Catching Up

It’s been a while since I’ve posted new content on this blog, for a couple of reasons. One, things have been busy in the category of “doing what I do for a living,” which doesn’t include writing this book. Two, I’ve been maintaining a state of neutral observance regarding the digital media’s coverage of the US election cycle. It’s inevitable that, at some point, I’ll need to address the whole Trump/Clinton/Sanders spectacle and the role that the Internet played in its outcome. God help me.

In September, I presented an abstract of my research thus far at an academic conference in Chicago. I usually don’t participate in such things, mostly because I tend to adhere to the philosophy that academic conferences are time-wasting echo chambers. However, I did feel as if I needed to pressure-test the book’s themes in front of an audience and gauge their response. The feedback was reasonably positive and constructive, with one recommendation that I more fully explore the role that misogyny plays in dictating online behavior. Although I’ve certainly touched upon this, I could do a better job of explicitly underscoring this attribute as a common thread in my narrative.

Presenting in front of a group is something I’d like to do more often in 2017. My last book, Digital Outcasts, certainly generated positive lift during my rigorous speaking schedule from 2009-2014. It’s not unlikely that I’ll be looking to expand public awareness around Pixel Pushers in the coming months.

Anyway, here’s what I can reveal with regard to progress on the book itself: one way or another, the first draft will be completed within the first half of 2017. I don’t yet have a publisher, but I’m working with an agent to field opportunities (including self-publication). My office worktable has six stacks of researched material, and each stack is several inches tall. The excavation has begun in earnest. I’ve also created a Twitter account for the book, which I suppose is what people do today.

Welcome to the Dark Side

In March of 2013, I submitted what would be the final camera-ready draft of my book Digital Outcasts. The book covered numerous case studies related to disability and technology, employing a tone I intended to be uplifting and instructional. It took me five years of research, two years of pitching to publishers, three months with a consultant to craft the proposal, three different acquisition editors, six months of writing, seven content reviewers, one editorial screening and three months of revisions.

Although a lot of people said (and wrote) very nice things about the book, the last thing on my mind was writing another one. When my publisher inquired about doing a revised edition, I let the question go unanswered. Writing books is hard work for smart people, let alone someone like me. I also had no shortage of doubts whether, given the unlikelihood of lightning striking twice, I could expect the outcome to be of sufficient quality.

Fast-forward two years, and I am now beginning the journey again. Only this time, my mission is to investigate the seedy unpleasantness of online behavior. It should come as no surprise that the anonymity of cyberspace can bring out the worst in people, with no evidence of shame, empathy or decorum for one’s fellow humans. I want to explore these weird modalities to better understand why and how these things happen, and to perhaps make sense of this emerging trend before any damage to our culture is cemented.

I invite you to join me on this path, but I can’t promise it won’t get messy.