free html hit counter Wanted: Write Hand | John Battelle's Search Blog

Wanted: Write Hand

By - July 07, 2011

GeorgeHarding.jpegI’m looking for someone with whom to work on my next book project, What We Hath Wrought. The person I’m looking for is probably impossible to find, but I’m going to try anyway. Why impossible? Because I haven’t met someone like the person I’m imagining, at least not in the right context.

Back when I needed a partner to help me get FM off the ground, I wrote a post looking for an office manager/person friday. I spoke of how I needed someone just like Stacey, who now runs conferences for FM. Out of the blue nowhere I found Jennifer, who is now our Chief of Staff. I never thought I’d find someone like her, but the web found a way. It’s my hope lightening might strike twice.

The person I’m looking for loves the practice of writing. He or she loves complicated but fascinating topics, loves to figure out how to understand them, and loves explaining those topics with words. This is a core skill, and whoever I work with has to have it. Not because I intend to co-write the book with this person (I don’t), but because having this skill means you’ve cleared a hurdle to working with me on this project. In other words, non writers need not apply.

Sure, there’ll be writing, but it’ll be more along the lines of writing up findings from reading papers, or articles, more like epistolary communication with me. And debates, and arguments. I like those, if the counterpart is worthy. A sharp and questioning mind is required. But if you’re a cocksure asshole, well, find another one to work with. God knows there are a lot of them in the writing world.

I could imagine, should this person prove astute, that some of his or her writing will end up here on Searchblog, under their byline of course.

But I also need this person to be someone who Just Gets Shit Done and Doesn’t Complain About It. As in “can you figure out the best transcription software for me to use?” Even if you can’t name a brand of samesaid software (I can name just one), you’ll Figure It Out and Get It Done.

Oh, and you won’t Make Stupid Assumptions, instead, you’ll Ask Intelligent Questions and go from there. Such as “OK, Battelle, in what context will you be using this software? On what machine? To what end? Do you need it to work in real time? What’s your budget?” Etc.

If this sounds easy to you, well, read on. If you hate this job description, I’m not sure we’re going to get along.

I’m going to send this person on odd errands at times. Like “go find out everyone who matters who’s ever cited Edmund Burke as it relates to the book.” Or “I think I need a bookshelf. Do you think I need a bookshelf? Yeah, let’s get a bookshelf.” Oh, and “can you please figure out how to get my notes from my Kindle into some kind of organized fashion?”

Oh, which brings me to another part of the work. I’m reading a lot of books, articles, and posts. And I’m talking to a lot of folks. And I’m taking a lot of notes. And to most mortals, I am sure these notes mean next to nothing. But to this person, they are a treasured asset that they will curate and help make sense of, over time, helping me to build some kind of sensible approach to this massive and terrifying project.

For example, step one would just be helping me figure out the right bookmarking app to use. And step two would be figuring out a cool custom search engine to apply against it. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Are you out there? I pay well, and a lot of folks will attest, I’m pretty fun to work with, at least if you have the right attitude.

Work will be from my offices in Marin and San Francisco, as well as your home. So if you are not in the Bay Area, that could be an issue.

This will be full time for at least a few months (to start), but it’s probably at least half time after that (and we can probably keep it full time in some way. I have a lot going on). I’m looking for someone who’s got some experience, so if you’re still in college, or just out, I’m pretty sure this isn’t for you.

If you’re the right person, contact me. You’re smart enough to figure out how, and what to say when you do. (And tell me whose picture that is up at the top). Folks who know me well, who are reading this, please help a brother out, will ya? Thanks.

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  • Ric Steinberger

    The details are here:

    http://cl.ly/0R3a472q05372P2f3F2E

  • Jan Kabili

    John: I just sent you a Facebook Message about this. Please check there.

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    it seems to me you need a clone of John Battelle with irony of Mark Twain, assiduousness of Dostoevsky, and nimbleness of Molier.. with WP Inside sure )

  • http://vpetkov.com Vesselin Petkov

    When you name a picture battellemedia.com/GeorgeHarding.jpeg it’s not a secret any more :-)

  • http://disqus.com/Bertrood/ Robert Thuston

    John,

    Do you work from your home or office?
    What are your daily routines?
    Do prefer to communicate more through writing or talking (morning or evening)?
    Who will proofread and edit drafts early on?
    Would travel be involved with this position?
    How close do you expect to develop a relationship with the person you are working?
    What would be the start and end point (now to book publish?) of this position?
    When you think of other authors, past and present, that have successfully filled this position, who comes to mind and what was the name of their counterpart?

