So, Split Decision: The Nonsense Knowledge Game isn’t the only new project I’ve had on the go this year – I’ve also been collating and editing a book. It’s called The Science of Computing and it’s a collection of some of the best hardcore technology journalism from authors such as Ben Hardwidge, Mike Bedford and Phil Hartup.
You can buy The Science of Computing now on Amazon’s Kindle service for the low, low price of £2.05. You can also check out a free sample and, because it’s on the Kindle platform, you can access it on your phone with the official Kindle app if you don’t have an eReader.
The idea for the book – and others that I hope to create in the future – came from when I first saw Dennis Publishing’s back-issue archive one day. In the labs under Cleveland Street there are cupboards filled to the brim with old copies of Custom PC, Men’s Fitness, Bizarre and all the other magazines. There’s some really good writing in those pages and a lot of it’s still relevant, but most of it goes to waste. There’s a great article on AI development by Ben, for example, that’s not ever been seen outside of the pages of the one issue it was published in years ago.
Producing the book wasn’t an easy task, but nor was it exactly difficult either. I analysed the market and came up with a product strategy first, then trawled the digital back-issue archives by hand and selected all the features that would still be relevant, then pruned these down based on topic and quality. I then had to clear the legal and rights issues of each story before I could laboriously port them from InDesign to Word to the Kindle Digital Publishing platform.
That last step sounds easy, but it’s the hardest bit. Formatting errors get introduced at every stage and have to be tackled by hand, then tested on a multitude of Kindle devices if you want to get a professional quality at the end. Metadata and embedded data has to be handled carefully too, though it’s all more time consuming than it is actually difficult.
The result though should speak for itself and hopefully satisfy all parties. Readers get a collection of some of the best hardcore technology journalism from the UK, covering topics such as the chemical make-up of PCs and the challenge of designing computers for outer space and other extreme environments. Meanwhile, the writers see their work preserved and curated into a new format, while Dennis Publishing gets a new product to launch.
Finally, I get some more feathers to put in my cap this year, complementing game design and production experience with a demonstrable understanding of content strategy on digital platforms. Buzzwords are cool.