Writing a Book in Public

Yesterday I began a new blog site called Human Trafficking in Historical Perspective. This site is the online research and writing space I’m going to use for my next book project — a project still in its early days mode.

For a long time now I’ve been thinking about what happens when the entire scholarly process — or at least as much of it as possible — takes place in an open environment like a blog or a website. Certainly, I’m not the first person (or even close to the first) to do something like this. Dan Cohen just posted something in his blog on the same subject and he is much further along than I am on his project.

One wrinkle in what I’m doing on this project is that not only will my Zotero library be available for public consumption, but it is also a library that I’m building with students in the classes I have taught/am teaching/will teach on the subject of human trafficking. In this way I’m blending my own research efforts with theirs. How will that work? I’m really not sure, but it will be interesting to find out.

I’m also not sure if the final product of this work will be a book or something “book like.” In the book like category is everything from an eBook, to a website, to something that lives between those two. What that last something might be, I think we still don’t know. I suppose the project could just become a blog that is frozen in space and time with the comments turned off, or it could be something else we haven’t thought of yet. After all, like all good works of historical scholarship, this one is going to take a couple of years (at least) to complete. By the time I’m done, there is no telling what else we might have come up with as a means for displaying our work.

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