Rickard Falkvinge: New Book Swarmwise Now Available

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Rickard Falkvinge
Rickard Falkvinge

Book Launch: SWARMWISE

Swarm Management:  After four years of work, the leadership book Swarmwise is finally published. It is a book filled to the brim with the experience from leading the Swedish Pirate Party from zero into the European Parliament, spreading the movement to 70 countries, and most importantly, beating the competition on less than one percent of their budget – being over two orders of magnitude more cost-efficient. It is available as a paperback and a PDF, with more formats to come.

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Yesterday afternoon, I hit the “publish” button, and as of this morning, the book is available on Amazon (US, UK, DE, FR). It is also available as a PDF for free sharing (download and torrent). This is the culmination of four years of work, after I decided to write down and share my experiences with forming, leading, and winning with a swarm-style community.

The book doesn’t go into theoretical detail, psychology, or deep research papers. Rather, it is very hands-on leadership advice from pure experience – it covers everything from how you give instructions to new activists about handing out flyers in the street, up to and including how you communicate with TV stations and organize hundreds of thousands of people in a coherent swarm. Above all, it focuses on the cost-efficiency of the swarm structure, and is a tactical instruction manual for anybody who wants to dropkick their competition completely – no matter whether their game is business, social, or political.

A rough listing of the topics in the ten chapters would say that the book covers the concept of a swarm, how to launch one, how to get it organized to cover the streets, how to stage effective street rallies, how to use the swarm for getting the message out in social ways they don’t teach you at marketing school, how to make people and the swarm stay on target, how to resolve conflicts, how to maintain leadership in times of crazy growth, advanced swarm techniques with social media, how to manage oldmedia (TV/radio/newspapers), how to manage your own success, and tons, tons more. Overall, I haven’t seen the contents of this book anywhere else, so I felt it needed to be written.

For those of you who want to translate the book into more languages, here’s the package with the sources (OpenDocument format). If you want to translate for noncommercial use and sharing, go right ahead without asking me. If you want to sell your translation, however, you need to stick to the exact layout of the original book, have proper proofreading/editing, and contact me for a revenue-sharing agreement for the duration of the (radically shortened) copyright monopoly term; I’d love to see many such translations side by side on Amazon. (Sticking to the same layout is appreciated even for noncommercial translations, by the way.) Be aware that it probably won’t sell to make anybody rich, though; that’s not its purpose.

I’ve been posting one chapter a month here on falkvinge.net, with the first chapter here. The next chapter to be posted is chapter 7, which will be posted August 1. However, there are passages in the book that are not in the posted chapters – there are stories and anecdotes in-between the chapters on leadership that gives a sense of the fantastic progression toward success.

Here’s one such book-only passage that I’m posting to celebrate the actual launch of the book. Enjoy it while I take a sip from a well-earned glass of my favorite Italian bubbles.


June 7, 2009, at 10:00 p.m. sharp.

I’m at the election night dinner. Where 2006 had been a small restaurant, this is a ballroom. One entire wall of the short end is a screen showing the public service television’s election night coverage, including the much-anticipated exit polls.

In 2006, there had been one Finnish reporter on location. This time, TV crews are lining one entire long wall. Not just Swedish crews, either — crews from all of Europe are here, much to the surprise of the Swedish crews. I have given preference to ten media outlets for phone calls during the night: Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, BBC, CNN, al-Jazeera, Techdirt, Wired, Numérama, and TorrentFreak. Everybody else will have to be on-site.

I’m seated center table and front, as is appropriate for the party leader. There are 150, maybe 200 people here, plus a ton of reporters. Seated close to me are Christian Engström, our list-topper for the election, and Rickard “Richie” Olsson, my longtime friend who was the first to know of the party and is now its CTO. Amelia Andersdotter, the second from top on the pirate ballot, is attending another election dinner in her own part of the country. The countdown to the presentation of exit poll results approaches zero. This is it. People start counting — no, shouting — seconds aloud.

TEN, NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN…

In a final display of uncertainty, I grab the mike and say over the PA, “Remember that these numbers don’t include the advance votes.” That uncertainty will prove to be unnecessary within a few seconds.

Some thirty cameras are trained on me from the end of the table, in three rows, as the results start coming up on screen. Moderates blah blah, Center party blah blah, Blah party blah blah. Bar after bar comes up. My pulse must be hitting 180 by this point, and I’m just waiting for the verdict.

“The Pirate Party. Seven percent.”

The crowd erupts. The roof lifts. From the end of the table, flashes of light like crazy toward me from the three rows of cameras. The loud joy in the room is so intense you can taste it. My mind races — all this tension built up over three years just releases in an instant. I feel myself putting one hand over my mouth and tears welling up in my eyes as I look at the Pirate Party bar on the exit polls, our election victory secured. Minutes later, that picture of a teary-eyed party leader fronts all newspaper websites in the country.

Having seen the optimistic numbers in polls while logically calculating the almost-certain odds, and actually winning seats on election night, turn out to be two completely different experiences. The first was a logical calculation. The second is overwhelming emotion.

I realize that I must compose myself and address the people present about our phenomenal success, so I go up on stage to cheers and whistles. I tell my dear colleagues that today marks a day when a new generation starts reclaiming their civil liberties, and how this will send shockwaves around the world, and then bring out a surprise I’ve prepared. I say, we’ve all seen our party’s polo shirts and jackets with the logo and a function on the back — we’ve been having uniformlike clothing for recognizability, clothes that have said things like “Piratpartiet, District Lead” or “Piratpartiet, Media Service” on the back for our go-to people. I say that the occasion calls for an entirely new line of clothing, and ask Christian Engström to come on stage.

As he comes up on stage, I bring out a fresh, crisp jacket saying “Piratpartiet, Member of European Parliament” on the back, and show it to the crowd. Cheers erupt. “Congratulations, Christian,” I say as I hand it to him. The crowd goes wild. “Chris-tian! Chris-tian! Chris-tian!“

TV crews form lines to get comments from Christian Engström and me. Once the majority of reporter crews have what they need from me, I finally sit down to eat my dinner. This time, I don’t care if it’s gone cold while I’ve been on official duty. As I eat, a curious thought crosses my mind. Sweden has eighteen seats in the European Parliament, but it’s being extended to twenty seats two months from this election. Out of the eighteen seats from Sweden, we’re projected to get one. So out of curiosity, I start running tonight’s numbers on the Election Authority’s online simulation as to who will get seats nineteen and twenty two months out, seats also determined in this election — those two people will only take office slightly later.

I run the numbers. I blink. I double-check the numbers. I retype them and run them again, getting the same result. I check the numbers again. No, there’s no mistake. I smile, grab the microphone, and take to the stage.

“Dear colleagues,” I say, “as you know, we’re likely sending Christian to Brussels once the votes have been finally counted. These votes say we’re getting a seat in the European Parliament.” People cheer. “But Sweden is getting two more seats in the European Parliament in two months, going from eighteen to twenty seats, and those two seats aren’t displayed on these results. I just ran the numbers to find out who’s going to get seat nineteen and twenty.” I smile and look out across the room.

“We’re sending Amelia to Brussels, too!“

The crowd erupts. The roof lifts. Again.