Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why Contribute to WebGL Insights

To expand on the recently announced call for authors for WebGL Insights, I've put together some reasons to contribute a chapter. I imagine these apply to all books of this style, they are from our experience with OpenGL Insights.

1. Share and gain knowledge

Perhaps the most prominent reason to contribute is to share knowledge with the WebGL developer community. It's satisfying to help other developers and writing helps us gain a clearer and deeper understanding of our topic. Every time I write or teach, I come away with a better understanding. I hope everyone will have the same experience with WebGL Insights.

2. Push forward the state-of-the-art

Although WebGL Insights is not intended to be a collection of research articles, I believe it will represent the state-of-the-art of what is being done with WebGL. Contributing to this helps move the community forward as we build on prior work.

3. Meet people

In OpenGL Insights, we built a fantastic contributor community during the writing and editing process. I expect the same to happen with WebGL Insights. Once we finish our draft chapters for WebGL Insights, they will be made available to all contributors for technical review. This, of course, improves the quality of our chapters, but is also a great way to meet other developers.

When WebGL Insights is released at SIGGRAPH, we'll have a book signing at the CRC Press booth where all contributors are invited to sign books. This was a lot of fun for OpenGL Insights.

4. Get feedback on your work

In addition to peer-reviews from other contributors, we invite external reviewers to provide feedback on our work. I will also review all chapters. In OpenGL Insights, each chapter enjoyed 2-7 reviews.

5. Get into writing

In my experience, writing an entire book is a nearly full-time year-long project. Writing a chapter for WebGL Insights will probably take two weeks full-time including revising based on reviewer feedback and reviewing final proofs after the publisher does copyediting and layout. Contributing to WebGL Insights is a low commitment way to see what it is like to write a book with a publisher, and an opportunity to build a relationship with one.

6. Exposure and credibility

If you need to convince your employer that contributing to WebGL Insights is in their best interest, it is worth mentioning to them that it will provide exposure for their project. For example, if your WebGL engine has a nice post-processing framework and you write a chapter about the design details, developers may start looking at your engine as leading the way in post-processing. In addition, a WebGL Insights chapter comes with credibility since proposals and chapters are peer-reviewed.

7. Fun

All of these reasons make WebGL Insights a fun project to contribute to. Sharing knowledge is fun. The sense of pushing forward the state-of-the-art is fun. Meeting people is fun. It's all fun.

Compensation - I'm often asked if there is any compensation. This isn't a big motivating reason to contribute, but there is compensation. Contributors receive royalties by splitting a percentage of the publisher's net receipts, e.g., what the book sells to Amazon for, not what Amazon charges. It's some money but not a ton. Many employers will also let contributors write their chapter during work hours.

Check out the call for authors. Even if you don't want to submit a proposal, I appreciate your help spreading the word.