I've been playing with this idea for a Critical Futures blog post for a few days, so you'll probably see this again at some point. Still, I wanted to pose a couple of questions that have been nagging at me for a while:

  • Does the fact that we think of content as something that is becoming increasingly user generated, or generated outside of traditional professional structures, affect writers' ability to survive from an economic perspective?
  • Does this "crowd sourcing" (if you'll indulge me,) mean that everyone will think of themselves as writers henceforth? While that's potentially inspiring from the perspective of democracy, it feels hard to maintain from a literary/textual culture perspective. If everyone is a writer, is there an audience of readers for any kind of writing (fiction, critical, or non-fiction) separate from writers? If not, is there enough audience amongst fellow writers to support the project writing? (Answer: doubtful.)
  • I'm totally willing to accept that the publishing industry as we've come to know it is (and will continue) to undergo great change. At the same time, "great change," means (I think) that some practices will need to change in a fundamental sort of way. It is not enough to manipulate the length publishing schedules of periodicals in order to get them to appear profitable for a while, it's not enough to publish lots of small runs of books tight budgets that break even really fast.

These strategies delay the inevitable, but don't address several fundamental problems:

  • The group of readers (e.g. audience) is significantly smaller than the public at large. If we want to grow audiences for our books, blogs, wikis, and other (hyper?)textual products we need to enlarge the group of people who read.
  • Most people who fail read any given text on any given day, fail to do so because they didn't know it existed, and probably because they felt like they didn't have time to do so.

Largely I think these issues can be extrapolated to other forms of media, I'm just a writer and think of things in terms of essays, articles, stories, and novels.

In any case, I think the way to save the "media industry" and media creators in particular, is to figure out how to get more people to read and figure out how to improve the discovery process. Hefty challenges, for sure.

Onward and Upward!