One of the things that I’ve learned in the last few years is that there isn’t anyone I have met who does not know more than I do about at least one thing. The topic itself may vary (technology, life, marriage, spirituality, politics or even identifying what ran into my car most recently) but in all cases there is someone out there who knows more than I do on on at least one topic.

This also applies when focusing on an area of specialization. I am a Microsoft Operations Manager geek. I am at the point in my life where from a technical perspective I am living and breathing this particular technology on a daily basis. However, I am well aware that even within a specific technology there are people who truly alpha-geeks in an area within that technology. Within Operations Manager there are guys who know a lot more about management pack development, targeting, scripting in OpsMgr, ACS and other topics.

So what the heck does that have to do with community written books?

Over the last year a group of us who had written on System Center Operations Manager 2007 Unleashed (www.tinyurl.com/27mqnm) came to the conclusion that there was enough new stuff within Operations Manager 2007 R2 to justify writing a book on what is new in the R2 release. We originally were going to take our four core authors, map out what was new in R2 and divide and hopefully conquer. We didn’t think it made sense to revise the current book to cover the content because the original book was comprehensive for the original product so we decided to write a supplement to the original book which would cover R2.

So what the heck does that have to do with community written books?

I’m getting there I promise. As a group we decided to try something different on this book. Instead of just writing on what was new in R2 we decided to also delve into where the community had evolved the product since the original book had been written. To make this happen, we went into the community and sought out the best of the best in their specific areas of subject matter expertise. We brought in SME’s in targeting, management pack authoring, ACS and other areas. In total this book was directly written by almost a dozen different authors or contributors who physically spanned the globe. We also received technical input and reference technical blogs which also span the globe. What I eventually realized is what should be readily apparent by now – this book was written by the community for the community.

Technology adapts quickly, and people who focus on a specific aspect of technology can quickly become the go-to-SME in that technology. With blogging people are sharing new developments more quickly and others can build on those advancements. A community written book (shepherded by a lead author for coordination) may make a lot of sense as a model for the technical book industry.

Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 Unleashed is currently (and unofficially) estimated to be available in mid-March so about 40 days from now we’ll see what the feedback is on this concept. Regardless of how it goes, it’s been an incredible experience being part of this technical community and to have the opportunity to work with such incredibly talented people who are part of it.