Tools of Change Appearance

For those of you planning to go to or thinking of attending the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference in New York City, February 9 – 11th, be aware that I’ll be there and I’ll be on a panel that is in fact pretty much about this very Web site: “Where Do You Go with 40,000 Readers? A Study in Online Community Building”

Here’s the abstract for the panel:

Science fiction author John Scalzi began writing the Whatever blog in 1998, posting about a wide variety of topics including the core themes of politics, writing, and science fiction, which helped him accrue an audience of roughly 40,000 daily readers over the course of a decade. In 2002, Scalzi serialized a novel, Old Man’s War, on his website and got the attention of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor Books—which, starting in 2005, published that book, three sequels, and another novel over a three-year period, with yet another book on the way for 2009.

Publishing industry observer Ron Hogan will interview Scalzi and Nielsen Hayden about, among other topics:

* the role of Whatever in building up a fan base for Scalzi’s fiction
* the online community that emerged from that fan base
* how to nurture such a community—and how lightly to hold the leash
* the model Scalzi’s success offered for the creation of Tor.com
* using free ebooks to promote authors and publishing imprints

As noted, I, PNH and Ron Hogan are on the panel — but the panel also as a special guest star: Tobias Buckell, who as you probably know does that there Web thingie himself. It’s going to be tons of fun. The panel will be at 3:40pm on Wednesday — one of the very last panels of the conference, actually — so mark your calendars now.

I think it’s kind of cool that Whatever is being held up as a model of community building, etc at one of these conferences, and I’m looking forward to talking to all of them about all of you. Don’t worry, I’ll say only nice things. What, you think I’m going to talk smack about you all behind your back? I would never. Well, there was that once. But I was drunk. I swear.

14 thoughts on “Tools of Change Appearance

  1. John,

    I would like to point out one of my biggest reasons for sticking around the place.
    Besides the active and wide range of people that comment here, which drives conversations that I would pay money to be a part of if I didn’t already come here, there is the active troll control.
    Is that a new term?
    Anyway, if not you popping in to cool things down, one of the other family members will put us in our place if it gets a little rowdy. Unrepentant trolls go to the moderation queue rather quickly.
    It also amazes me that most of the family members apologize for their behaviour as soon as their attention is brought to the fact the they’re starting to cross the snark line into troll speak.

    I keep saying “family” in my head as I describe everyone who drops in. Maybe that’s the important part of the group that has built up around the site. We might be slightly dysfunctional at times, well maybe quite dysfunctional at times, but we have a tendency to forgive and forget or at least let things go without holding grudges.

    We seem to do that better than most regular families, mine included.

    Glad to be a part of the community

    Jeff S.

  2. Wowzers. I’d be interested in hearing you speak, since I’m a fan and haven’t seen you before, but $1200 for a single panel is a little steep for me.

    That does sound like a really interesting panel though. I wasn’t aware that Tor.com was based on Whatever.

    Good luck and have fun.

  3. Since you’re coming east anyway, any chance that when the conference is over you might head up north and drop in on Boskone?

  4. What I love about hanging out here is that no matter the views of each reader (and we truly run the full range) we respect each other and agree to disagree and have meaningful discussion.

  5. I’m with ST – I’d love to run into the city to see you, PNH, and Toby, but $1200 is a bit rich, and I doubt I could con my company into believing it’s “work-related”…

    Ah, well. Just have to wait until you show up in the area at a slightly less-costly venue.

  6. Arg. You appear to be conflicting with Charles Stross being up in Boston for a signing/Boskone, and my boyfriend has already made plans on seeing me and him on those days.

    Otherwise, I would offer to buy you a drink on Wednesday night, safely after your panel. I’m sure the Marriott Marquis has a decent hotel bar.

  7. Uh, plans have changed. I do plan on being back in town on Wednesday evening. It turns out that Charlie is going to be Tuesday night. *whack on forehead* I’m so glad I checked before buying tickets.

    Any chance of letting a fan buy you a drink in your hotel bar? Whenever is fine.

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