Kwisatch Haderach! This is a perfect description of Lessig. Come to think of it, we really don't have any other compact term that describes the rare combination of vision, talent and selflessness Lessig demonstrates. --At least none that I can think of anyway.

        Good Call.

    • by IvyMike (178408) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:41PM (#11969660)
      It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along, purple monkey dishwasher.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I think you have a freaking best seller on your hand there.
        • It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along, purple monkey dishwasher.

          I think you have a freaking best seller on your hand there.


          He then sold his book and made millions only to purchase an Italian, lesbian monkey who would...
          Anyone care to finish?
      • "It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along, purple monkey dishwasher."

        I always preferred the "write a sentence, fold it over, pass it along" version.

        all the best,

        drew
    • Many movies are written that way: one person comes up with the concept and then there's a whole bunch of others working on things like dialogue and so on. Not too surprisingly, most (if not all) of these movies are quite dull and unimaginative.
    • It's just an extension of the childhood game where you write a word on a piece of paper, fold it over, and pass it along. - let's hope that when a book is written the next person to write actually unfolds that paper and reads the previous paragraph :)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is like the domino effect. If America gives up property ownership in some cases, then the rest of property ownership will fall. We know what this means ... Communism !!!

  • Slashdot does count as "print", doesn't it?
  • by hsmith (818216) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:40PM (#11969648)
    I can see the title of their chapter "Downloaders are dirty thieves."
  • by WaldoXX (803727) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:42PM (#11969686) Homepage
    Author's name should be revised to ..... Anonymous Coward
  • Hieraki (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tobias Luetke (707936) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @05:46PM (#11969717)

    Hieraki [hieraki.org] is a project which aims to create a wiki with pages hierarchically arranged instead of interlinked like on a traditional wiki. It uses the notion of Books, Chapters and Pages.

    Its the main means of documentation for the rubyonrails project and is used for writing documentation at several hosting services like textdrive and universities.

    Disclaimer: I'm the author.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:00PM (#11969848)
    Professor's online publishing experiment

    LESSIG INVITES HELP TO UPDATE 1999 BOOK

    By Michael Bazeley

    Mercury News

    Further nudging outward the boundaries of online publishing, Stanford University Professor Larry Lessig will put his 1999 book ``Code'' online today and invite Internet users to help him write an updated version.

    A noted copyright expert and proponent of free software, Lessig is putting the 297-page treatise about technology, culture and regulation on the Web in the form of a ``wiki,'' a site that can allow people to freely edit its contents. The law professor will take the contributions at http://codebook.jot/ [codebook.jot] .com and edit them into a printed version of the book.

    ``Code has become a part of cyberspace law culture,'' Lessig said. ``And what I found most interesting is that people outside of the academic world talk about it and use it a lot. I was really trying to find a way to encourage them to contribute to the evolution of `Code.' ''

    Lessig said he also wanted to use the process to better understand the concept of wikis.

    Lessig is the latest in a string of authors -- often from the technology world -- to open up their writings to the public. Former Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor published chapters of his book ``We the Media'' online as they were written and sought feedback. And East Bay author J.D. Lasica allowed online readers to edit chapters of his book ``Darknet: Remixing the Future of Movies, Music & Television.''

    Similarly, a project called Wikipedia has been building an online encyclopedia almost exclusively from contributions of users.

    Lessig's venture may be the most ambitious yet among book authors. Where feasible, he intends to use significant portions of reader contributions in the new edition. While he has not yet figured out how to handle authorship and credit contributors, Lessig intends to donate any book royalties to Creative Commons, a non-profit organization he founded to offer an alternative to traditional copyright licenses.

    Palo Alto start-up JotSpot is providing the wiki space for Lessig's project.

    Like Lessig, JotSpot founders Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer have an interest in consumer digital rights, dating back to their founding of the consumer-rights lobbying group Digitalconsumer.org in 2001.