    Thanks,
    Robert

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  • http://battellemedia.com/ Kay-Antonia Himmelfarb

    John, please note that the phrase should be “lightning might strike twice.”

    Lightning is the bright, electrical discharge that takes place in the air.

    Lightening, the word you chose, is a lessening of darkness.

  • http://www.stagirainc.com Jason Stoddard

    Flies of Summer… :-)

  • http://www.maguffinworldwide.com/ Zoe Sexton

    John, it’s an easy match without the jpeg George Harding giveaway.

    Would love to discuss in the written word or verbally, the details of your project. I have a passion for language and communication that I leverage at every opportunity. Began writing in third grade as an avid fan of Harriot the Spy and everything she represented. I even switched from peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches to tomato and mayonnaise in her honor (and to stop some of the teasing at my new school). I have journals dating back to that time and up to now.
    Love fascinating and complicated topics on every subject and enjoy unraveling the many layers of metaphor to share deeper meaning with others. Insatiably curious with an eclectic suite of interests that leave no stone unturned.
    Try me.

  • http://www.maguffinworldwide.com/ Zoe Sexton

    Somehow that took off without my finishing.
    Your question and premise of the book brings many thoughts to mind. First when you look at history since Samuel Morse (litho) and the dawn of ‘personality-based’ selling strategies or more aptly called propaganda selling to what we have today, it is easy to get caught up in the giddy contagion of attention that fan pages, texting, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter provide. Excitement can be generated over the idea of ‘Collective Wisdom’ and collaborative environments where scientist and researchers can share ideas while they maintain their intellectual property rights.
    Yet, we must give pause I think, if we eradicate print publishing and intellectual content, to the direction we are headed. I have had this conversation (more like an explaining on my part) about the spreading divide between the haves and the have-nots. These are the technology have and have-nots who will potentially become the literacy haves and have-nots. Not only do we face widening gaps in wealth, but also in intelligence as we converge on narrowed holders to media distribution. It appears to be so free and transparent to us on this side at the moment, but the sense of impending danger can not be denied. Yet we know we must forge forward. In that context, and with a belief in optimism that these problems are being recognized and solved as I write this, I am intrigued to read your book but would enjoy helping you discover it.

  • http://disqus.com/Bertrood/ Robert Thuston

    I’m interested.

    I wake up at 4:30am typically and like to read/write/comment for at least 2 hours as part of my daily routine that sets my thinking for the rest of the day. I work best from a place with few distractions, casual interaction, and a place nearby to walk. I delight in personal relationships built around meaningful work. These are my basic needs.

    I want this job for selfish reasons. I plan to develop broad businesses (in time) that address the future about which you will be writing. I want to be in the center of that, while developing ideas and relationships with the right people. So, working with you on this book would be a great opportunity.

    I learned to write at boarding school and Millsaps (a liberal arts college in the South). I’m conscious of my communication, and do my best to tailor it towards my audience. I did this with papers I wrote, I do this with my comments on Disqus (check them out, URL above), and developed many presentations for work where I did this as well. I don’t break down complicated issues into digestible bits; I obsess over finding the one, two, or three points from which everything unfolds. Finding the right questions is often the bulk of my work, next is how I bring back what I’ve found to the audience. I find leading an audience down a path towards their own discoveries is more important than dictating the correct answers, which can stifle thought and imagination. I search for the points from which everything unfolds based on my experience, but also draw from my deep affections for Tolstoy, Rand, Emerson, Drucker, and Larry Bossidy.

    I’m happy to be your Write-hand. Here is what I propose:

    1) For the first three months, Learn how you prefer to work, and get acquainted with the project.

