Upcoming Book Sprints

The 2014 schedule is filling up. The following is a short summary of upcoming Book Sprints run by our fabulous team of facilitators:

BS4ICTResearch March 24, Berlin, Germany
In collaboration with UrbanIxD: Designing Human Interactions in the Networked City, a Coordination Action project funded by the European Commission under FP7 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET Open).

World Bank April 7, Bogota, Columbia
A Book Sprint for the World Bank, details coming soon.

BS4ICTResearch April 24, Sardinia
Seven Convergent Science Network members will participate in Book Sprint to produce a piece with the preliminary title: History and Fundamental principles of biomimetic robotics and neuromorphic engineering. The event will take place in a hotel on the beautiful Capo Caccia peninsula to the west of Alghero on Sardinia.

OpenLabs May 5, Coventry, UK
Social Innovation Lab are holding a Book Sprint organised by PHD student Hendrik Tiesinga we are facilitating a Book Sprint to produce an accessible, widely distributed and read, open-source co-created book on social innovation labs. The book will describe the story of many open innovation labs from around the world and a particular long-term social innovation process within it. The goal is to go beyond the ‘hype’ and learn together the real potential is of social labs.

BS4ICTResearch May 5, Nice, France
Details to be announced soon.

TimesUp May 26, Linz, Austria
Details forthcoming.

Open Textbooks June 9, Vancouver, Canada
Production of a 1st year Geography textbook. More details coming soon.

UNDP Lexicon Project

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) has a number of Electoral Support Projects in the Arab region and one of the many things they are doing is to produce a tri-lingual lexicon of electoral terminology in Arabic, English and French. Its primary focus is to provide definitions of 500 or so terms in Modern Standard Arabic Arabic and at the same time, reflecting the differences in local language use around the region. There are currently 8 target Arab nations participating in the project each of which have their own local expressions for many terms. The English and French provide a second language of reference.

The project Adam Hyde (founder of Book Sprints) is involved in the first regional edition. An initial project produced a bi-lingual lexicon in Tunisia two years ago. It was created using microsoft word and desktop publishing softwares. The main problem that arose using this toolchain was that it was an unwieldy and linear production ‘workflow’ where tracking and tracing changes in multiple documents (operated on my multiple contributors and translators) became a huge burden for the project. In addition, many terms had to be updated in the desktop publishing environment. Add to that right to left character sets mixed with left to right character sets and you have yourself a serious headache.

So for this new more ambitious project, Adam, together with our developer Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Barquero, built a web based software (free software which will soon have its own site etc) using HTML as the base file format and using various ‘modern technologies’ (sockets, nodeJS, BookJS and contenteditable etc for those that are interested) to enable concurrent additions, comments and editing of translations by the team of 12+ or so involved (spread across many countries) in realtime. The output of the lexicon can also be tested at anytime using tools to convert the HTML to book formatted PDF (and EPUB) at a click of a button.

The software was iteratively built as the project progressed. I would say that it is not elegant but it does do the job. It will also improve over time.

While this is not the core work of Book Sprints it is an interesting example of collaborative book production over the web in a reasonably treacherous environment (character sets, low bandwidth access, concurrent edits etc) but the result (it will be published in April) is that the work is progressing much faster than the previous tedious MS Word, email, and DTP combo. Feedback from project co-ordinators can’t believe the efficiency gains and the burden that has been lifted from their shoulders. In fact, put simply, the project manager told me it would have been next to impossible to do this without the collaborative approach. The participants in the process are loving the interactive aspect of us because we also built a discussion space where they can exchange ideas and double check meanings.

Adam Hyde nominated for the Visionary Pioneer Award

Ars Electronica have nominated Adam Hyde for the Visionary Pioneer Award for his work in Book Sprints and collaborative knowledge production.


“Founder and pioneer of new collaborative knowledge production methods including the Book Sprint (0 to book in 5 days). Developed first end to end online book production software, founder FLOSS Manuals, designer of innovative collaborative knowledge production platforms for the Public Library of Science, United Nations and others. http://www.booksprints.net”

The Sound of a Book Sprint

The good folks of the FoCAS (Fundamentals of Collective Adaptive Systems) wrote in the research newsletter about the Book Sprint we facilitated for them late last year 2013). Its a great article…click on the below to read.

2-newsletter [Page 13]

To get the newsletter go here (http://focas.eu/newsletter-issue-two/). To get the book go here (http://focas.eu/adaptive-collective-systems-book/).

