Yesterday’s post about writing a book with Google Docs was about improving collaboration among authors (as well as working without the cruft of word-processing features that aren’t germane to many manuscripts). But writing on the Web also means you can collaborate with your readers, long before anything is ready for print.
Bryan O’Sullivan recently posted his thoughts on the feedback mechanism he built for the upcoming Real World Haskell:
As for our response to comments, my own way of dealing with them has changed over time. Initially, I was overwhelmed by their sheer quantity. Although I read every comment, I rarely responded to any individually, because it seemed like such a huge mountain. After a while, though, my attitude changed: I concluded that if someone was going to take the trouble to tell me something they thought was important, the least I could do was acknowledge what they said and thank them. That’s now my usual default. (I can’t tell if readers like this, but hey, I’m doing it for me.)
This kind of collaboration with readers while a book is being written may well become the norm.