The Bucket Brigade: A Collaborative Publishing Project

We spoke with Bud Caddell about the book he has set out to research, write, fund and publish via Kickstarter.

Strategy Director Bud Caddell recently launched a project on Kickstarter, to develop and publish the tentatively-titled book The Bucket Brigade – an evaluation of how everything in the attention economy actually works, and 10 rules to profit by it. The project caught our own attention for a few reasons – its subject matter (every agency, brand and professional we know is challenged with getting and maintaining the attention of consumers in the ‘informed’ age), scope (focus on creating products that will ultimately become part of the cultural exchange, and not just the financial) and publishing process (a true collaboration between the author and his contributors).

We had an opportunity to speak with Caddell about his inspiration for the book, what gap it may fill in the current brand/strategy dialog, and progress made thus far in securing backing and participation;

Why The Bucket Brigade?

The name of the book, which is still tentative, stems from academic work done in the field of genetic algorithms and artificial intelligence. How we understand the brain, how we build elaborate thinking algorithms, and how we study complex systems each have so much to offer brands and marketers in strategies and tactics to navigate a world of consumer behaviors predicated on human networks, crowds, and communities. Starting from that premise, the book will lead brands & marketers through becoming an active member of these sorts of networks on varying levels (brands typically only think to be the first or last position in this sort of chain) for diverse communities.

The book aims to provide brands and advertisers with 10 guidelines by which to compete in the attention economy. What resources are you tapping into to arrive at those guidelines?

I have an ambitious list of interview subjects to test these ideas on: including researchers, consultants, authors, artists, and entrepreneurs. My process is completely transparent to the backers of the project; in fact they’ve already been helping to introduce me to many of the experts on my interview list that I’m not already connected to. The majority of the money being funded through Kickstarter will be used to facilitate these interviews (travel & transcription).

If I finish 50 discussions and realize that my original premise is flawed in some way, I will publish the most useful book for my readers – and not one that simply reaffirms my world-view.

While we’re all in the business of creating, promoting and distributing products, agencies, strategists and corporations oftentimes have different day-to-day concerns and priorities (brand equity vs. short-term revenue, consumers vs. investors, for instance); do you intend for the book to be more actionable, or tailored to an audience on either side of the conversation?

My goal for the book is to apply the bucket brigade premise to many of the modern challenges of the organization, from marketing a product, distributing meaning among cultures, and even structuring the company itself. We’ve nearly broken the back of the corporation with false dichotomies that include silo-ing activities around antiquated department names and job titles (communications vs. product marketing, for instance) and considering culture a process that only happens outside of the company’s walls. I plan to concretely demonstrate that the Bucket Brigade is a way to gain alignment for the entire corporation – though marketers and brand managers will probably find the book most appealing.

This is clearly a more collaborative, crowd-sourced model for publishing a book. What other characteristics do you think will differentiate The Bucket Brigade (title TBD) from other marketing and strategy rule-books?

I wanted to create a book that was actually the product of the thinking behind it. The fact that the book is being backed my own network is incredible. I’m humbled, motivated, and eager to write the book they deserve – but funding is just the starting line. I’m bringing my network with me into the process. Backers that contribute $100 or more are recognized as Editorial Board Members and will play an active role in the overall direction of the book. So far they’re some of the smartest people I know, and I trust that together we’ll create something that can compete with what a traditional publishing house would offer – if not more. This won’t be a book written by committee, however. It will be a product designed by a think-tank of sorts.

I see you’ve exceeded your $5,000 funding goal by over $1K; congratulations. What progress have you made in enlisting contributors and collaborators on your wish-list thus far, and what other milestones are you hoping to hit?

We hit our goal of $5,000 in less than 6 days with contributions from 70 people. In addition to influencing decisions about the book from concept to creation, the Editorial Board suggests experts to interview, questions to consider, and will receive early transcripts of those interviews to review in the private community. From the interview subjects we’re considering to the members of the board itself (so far over 30 members), it’s a stellar group of thinkers to have the benefit of working with. I promise that every dollar raised will go directly to the book’s development, and every additional dollar raised means more money to conduct interviews, pay an editor, consult a designer, produce and distribute the book.

We found this to offer an example of cognitive surplus – and how it can be applied to a more focused venture. We wish Caddell well on his venture, and are curious to see the collaborative project’s final outcome. If you believe in the premise, you still have time to back the project on Kickstarter, or to participate as an Editorial Board Member.

The Bucket Brigade on Kickstarter

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