Thursday, November 09, 2006

The impact of Web 2.0

I recently accepted the post of World Literature Editor on a voluntary basis at Poet's Letter and wrote a couple of pieces for the next issue, one for print and one for web. It seems apt that I share the piece I wrote for the web on the blog:

The world of Web 2.0 is changing everything as it blurs economic reality in a way not experienced since 1998 and hands the power over to anyone with the dedication to press the upload button.

In response to the billion dollar deals of Google and YouTube there is a growing appreciation that the web is becoming human and the power to generate thousands of hits and grab the headlines is now in the hands of the dedicated individual.

Things are moving fast and the impact that all of this personal content could have on the literary world is only just starting to be seen.

Pop stars have been discovered in their basements, bands gaining worldwide fame after their self promotion on MySpace leaving the world waiting for its first signs of a talented writer using the web to sidestep traditional routes into publishing.

Apart from the aspiring writer that other community that are handed tools in the faster web world are the readers, that get a chance to interact with literature in a way that at the moment is done in a group setting.

In a recent lecture to promote his book How to Read A Novel, John Sutherland told an assembled audience that there had never been a period with more interaction between a reader and an author.

He listed reading groups, book festivals and the power of fan fiction as examples of the growing interaction but a glaring omission from his list was the growing influence of the lit bloggers.

Growing in number and able to discuss books in a very personal way the bloggers are starting to generate the sort of traffic and interest that would make national newspaper book sections start looking over their shoulders.

Literary blogging is usually done by one person with a personal viewpoint on the world of books. But by taking content from a number of sources these bloggers are able to make the Internet a much more level playing field and in the new era of the web the human network has the potential to make us all book reviewers and hand us the chance to comment on releases and authors.

With faster broadband speeds the Internet is going to get used in different ways and the world of literature should be braced for change as the way books are written, recommended as well as purchased is all going to evolve in the future.

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