Well this is embarrassing -- how do I create content?

I have successfully created a home page for our ‘book’ – schwoo. Now I want to start putting content in there for people to interact with: everyone works differently. Some authors will perfect then upload, some will tweak inline, etc.

Do I set up a ‘space’ somewhere? It’s really obvious isn’t it?


No embarrassing questions here! You’ve beaten me a bit to some things I was going to discuss at tomorrow’s session — tools and platforms. :slight_smile:

The project homepage you’ve created is a good place to have discussions, share your Table of Contents, resources for the team, but may not be the right place to share several pages worth of content for your team to comment on, edit, and more. We’ve seen this interaction take place in a number of different ways, mainly based on what stage their content was at (still early on in draft or outlines? ready to be formatted and laid out? ready to be reviewed by others?). It also depends on your preferred method of organizing submissions and content from many teams. Some like spreadsheets, others folders in Drives — there’s no singular approach. I know of projects with large teams around the world rely on a tool like Google docs (or similar) to initially share content and make suggestions and edits and use the Google Drive folders to keep everything organized. Others have transferred their content directly into a tool like Pressbooks, and relied on annotation software like Hypothesis to encourage others to share their feedback.

The most common approach I’ve seen is to draft out a table of contents for your ‘book’ relying on the comments in your project discussion, then moving it along into Google Docs (where you can ask for more feedback). The writing/creation and editing phases could take place here too, depending on the type of content you are creating, and so can one stage of review and feedback. Once the team is satisfied with the content, you can transfer it into the tool you’ll be using to share final formats of the book — example, Pressbooks. Once the content is in this tool, you can complete stages like layout, proofreading, classroom review, and final checks, before you publish! And all along the way, teams have updated their project homepage, so everyone on the project, whether directly involved or just following, will know what stage is taking place and where.

Now I recall you saying that you wanted to investigate different tools and platforms for actually sharing your resource, so you could start out in one ‘space’ or format (like a Google doc or the project discussion space) and then move into something new. I’d say the first thing would be to gather your team in the project homepage, so they can all get used to having conversations in that space. Then, if you have some content ready to share with your team/the community for feedback, you could do so in the project discussion itself, or Google Docs (since it’s collaborative editing features are useful). If you’re interested in a tool like Pressbooks, let me know.

I think this mainly covered “where” you can create content, not quite the “how,” but does it help? If not, please keep the questions coming.

Interesting… So, we have a skeleton of 4 ‘chapters’ so far. The first 3 already exist and will be put into place without much more formatting or styling required.

The 4th is going to be a big one where most of the ‘authors’ contribute. But I’m worried that we’re falling into a rut here of doing things. E.g., this isn’t going to be so linear for us. We’re going to jump to content and then back out to scope and team and revisit each of these along the way. E.g., we’ll have people joining until quite ‘late’ in the process I’d think.

So, the question is: how can a project that defies the ‘typical’ project organization jump ahead and jump back?


I agree with Apurva, Google Docs sounds like the best place you can work with your group. It sounds like your team may want to appoint a “project manager” that can be responsible for getting newcomers up to speed so it doesn’t distract the rest of the team.

I’m curious to learn your approach to combining all the works from different authors into a coherent chapter that has a good flow and keeps everything reading in the same voice. There are only 2 of us working on my team, and we enlisted the help of a couple teaching assistants last semester to design some exercises (were are writing a lab manual), so it’s going to be a challenge for us to achieve this.

@Daniel-Hauptvogel thanks for the thoughts. I am feeling as though this model isn’t quite fitting us yet. We aren’t interested in reproducing the textbook model or harmonizing the voice. We want different voices. Cohesion can happen, I think, fairly easily – with transition sections if needed. And we are unlikely to have a fixed group of authors and THEN content. We’re likely to have both, and. And I’d imagine that other groups are likely to run into this, no?

Thanks @Daniel-Hauptvogel! Project managers are definitely helpful, not just to help orient anyone new to the team, but also to keep things on track and motivate the team. I could go on about the role!

Jess, I fully hear what what you’re saying. First off - how fantastic that you have a few chapters already! What was the process like when coming up with those? This might help figure out how to go forward with the rest, especially if something has been working well.

As for the 4th big chapter, we can definitely come up with something to make sure that you don’t get in a rut or necessarily stick with a linear process. In fact, we tend to think of publishing as very non-linear! What you’re describing of working on a chapter, going elsewhere to scope or brainstorm, returning to make changes to the chapter (and others), has been done. I’ve seen lots of projects with content going on a rolling basis; some moving ahead to different phases while others were just being conceived.

It comes down to team preferences for tools. I’d suggest the project team identify a few tools that they feel most comfortable flitting back and forth in, and those managing/keeping track of the project feel best using. And in this case, I can see both Pressbooks + Hypothesis + project discussion or Google Docs + project discussion working well — because what you get is space to share, see, and collaboratively comment on the content, regardless of where the chapters are at. With the Pressbooks option, you could add your content in the book, and give everyone on your team access to the book, and this gives an idea of the resource as a whole. When you need to revise, you could do so directly in the book. And conversation could take place in the discussion space or Hypothesis. Transition sections can definitely be added in later. But, I’ll say that if these set of tools aren’t resonating, I can do some digging to see what else might be around to better fit your project needs.

100%. This reminds me of the Intro to Phil series, where the editor asks readers to pay specific attention to the changes in voice in the book, as it is representative of the different contributors and perspectives that have come together to create the book. A little snippet from their Series Introduction (Ethics):

Contributors to this series have been crowdsourced through email lists, social media, and other means. Each of the books has its own editor, and multiple authors from different parts of the world who have expertise in the topic of the book. This also means that there will inevitably be shifts in voice and tone between chapters, as well as in perspectives. This itself exemplifies the practice of philosophy, insofar as the philosophical questions worth discussing are those that do not yet have settled answers, and towards which there are multiple approaches worthy of consideration (which must, of course, provide arguments to support their claim to such worth).

As for the prospect of bringing on new authors/collaborators ‘late’ or ‘midway’ in the project, this totally happens. And we’re excited when it does! This is why I will (now and tomorrow) stress the importance of public updates, and maintaining your project homepage. The homepage is going to be a good cheat sheet or overview provider about the project that you can share with someone new: it’ll have details about the motivations for the project, the stages different sections are at, resources & documents to refer to, team introductions, and more. It’s also an engagement hub — while you onboard a new collaborator, they can also immediately connect with others on the project and ask questions as they dive into their role. I know of a few resources around recruitment and team building, so would be happy to share these if you wanted.

I’ll also say, I’m not the only one giving suggestions here, so would welcome input from others in the cohort or community! @LeighKP — maybe we can try to crowdsource some ideas by sharing this question more widely?