Acquiring video games prior to console domination and the modern Internet era went like this: I walked into Electonics Boutique or Egghead Software, went to the PC section, and began to physically pick up the games. I held them in my hand and I was looking for two things: did it have the right weight and did it have the right size?
Again, this is pre-Internet, so I can’t run off to GameSpot to see the community-based ranking of the game. It was me, Electronics Boutique, and instinct. I could tell from a quick shake whether the box contained just disks (or a CD) or whether it included the media, documentation, the map of Sosaria, and some useless mood-setting trinket. See, what I’d learned after many horrible purchases was that if the game maker chose to invest in accessorizing the game with useless crap, there was a high probability that the game was actually fun.
That’s right. Shaking the atoms to see if the bits are fun.
You Don’t Read
This is why, last week as I sat in the bar at the W Hotel, opening my box of author copies of Managing Humans, I was afraid of two things: did the book have the right weight and it did it have the right size?
I know what I think when a book sits limp in your hand, feeling pamphlet-like and unimportant. I know when the page size screams of a paperback, “Just rip the cover off and send it back!” I know that even though I’d spent the last 10 months writing, editing, and fretting about the words, I was still at the mercy of page layout, paper stock quality, and however the hell they measure the glossiness of the cover.
They nailed it. You want to hold this book in your hands, which increases the chance that you’ll want to read it. Here are three other reasons.
- Yes, Managing Humans is predominantly content that you can scrape together from the weblog. But there are brand new chapters. These are articles that have been sitting in the To Be Written folder, so I wrote them. Note: not publishing a completed article on the weblog is surprisingly hard.
- All of the existing chapters have been rewritten. There are two classifications for these rewrites, either “Tidying” or “Total Rewrite”. Some classic Rands chapters fell under the total rewrite knife, including N.A.D.D., which was a nerve-wracking process that involved alcohol. Other chapters simply needed a touch-up. And, yeah, everyone is still wondering what Malcolm Events is actually about.
- You can’t read on the web.
Did you catch that? I’ll type it again because there’s a good chance you’re scanning this article, which, incidentally, proves my point. You can’t read on the web.
Whether you believe that the 10 months of work constructing this book is worth it or not, you need to understand that reading these chapters on your couch is an entirely different experience from reading them on the weblog. Try it right now. Go pick your favorite Rands article and print it out. Now, read that article somewhere far away from your computer and then come back and tell me what you learned.
The absence of temptation, the lack of distractions, the comfort of that lounge chair on your deck, sitting in the sun, drinking that coffee, and reading a book. This is advanced relaxation and the manner in which your brain consumes information in this setting is different than when you’re reading this article whilst dodging the incessant Twitter flood of iPhone updates.
I haven’t worked out the elevator pitch for the book. When a random person asks, “What’s it about?” I still stupidly answer, “Uh, management?” One of the points of the book is to get you thinking about you and management. It’s a narrative, not a set of rules. There are very few charts ‘n’ graphs. My hope is that by reading these stories, you’ll think about how you deal with managers and think up your own management strategy.
Strategy doesn’t happen in front of the computer. It happens in the shower, on the couch, or during the drive to work. Strategy happens when you take time to think and my thought is that you’ll strategize better with atoms than with bits.