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Flash publishing: the press shots for Barefoot into Cyberspace

With the official launch of her book Barefoot into Cyberspace only a few weeks away, Becky Hogge and I thought it time to get some press shots done in readiness – all part of our Flash Publishing efforts.

We spent a Saturday morning clicking, posing and taking lots of shots, both outdoors and in. I’d warned Becky a day or so before that we might need to take over 70 shots, if not more, to get what we wanted and have enough variety to choose from. In the end I probably took nearer to 120, deleting some as we went along. The next stage was selecting that down to about 60, from which Becky then chose six.

These six are now available here to download and use under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Book publishing in a flash

Publishing a book can take nine to twelve months, by which time the book you’ve slaved over can seem out-dated. Enter Flash-Publishing.

As some of you know, I’ve been working with friend Becky Hogge on publishing her book Barefoot into Cyberspace. It’s been a really interesting experience with plenty of things to ponder over and consider.

One of our main challenges has been speed. The book is ‘an inside account of radical hacker culture and the forces that shape it, told in the year WikiLeaks took subversive geek politics into the mainstream’. The ‘year’ part in that sentence is what’s crucial. The year in question is December 2009 to December 2010. The book is about pertinent, timely stuff. Whilst it has a long shelf life, it also has material that you want out in the public domain as soon as possible, so that it can inform the existing debate. This is not unusual for books of a more journalistic nature.

As Becky is decided to write the book off her own bat, rather than first getting a publishing deal, it’s means that even with an enthusiastic and supportive publisher the book would not come out until next year: 2012. By that time many things could have changed, particularly as the book deals with hacker culture, which as we’ve witnessed recently with Anonymous, Lulzsec and their off-shoots hacking into everything from Sony and the CIA to the Brazilian Government and Eve Online.

Shifting sand
LulzsecIn the last month Lulzsec have been described as terrorists by a victim of their lulz:

Terrorists have no compassion for the collateral damage done to victims who aren’t the target of their ire. LulzSec expressed this emphatically by encouraging people to inflict as much damage as possible on those logins and passwords.

And if this video is anything to go by Anonymous may even have decided to enter politics with the creation of TheAnonParty (HT).

These changes and shifts in the sand mean that understanding the underlying hacker culture is increasingly important, and makes 2012 look even more distant.

What to do?
Flash publishing, that’s what.

Three weeks ago Becky finished her book. On the 28 July she’s having it’s launch party. That’s six weeks, not six, nine or twelve months.

Over on her blog Becky describes what’s been involved and who. We’ve been doing some of the preparation in parallel. The conversations and plans over marketing began a few months before the book was finished, but even so, this is a fast turn around. As Becky describes, it’s been possible through a team effort but significantly through the online tools now available. As Becky writes:

‘Thanks to platforms like Lulu, (our chosen supplier) Lightning Source, and the Amazon Kindle store, the entire process can be set up for less than a half-decent meal out.’

Testing the iPhone WordPress app

Writing this from my iPhone to test out what is possible using the WordPress app.

The application takes you through step-by-step setting up posting, allowing you to post from multiple blogs via one username. Once through to the admin area you have three tabs – Comments, Post and Pages.

Using the Post page to add and edit a post you are taken through the title, tags, categories post status (local draft, publish, draft etc.) and then there is a large area for writing. In many ways this layout and process is much easier to use than the browser interface.

To add media such as the photos above or video, users need to save the post and then select the media tab. Once again the interface is easy to use for anyone familiar with photo applications. (By the way to take a screen-shot on the iPhone press the main centre function button at the same time as the top ‘off’ button.)

The only downside with the Post tool is that you will need to know some HTML to make text bold, italic or add links as there are no appearance functions. Even if you are familiar with HTML this is rather tedious, as you have to flick between the third and first keyboards to find the correct keys and write the code.

Would I use this application again? Quite possibly. I can see it useful for drafting posts when an idea strikes whilst on the move or not near a computer. I can also see it would be useful for quick posts and pics when at an event or outside, particularly places where there is a 3G connection but not wifi or where there’s no room to get out the laptop.

And now to press Publish and see if this has all worked.