    2) When you ask about a transcription software, I’ll follow up with contextual questions, an iteration of the discussion after some research, and if necessary some hands on observations of you while working. When you ask me to find everyone who has cited Edmond Burkes on topics related to this project, I hope you don’t mind me starting out with “Who the hell is Edmond Burke, and what made you think of him?” Give me a little context, and I’ll figure out the rest. I can pick you up a bookshelf. I can research bookmark applications. And I can treasure your notes.

    3) Transition to ongoing weekly meetings and phone calls after three months to continue discussions on improving productivity, short term and long term goals, milestones, specific tasks, etc.

    4) Set up quarterly roundtable discussions such as:

    “Critical figures to this project”… At this roundtable we’d likely invite some 5 – 7 of your acquaintances to discuss and debate critical “people” across the globe that understand or are experiencing the shift going on and have great insight to it (political leaders, businessmen, thought leaders). The result would be a 360 degree view of each of these critical figures to determine which should be engaged in the project.

    “Choosing the right ideas”… At this roundtable, we’d likely invite some 3-4 critical people to understand and debate today’s market, the defining trends, the critical issues, central figures, and what it means for the future. The result would be a more dynamic understanding of the fundamental ideas the book is addressing.

    “First draft review”… At this roundtable, we’d likely have 4 -5 people, likely be writers, editors, etc., to discuss the arrangement of the content, the clarity of the message, the power of the message, the emotional draw of the message, etc. The result would be a greater understanding of how the draft is communicated before finishing the book.

    In closing, I’m fascinated with your work. I read “Signal, Curation, Discovery” at the end of last year, and have since then built a first draft design of a social application that addresses “people discovery” in a fresh light. I’m fascinated with “people discovery”, and you planted that seed with the clarity of your post. What you said in that post continues to unfold (even now with Google +). You hit the nail on the head. To be at the center of this book would have great personal significance for me, because I want to build that future.

    Robert Thuston

  • http://whatyoualreadyknow.blogspot.com spencer

    This sounds and awful lot like what I did for my last job- until my boss relocated and I didn’t. I did everything from KM to construction management and site selection via ArcGIS software. This was for the corporate headquarters for Service Street- but under the umbrella of Fagan Capital, Inc.

    I’m a librarian by training and education. Needless to say, I find this interesting. Let me know if you’d like to talk to me about it.

  • http://stevenleckart.com Steven

    The man in the photo is GEORGE HARDING.

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Harding,+George

    Confession: I figured it out, because that’s the name of the jpg. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tcifelli Tom

    Zoe you remind me of Eric Little in Chariots xx xxxx, divinely guided in a race of your own wondrously not for personal glory … you go on inspiring and enlightening spirited girl

  • Robert

    Who do you want to be the audience of this book?

  • http://www.maguffinconsulting.com Zoe

    I wanted to check in and see how the commentary has unfolded in your search on this blog call-out. I have been digging into the question you pose regarding the next 30 years of the direction of the internet which really represents the direction of information, communication and then where we sit with it. In so doing, and in my very fortuitous way, I have been able to sit at Facebook with an IT manager discussing the direction of B2B, share a table with the manager for the SETI institute, and with William Hopper who is visiting from London and on board for his next book carrying forward his position at the Drucker Institute and global management. I also think energy will be a relevant aspect and consideration of your investigation as it affects all that we do, politics, policies and development. With that to consider, I had the opportunity to discuss the China position in the investment in emcore as well as the IP databases that are being consolidated all over the world (including China’s). Yes, this sounds like a a bit much, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way the mind can and does work with regard to how things can and do connect, and what is going to affect the next new development in technology. The curious thing is, rather like Harriet the Spy, I have a wonderful talent born of my insatiable curiosity to connect with many types of people all over the world at many levels and love nothing better than to understand how their minds work and what they are doing about it. Particularly the Other 90%.
    That said, although I’m relatively invisible, I am passionate about having the opportunity to speak with you about you book, and discover if we find a commonality to work together.

  • Roger

    John,

    FWIW “What We Hath Wrought” is incorrect grammar. It “hath” is archaic for “has” and goes with “he”, “she” or “it” (“What He Hath Wrought”). If “we” is the subject, it needs to be “What We Have Wrought.”

    I hope all is well in FM land.

    Yes, I’m happy to copy-edit or help with your book, too–I’ve done that a lot in the past.

    Roger-ex-FM

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