Friday, October 05, 2007

Is The Net Good For Writers? - 10 Zen Monkeys

There are many gems in this Q&A with 10 writers by RU Sirius. If you want to figure out the future of print, this is a great place to get some insight into the challenges and opportunities created for print, by the Web. I'll leave you to read the whole thing on your own, but here's a particular quote I could not resist, from Mark Dery:

Is The Net Good For Writers? - 10 Zen Monkeys
Shrewdly, magazines like The New Yorker understand that print fetishists want their print printy — McLuhan would have said Gutenbergian — so they're erring on the side of length, and Dave Eggers and the Cabinet people are emphasizing what print does best: exquisite paper stocks, images so luxuriously reproduced you could lower yourself into them, like a hot bath.
I've been working for a couple of years now on a system to dramatically change print production. The trite way I describe it is "to marry commercial digital print and Web 2.0,", and most people draw a predictable conclusion from that. "Oh, you are going to print blogs!" The emergence of the Web, and digital commercial presses, has created huge opportunities to revolutionize print publishing, and let me be the first to shout, "IT'S NOT ABOUT PRINTING BLOGS." Please, people, don't diminish the value of our trees by shoveling our blogs onto paper. Though we will learn that lesson soon enough -- like after printing one blog :-).

People create content with the medium in mind. Content written for print does not generally translate seamlessly to the Web, and certainly content written for the Web does not translate seamlessly to print. When print publishing is revolutionized, which I hope is soon, those who succeed first will recognize, like Mark Dery above, what is significant about the print medium, and use it to its strengths.

For instance, I predict the re-emergence of a form of print publishing that was popular more than a hundred years ago, and which can become popular again: the serialized book. This dawned on me in 2003 when I subscribed to the re-issue of Dickens' Great Expectations, by the Discovering Dickens project at Stanford University. Print publishing evolved over time to make that form of publishing impractical for various reasons. The emergence of the Web and commercial digital printing has rewritten the rules again, only the current publishing industry is not in a position to act upon these changes. I think the next installment of Great Disruptions is going to be written over the next few years.

update: Slashdotted

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