OER Book Sprint in BC

Taken from http://clintlalonde.net/2014/02/06/a-sprinting-we-will-go/

A sprinting we will go!

Sprint Board

Ok, I am pretty pumped about this. I’ve been working on this for the past few months and am very happy to see it coming to fruition. Earlier this week I got budget approval to go ahead with a textbook sprint.

In a nutshell, a textbook sprint is an intense 3-5 day event that brings together 6-8 authors to write a book. I wrote a post in November about our preliminary thinking around having a textbook sprint and last month posted some notes from a conversation I had with Erika Pearson about her textbook sprint at University of Otago in New Zealand last fall.

Now, coming out of a textbook sprint with a full textbook is the primary goal. But I have another equally important goal for the event, one that relates directly to the sustainability of an open textbook. I am hoping that the faculty who take part in the co-creation of the textbook emerge feeling a sense of ownership around what they have created in this intense burst of activity, and that this feeling of ownership translates into the beginnings of a community of practice going forward. Having this intense event act as the impetus which leads to stewardship of the textbook.

I’ll be writing more about the logistics of the event, but for now I am happy to say that Adam Hydewill be coming to facilitate the event. Adam has developed a methodology for book sprints & has completed over 70 book sprints resulting in a finished book every time. It’s an impressive track record.

Originally I gave a thought to facilitating the event myself. But after reading this article (PDF) fromPhil BarkerLorna M. Campbell and Martin Hawksey at Cetis in the U.K. who, along with Amber Thomas at the University of Warwick, worked with Adam on an OER-oriented book sprint I changed my mind. Specifically, this quote stuck in my head:

“It is my belief that Book Sprints succeed or fail based primarily on facilitation. I have seen sprints fail because of inexperienced facilitation by people who do not really understand what the process is and how all the issues come into play”

So I contacted Adam, and I am very happy I did. After speaking to Adam I was quite impressed with his thinking around what it takes to have a successful book sprint, and his thinking about the crucial role that an impartial facilitator plays in making sure the project gets done in the limited time allotted. He also understands the importance of positive group dynamics and creating an atmosphere of true collaboration in order to reach that goal we have of developing a community moving forward. And he seems like an interesting guy who I’d like to hang out with for a few days. I am really looking forward to learning from him.

The idea is we will bring together 6 faculty for 4 days in June, hunker down at SFU Burnaby and bang out a credible, useable open textbook.

The dates we have are June 9-12 and the subject area we are going to concentrate on is 1st year Geography.

Geography is a broad discipline, so to help narrow the scope I spoke with with the head of the Geography articulation committee here in BC, Jim Bowers at Langara, to get a better sense as to where we should focus our efforts. After a bit of brainstorming, I think we are going to look at developing a regional Geography of Canada textbook. There are a couple of reasons for this focus.

  1. Regional Geography is a common 1st year course across institutions in B.C. so it would have broad appeal.
  2. Being that it is a Geography of Canada book, the textbook would have appeal outside of B.C. so we could create something that had value for other jurisdictions as well.
  3. We have an opportunity with the B.C. Open Textbook project to create something that is needed in our province (Geography is one of the top 40 subject areas identified in our early textbook needs analysis), but will probably not be picked up as a development project by any of the other major open textbook initiatives currently underway, such as OpenStax College or SUNY Open Textbooks.  Those projects are primarily U.S. based projects and the development of a textbook so Canada specific will be of little interest to them. Unfortunately, the downside of choosing such a Canada specific project for the book sprint means that we are creating something that will probably have little interest for those projects in return, but I am confident that there are many other areas where our work will compliment each others.
  4. There are existing open Geography resources that I think we can draw on to help seed the book with content. When I look in SOLR (our repository of open content here in BC) I can find over 30 Geography resources listed there, including many full first year open Geography courses. This is content that has been created over the years by B.C. faculty funded by provincial OPDF funds, and I see this as an incredible opportunity for us to build and reuse open content that has already been created by B.C. Faculty.

