“When the things got for real, I got up in the fold /
and put into practice all that I was told.”
– “The Inkwell”, Blue Scholars
Things are getting pretty freakin’ real right about now, that’s for sure. I just got a book deal. Yeah. Really. A book. Like you know, one of those things that’s printed on dead trees and sits in libraries and stuff. Maybe you’ve heard of ’em? I’m going to have an entry in the Library of Congress! Holy guacamole, I’ve never been more overwhelmed and excited at the same time!
So yeah, a book. The tentative title (likely to change, I’m open to suggestions) is Planet Internet: The Liberating Effects of a Wired World. It will examine how the Internet has played itself out in different countries around the globe, particularly in Senegal, Iran, Estonia and South Korea. Each of these countries has an incredible story to tell as to how the Internet has affected their socities and has been influenced by a handful of individuals.
You might remember that I started this project back at Columbia and went to Estonia for a week in March 2005. This was the seed of what became a full-fledged book proposal and sample chapter, focusing on Veljo Haamer of WiFi.ee. That proposal stayed tucked away in my hard drive, and I sent it to a few random agents, hoping to get something. None bit, until Sam Freedman directed me to Rutgers University Press, whom I’m honored to say will be publishing my book. The book is due out sometime in 2009. Jeez, that’s like after the next president will be elected.
So as a result, I’m going to be stepping back my role at Engadget from Senior Associate Editor to Contributing Editor, which means that I’ll be working part-time, most likely when I’m not out and about in the world. I will continue to freelance for other publications as much as possible.
My tentative plan as of now is to go to Senegal for three weeks (followed by a shorter trip to Europe) in January (9th until February 14th), then spend the next two months at home in Oakland, followed by about 3-4 weeks in Korea, two months home, then 3-4 weeks in Estonia and Europe, two months home and then about a month in Iran in October 2007. The manuscript is due in July 2008, although I’m shooting to have it done sooner than that.
I can’t believe that I’m actually embarking on this. On the one hand I feel very excited and have had loads of encouragement from my colleague, family and friends. On the other hand, I feel overcharged with such a huge project. The maximum length of this book is 90,000 words (for you non-journos out there, that’s 360 double-spaced typed pages) — by contrast the longest piece of journalism that I’ve ever done was my Master’s thesis, which came in at just under 5,000 words.
This project is literally 15 times larger in every conceiveable way than what I’ve done before. I feel like I’ve taken step one and two in doing narrative journalism (I took Sam‘s class and wrote the proposal), but now I’m being asked to take on step 10. I don’t know that there’s any other way around it, other than to dive right in, but it’s freakin’ scary nonetheless. But I know that I’m up to the task.
So here’s what I’m asking from you, my friends. In the immediate term, I’d love to know anything that you know about getting research grants, as I’m in dire need of some. Also, if you’re feeling particularly generous about helping me with my research, I’m passing my digital hat around via my PayPal account. Honestly, any small amount would really really help me a bunch. Yes, international travel is expensive, but one night’s lodgings in Senegal will cost me under $10. Anything that you feel is appropriate will be rewarded with my cooking you dinner at my house in Oakland, if you’re in town. (Also, if you have any contacts in any of these countries [mainly South Korea, Iran, and Senegal] who might be useful for me to talk to and/or might let me stay with them, please do let me know.)
But by far, the easiest way to contribute to my research is to help me find links pertaining to the Internet in those four countries. So I’ve set up a del.icio.us account to help the cause. Any link that you want to send me, just tag as “for:planetinternet” — I’ve got a big list already going.
Thanks guys — I know that I can’t do this project without you.
2007 is going to be a hell of a year.