Tagged: authors

New technology boosts the old

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As cheerleaders for incumbent media often point out, the old is rarely replaced by the new. Newspapers weren’t killed by radio, radio wasn’t killed by TV, TV wasn’t killed by online video – etc., etc.

Sometimes new technology boosts the old.

Dipping in again to the excellent Writing on the Wall: Social Media, the First 2,000 Years, I read:

Printing pushed up demand for paper throughout Europe, encouraging production and making it cheaper (its price fell by 40 percent during the fifteenth century) and more widely available. Printed books promoted literacy and writing manuals could be produced in quantity.

We can see a similar effect today with writing and books. Earlier in Writing on the Wall, Tom Standage notes that book writing was a serious undertaking in Roman times. You had to be literate, rich enough to have a dedicated cohort of slaves for scribing and couriering purposes during the research, notable enough to throw a top-notch launch party and – by some advice of the time – spend about nine years perfecting your manuscript before releasing it into the network of copyists (all reproduction was by hand, of course).

Now writing – and publishing – books is within the grasp of anyone. A cynic would say that you don’t even need that high a degree of literacy.

In the US, 391,000 books were self-published, only about a third of these were e-book only titles. In fact, an article in the Guardian notes, this figure is conservative:

The exclusion of hundreds of thousands of titles published without an ISBN, including many titles on Amazon’s Kindle store, means that the increase of 422% since 2007 this represents is likely to be an underestimate of the size of the self-publishing sector.

Rather than reach for the pessimist’s fall-back of the monkey-typewriter paradigm, recognise this for what it is – a golden age of reading and – even more – writing. New forms of media are making old forms easier for everyone to access and work with, once again.

Think clusters, not websites

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Adam Tinworth thinks that Google Authorship’s evolution could be

another major step in Google stepping away from the website as the core unit of the web, towards the page and its author – with authorship and author reputation a core part of how search works.

This is something my friend James Byford drummed into me. The web wasn’t designed to connect websites, but individual things – information, pages, paragraphs, people, objects . 

This is how we experience and use the web, for the most part. In bits.

Clusters and hubs and collections are important on the web, in terms of making things findable, their reputation more readily understood. But when thinking about online presence, a website isn’t always the best model to be thinking about. 

We nod when people talk about content ecosystems, but I’m not sure we always think about what that really means. The overlapping and interdependent complexities of reputations and networks are befuddling. We retreat to manageable, quantifiable metaphors. 

For authors: Managing your reputation online: links & resources

I’m writing an article for the Writers & Artists Yearbook about how to manage online reputation. I’ve compiled some of the links I think are useful in a Storify story (below).

Let me know if there’s anything you think I should add. Will credit suggestions in the updated Storify story and be linking to it from the article…