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September 18, 2005

hackoff.com

Nasdaq The online serialization of my novel hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet Bubble and rubble has begun at, of course, hackoff.com.  It’s free and licensed under Creative Commons.  The hard cover edition’ll be out around the beginning of the year.

The first episode of this blook (sic, see below) has been posted.  CEO Larry Lazard is found dead in the offices of hackoff.com, a company which protects e-commerce sites from hackers.  The cause of death is obvious; he was shot in the head with the gun which is lying next to him.  Whodunit is the question?  Lots of the characters you’ll meet had a motive.  He could’ve even shot himself.

I set the story in the period 1999 through 2003 because it was a fascinating time which won’t repeat in the same way again.  As the CEO of a company which went public during the bubble, I experienced many of the events my fictional characters experience like the roadshow for an IPO, a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, a soaring and plunging stock price, and hostile takeover attempts.  Like all of us, I watched 9/11/01 with horror and was changed by it.  So I wrote about what I know about. 

The salesy description of the story which would be on the inside front flap of a physical book is here. But this is a blook (sic) so there is also a wiki here where you can rewrite this blurb.

The actual story is fiction and the characters (except for historic characters, celebrities, and people in 9/11 commission report) and company are fictional.  You can’t and never could buy stock in HOFC.  But you can visit its faux website here.  The site is now current as of March, 1999.  This may be a little confusing because the story starts with Larry’s death in 2003.  But chapter two goes back to the leadup to the company’s IPO in 1999.  The website will evolve with the story.  Check the FAQs if you want to know more about the company and Careers to see if you would have applied there.

A blook is a book serialized on a blog.  Although you need a good wireless connection and an anti-glare screen to read it on the beach, it does have advantages over a traditional book.  The faux company site, the wiki (which we’ll find more uses for), the user forum, and the contest in which you can win free prizes (from thinkgeek.com, of course), are just a beginning.  We’ll be adding features to the blook as we go along.

More information on blooks and why you need blookmarks is here.

I thought I made the word “blook” up but I wasn’t the first.  Jeff Jarvis made it up before I did.  The students at J. H. House Elementary school in Conyers, Georgia published Our ABC Blook on Blogging on a blog platform.  Tony Pierce called a physical book on how to blog a “blook”.

I had meant to announce the blook myself.  But that’s not the way thinks work in the blogosphere.  We made the site live yesterday to test it so it didn’t remain a secret for long.  I was surprised and pleased to see announcements on Jeff Pulver’s blog, Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine, and Brad Feld’s Feld Thoughts.  The blooksite is already getting lots of traffic.

I blogged previously about the good advice I got from Seth Godin and Andy Kessler that first-time authors should self-publish.  I’m giving the blook away online in part because Cory Doctorow wrote: "For almost every writer, the number of sales they lose because people never hear of their book is far larger than the sales they'd lose because people can get it for free online. The biggest threat we face isn't piracy, it's obscurity."  Obscurity doesn’t sound like fun.

In marketing terms, the blogosphere is the channel for the blook hackoff.com.  So it’s not surprising that we’ve been collaborating with a number of blog-related companies in our blook publishing endeavor.

FeedBlitz emails episodes to those who subscribe by email and also is handling registration for our contest.  You can sign up for emailed episodes AND the contest here.

FeedBurner handles RSS feed conversion for the blook and we’re working with them on some other projects and co-promotions.  They are an important part of our plan to automatically create blogrolls of not only blogs which mention hackoff.com but also   blogs about blooks and other blooksites.

NewsGator has created a “blook” category so readers will have an easy way to find new blooks to read and blook-writers will have a way to publicize.  And we have other projects and co-promotions underway with them.

ReturnPath has given us invaluable advice on how to use (and not use) email feeds.

Our old friends at Signal Advertising designed both the blooksite and the faux company website.

WordOfBlog is hosting an icon which bloggers can use as a pointer to hackoff.com here .  Blogs that generate referrals through this icon automatically get added to our referral blog roll. 

I’ve been lucky to have a great informal brain trust helping me to figure this out (mistakes are my own, though). The team includes Dick Costolo, Matt Blumberg, Brad Feld, J.B. Holston, and Fred Wilson.

Self-publishing is a mini-enterprise formed around a single project like the production company for a play.  This being the days of web 2.0, the enterprise is, of course, virtual and the members of the team are scattered around the country and rarely see or even speak to each other. Much more about the people on this very talented team is here.

hackoff.com is dedicated to Mary- friend, lover, wife, companion, and cofounder of many a strange adventure.

I hope you enjoy the blook.

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