I’m currently compiling the index for my VLE book. I could have had a professional indexer do it, but that would come out of royalties, which are scant enough, so I thought I’d do it myself (there are times when academic publishing veers perilously close to vanity publishing). I figured as I knew the content it wouldn’t take me long, right?
Wrong. It is an arduous process, but that aside it reveals four things:
i) Why do I include some terms and not others? One is placed in the position of having to guess what readers will want to find in an index.
ii) Do a search for a term is problematic for a writer as it surfaces the terms you use excessively. The next time I write a sentence with the word ‘community’ in it, I’ll be paralysed because I went through the word count in the book.
iii) It also reveals some interesting things about the content, sort of like a primitive form of data-mining. For instance, does it highlight a basic bias in myself or the book that ‘content’ had roughly twice the occurrences of ‘dialogue’?
iv) It made me yearn for a web 2.0 social index instead of my top down one. Alas I don’t think the publishers will let me release it for bookmarking by a community (damn, there I go again).