    ``It was a nice alignment of the things I care about at a personal level,'' Kraus said. ``And it's an opportunity to showcase the technologies that JotSpot is developing.''
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:05PM (#11969875)
    Looks like they've only been sure about the version numbering in the toolbar on the right: "CODE v2"
    Everywhere else, with the strange notation of "Code v.2" it looks like this is about trying to write a work that will never make it out of beta, stalling at v0.2 ... (which would be a strange kind of follow-up to a highly successful v1.0)
  • Questionable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ganellon (782516) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:06PM (#11969886)
    While this may seem like a compelling idea, I suspect editors will be in much higher demand than contributors. I don't believe this is a successful strategy in producing a coherent volume, since paid authors have a hard enough time getting their works published. Accepting submissions from all comers, particularly those professing some "expertise" in the given subject, is bound to lead to massive quantities of unusable material.
    • Re:Questionable (Score:4, Insightful)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:25PM (#11970047) Homepage Journal
      Lessig is quite intelligent. He knows what he's doing is an experiment. He also knows we'll never really know if such a thing is a good idea until someone tries it. While some technical documentation is written this way a book such as his probably has not.

      Also, with a wiki a few good editors could go through what's entered and edit as desired. I'm sure Lessig will have no problems finding an editor or two to help.

      You're quite possibly right, but I hope you're wrong.
      • Re:Questionable (Score:1, Flamebait)

        by DogDude (805747)
        Lessig, is, quite honestly, a media whore. It seems like he has a new stunt every week, most of which are relatively useless (like this), except that he gets more time in the limelight.

        If anything, he should write a book "How to be a Media Whore and Profit From It". That's a book I'd buy.
        • Re:Questionable (Score:3, Insightful)

          by truthsearch (249536)
          You obviously haven't read any of his books or articles on his background. He gets more and more media attention as he finds more and more things going wrong with the legal system. His "stunts" draw direct attention to real problems. His contributions have helped software developers more than any other lawyer I can think of. Before most people knew his name he was helping convict Microsoft of illegal activities. He's also the first to really explain the problems in the legal system as relating to compu
    • Re:Questionable (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KhaZ (160984)
      I agree with you somewhat, but in true Slashdot fashion, none of us monkeys can agree with each other completely... What fun would that be? One comment max, on every post!

      Anyhow, ideally a wiki should have every contributor be both contributing AND editting.

      But in theory, nobody will, they'll just throw their points together like the Portland Pattern Repository (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki [c2.com]) and have everything looking like crap.

      Sigh, too bad. Although I'd love to be proved wrong!
  • I wrote a letter to the editor of Science Fiction Age magazine in 1993. Not only was it printed, it closed a long running debate about the contents of the magazine. I had gotten tired of reading letters complaining about the one 'fantasy' story in a 'science fiction' mag, and the supporting letters were annoying too. One month, three of the four letters printed were on this topic. So I wrote in and told the guys at the magazine to just make a decision, tell us readers what it was, and stick to it. They woul
  • by theGreater (596196) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @06:18PM (#11969993) Homepage
    Shouldn't that be, "Public revises book with Lawrence Lessig" or better yet, "Lawrence Lessig Invites Public to Edit Book."

    The way they write headlines around here, you'd think Public is some fancy new ncurses based word processor :D

    -theGreater Downmodded.
  • by Eloquence (144160) on Thursday March 17, 2005 @07:09PM (#11970387) Homepage
    Given that Larry Lessig is on the board of the Free Software Foundation, it is a bit strange that he uses a wiki engine which is proprietary, even though free (and, in many ways, superior) alternatives such as MediaWiki [sourceforge.net] (the engine used by Wikipedia) are readily available.
  • "The proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated. . All royalties are going to Creative Commons, plus the advance."

    How about making that "The advance and all proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to Creative Commons."?

    Yeah its a nit pick, but I'm in that kind of mood. (Now watch while some smartass, finds something wrong with my post).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The web is often viewed as a great information source (especially since finding informations got easier via *working* search engines).

    But it could be even FAR better, more correct, more complete, better interlinked, if publishing was easier, more collaborative and on a higher level than html.

    This is exactly what a public wiki does so easily.
    The main problem currently is, that about 95% of the web users still don't know wiki at all - it could make so much things so much more productive!

    It is a building bl
  • by rikb (191168)
    ok, so there is lots to say about authoring by a single individual vs. wiki-mediated hordes (and i suppose James Michener's enterprise falls somewhere in between?:).

    but what does the slashDot crowd make of Lessig's ARGUMENTS in Code, about code? what should CodeV2 make sure to address? are you going to weigh in?
  • Wikibooks (Score:2, Informative)

    by danila (69889)
    There is actually an entire wiki [wikibooks.org] dedicated to collaborative writing of books already.

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