Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unconference - various people

Unconference The Book - before reviewing the book, let me inform you what the authors had in mind when starting this book.
This book is a collaborative project. It aims to pick the best minds around the word from people who have helped organize unconferences or attended one. It's a book entirely authored on a wiki.
The typo in that sentence is not mine, the sentence is taken from the unconference website.

As with a book authored by many, the writing quality is uneven. Some chapters are informative, some are mere cut and paste jobs. The end result is a pastiche that makes you wonder what was the idea behind the project. The book informs us about unconferences, how, when and where they originated, what are its salient features and such. It goes on to elaborate upon how to organize an unconference and what are the various types of unconferences. One pet grouse of mine was that Vodkathon, the vodka unconference pioneered by myself and Prabhu wasn't mentioned anywhere.

In short it is a manual on unconferences. That makes you wonder why so much brohouha was created over this project. Manuals are written all the while for all sorts of things. Manimegalai Prasuram has a cottage industry of How To books in Tamil- how to learn cooking in 30 days, how to speak chinese in 30 days and more such topics of enduring value.

This book would have been more useful if it had been published as a website, where people can regularly check whenever they have doubts like the difference between a barcamp and a blog camp. To write a book about a topic that is dynamic and changing by the minute seems like an exercise in futility.

For a book touted to have cost around Rs. 4 lacs to publish, the quality of printing and proof reading leaves a lot to be desired. 8 out of 10 authors are from India, and that robs the book of the much proclaimed "authored collaboratively by people worldwide".

At the end of the book, you are still left wondering what is the difference between an unconference and a lions club meeting, other than the profile of the participants.

P.S. The book hasn't been released as planned on 8th Sep 2007, but that doesn't stop me from writing a review on what the book would be. After all the intent is important, not facts.

P.P.S. The progress page says that the book will now be released by 17th November. May be the authors will do a great job that will make this review look silly. But I can have fun, can't I?


Anonymous said...


anantha said...

unakku poramai! ;)

krishnan said...

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present Mr. Chenthilnathan with a Masters Degree in straight faced sarcasm. :)

PS: Prepare yourself for a handful of comments from Kiruba followers. :)

Ravages/CC said...

Yeah, unakku/ungalukku poramai only.
4 lakhs, hey? Hmmm... I hope it was money well spent.

Anonymous said...

I want to just read what Kiruba wrote. what does somebody who admires scum like Howard Roark know about co-operation?

You once wrote about kiruba's legend, and now this. How can you see yourself in the mirror daily? Don't you feel bad about yourself even for a second?