Next steps now that the funding & logistics are in place is finding game faculty. I’ll be posting some more details on the project for interested Geography faculty in B.C. over on ouropen.bccampus.ca website (I’ll come back here & update the link when I have that ready to go). But for now, if you know of any faculty who teach Geography in B.C. who might b

Mining Contracts Panel in Cape Town


2.00pm – 3.00pm, Wednesday, February 5, 2014, Mining Indaba
Room 1.63 Cape Town International Convention Center

Learn about a new resource on mining contracts -hot off the press. Fourteen experts have just produced the world’s most comprehensive book on mining contracts for lay readers in just five days using a collaborative writing technique known as a “Book Sprint.” Mining Contracts: how to read and understand them is a user-friendly guide to help policy makers, civil society, citizens, and the media understand the often complex and opaque terms of mining contracts.

The book is available for download but free copies will be available at this event, including extras for colleagues and home offices.

The book explains in layman’s terms the principal features of a contract, compares different approaches to key issues, and supplies the context and background necessary for non-specialists to understand how contracts are negotiated and what they say. Its two dozen chapters address issues such as how contracts interact with laws and treaties, how fiscal tools work and interact, how contracts can protect the environment and community rights, and how to avoid and manage disputes, along with many other topics.

Presenters include: Johnny West, Founder of Open Oil, Rob Pitman of Revenue Watch Institute and Michael Jarvis of the World Bank Institute. 

ABC SBC Handbook Book Sprint

As the first snow of the year was falling in Berlin this week, the FRAFOS team gathered indoors for a 3 day Book Sprint in order to write a manual for their product ABC SBC, a scalable session border controller for VoIP service providers. While FRAFOS had some documentation before, it was not nearly comprehensive which put a large burden on their customer support colleagues. As a secondary goal, the FRAFOS team wanted to improve their own understanding of the scope of the software so as to develop a vision for future development.

The contributors were supported by one target reader from Sipwise, one of FRAFOS’ main customers, three gourmet chefs, and a designer. This Book Sprint was facilitated by Barbara Rühling.

Early morning concepting session

On the first day, the scope and the structure of the book were outlined, and then we started writing and went on until midnight. So by the second day, we had 25,000 words written and already done some reviewing.

Late night writing session

We kept going through several reviewing cycles until day three, while filling the gaps in the content, improving the overall structure of the book, and finally writing an introduction that serves as a guide on how to use and read the book. At the evening of day 3, the ABC SBC Handbook with 196 pages, 35,000 words and numerous illustrations was completed with a cover design.

ABC SBC Handbook cover

More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/101584348@N06/with/12114637453/

Understanding Mining Contracts

MiningContractsHowToUnderstanding Mining Contracts book released today. The book was produced during a 5 day Book Sprint in Baltimore last week.

More information here:


“Drawing from several of the contracts on ResourceContracts.org, “Mining Contracts: How to Read and Understand Them” is a new book created to highlight strong contract clauses and explore how others could be improved. It goes beyond legal considerations to explore the policy questions and company interests underlying contract provisions—issues that are crucial for understanding and negotiating contracts, and for monitoring their enforcement.

The book was written in just five days by a group of 14 experts convened on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA. Organized by the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), OpenOil, the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC), and Revenue Watch Institute-Natural Resource Charter (RWI-NRC), this project is a collective, collaborative effort of the individual contributors, made using the “book sprint” technique.”

Mining Contracts Book Sprint Started

The Understanding Mining Contracts Book Sprint is underway. 17 people (15 contributors and 2 from Book Sprints) are gathered in Baltimore to write a follow up to Understanding Petroleum Contracts written in a Book Sprint in 2012 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/101584348@N06/sets/72157635459748355/). We have mining engineers, Ministers from Mongolia and Liberia, contract negotiators, lawyers, NGO watch dogs and the ever important target readers hunkered down in Kent Manor while the snow and geese around us decide if they want to stay.

Working with a view

At day 3 we have written 50,000 words and there have been a few all nighters by some of the more experienced hands. Vigorous discussion and debate is the substance of the day with much of it making its way into the book but from here on in it is mainly review and restructuring. We have also assembled a small group to start at the top and work their way through the entire book rewriting much of it from the position of the target reader.

While the sections of the book are being brought to an end on day 4, the group is working through several review circles, illustrations are being designed, and the discussions continue late into the night.

Writing process

Photos can be found at the following link and updates to follow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/101584348@N06/

New Book Sprint platform

We have been working hard in the back rooms of Book Sprints. It has been productive times and we will soon try out our new platform built for accelerated and collaborative book production. Code named ‘PubSweet’ the platform is still in a raw state but quite possibly ready for its first trial. Stay tuned…