Note: Like my new layout? It was super-easy to do, and my only gripe is that I wasn't able to upload my own background image.
A lot more goes into making a textbook than you might think. The one I'm working on now has been in the works for about 4 years, and we're hoping to get it out for next spring. Once the overall plan of the book is established, chapters are divvied up between authors, and they start plugging away at researching and writing. Each chapter goes through several rounds of developmental editing before it's deemed complete. That is, it covers all the right topics and none of the wrong ones, it does this in the right order and in the right way. (That's my job.) Next, the chapter moves into production, where a whole different set of editors tidy it up and lay it out for printing.
This whole process involves lots of drafts of each chapter, but also memos, art, lists, compilations, notes, blah blah blah. We have an FTP server to hold the files, but sometimes it's down and we have to use other means (email, or drop.io for large files) to transfer files.
And so I just watched this video about cloud computing:
I feel like I'm working with a slide rule in the 1970's. I know this awesome technology exists to streamline the work we're doing, to make collaboration and editing easier, and to relieve the burden of everybody hosting multiple copies of every file. But we're just not ready for it. We have had issues with relatively simple tasks, and I know only the more tech-savvy of us will be able to learn a new system. And it only works if we all can use it.
I'm just itching to try editing a chapter in the cloud. But it's not going to happen this year, and probably not the next. It would take the whole company buying into something like the Google Apps suite, and requiring everyone to do the same. So I go back to my slide rule (MS Word), and I wait for today's technology.