An Illustrated Field Guide to Our Depressing Nature (hereafter referred to as The Work ) began as a series of one-off Facebook status updates purporting to be excerpts from a forthcoming book. The excitement generated by the simple act of pretending I had a book in press suggested two key points. One, social networking platforms are an excellent and efficient means of disseminating disinformation, half-truths, and straight-up lies to your close personal friends. And two, if so many people were so easily convinced that there was a book forthcoming on the basis of a few blurbs, did it not seem at least plausible that one day there might actually be a book forthcoming?
I got on the horn to my trusted French-Swedish homme des crayons. I’d known Bjorn since he’d provided his services as a courtroom sketch artist gratis during the unpleasantness in ’06, and it was on the basis of his work that it came to light that the court reporter was on the take.
Bjorn understood the potential immediately.
B: “We must move quickly to monetize and exploit this intellectual property.”
W: “Affirmative. How are we on the legal side?”
B: “Using the format of a respected medium as a means of distributing false information is not exactly a new idea…”
W: “Yeah, Hodgman. That bastard.”
B: “I was thinking Wikipedia, actually.”
B: “Nevertheless, it’s never, to the best of my knowledge, been done with Field Guides. We just have to make sure we include that phrase somewhere, and we’re in the clear. That way, even if it has been done before, we can totally deny ripping off anyone else’s idea.”
W: “Which phrase?”
B: “‘To the best of our knowledge, we are creating an entirely original work, the like of which has never before been observed on the face of Earth.’”
And so, without further dicking around, may I present: The Work