Developing

Naked Writer launches world’s first “cloud-sourced” novel

'Naked Writer' Silvia Hartmann launched the world's first "cloud-sourced" novel last month (19 December) at the headquarters of the company whose software made it possible.

Speaking from Google's London HQ, Hartmann praised Google Docs, the collaborative word processing tool, which had allowed her to write her latest fantasy fiction, 'Dragon Lords', live online - a literary world-first.

But setting records wasn't the initial idea, she explained.

"The idea came about originally from using Google Docs for business. It wasn't a publicity idea for the book, it was the other way around.

"The technology created the idea for the project which created the book."

The project, dubbed 'The Naked Writer', saw Hartman spend eight and a half weeks, in daily 90-minute sessions, writing 'Dragon Lords', under the digital gaze of fans and followers from around the world.

More than 13,000 people from locations including the UK, US, Brazil, Malaysia, Russia, Australia and New Zealand took part in the project, reading the manuscript as it was typed in real time, adding comments and helping to influence the plot.

"This project wasn't easy, but people were by my side," Hartmann said, "I really had the sense that we were in a collaborative endeavour, that people were on my side and trying to help, and that was awesome."

That collaboration went as far as UK-based William Taylor suggesting the name for the book, and German contributor Maximilian Baumgart commenting how he wished he could be part of "this book world" and being given a cameo in the storyline.

'Dragon Lords' - available in paperback and, of course, as an e-book - tells the story of a mystery man from another time with a background steeped in the occult, his relationship with a 21st Century woman, and their battle against malign forces and foes.

The official blurb says: A hundred thousand years ago, planet Earth was sealed off from the rest of the multiverse and the great suffering began. But now, a Dragon Lord has come. It's time to change the world...

Stephen Rosenthal, of Google UK, said: "The Naked Writer project is an excellent example of the power of the cloud.

"'Dragon Lords' was written with the help of thousands of contributors on five continents, all working on the same page, at the same time, and we're delighted to be hosting the book's official launch."

Hartmann and Rosenthal were joined at the launch by 'Dragon Lords' participants from around the world, including Maximilian Baumgart, via another technological innovation, Google Hangout.

Rosenthal added: "If your company is paying for video conferencing technology, end your contract now and get on (Google Hangout) for free. It's amazing what creative things you can do."