Do you "get" the internet?
Read this article: "Four People Who Don't Get the Internet", and add to the list. The same idea (with different examples) has been jostling around inside my head for a while. Mr. Miller (the author) uses the term "wild west" to describe the 'net, and I think the comparison is valid. The landscape is constantly changing...and lawlessness is the law of the land.
So, 1. what does any of this have to do with writing? 2. With the title of this post?
1. The democratizing effect of the internet has made content too cheap and easy to come by. If you haven't listened to Harlan Ellison rant about paying the author, I'll let you have a moment to head over to YouTube and watch his diatribe.
I believe author's should be paid--believe me. But the 'net has spawned so many authors and makes it relatively easy to be "published" (goodness knows I wouldn't have anything published without the internet as a resource for market research at least), that the market is flooded with plenty of folks that will work for cheap (or free). Now, it may be relatively easy to be published--relative to the publishing world before Duotrope, Ralan's, and 'net based markets--but that doesn't mean it is easy to be published in high profile, quality markets. In fact, I'd argue the opposite. Those high profile, quality markets are shrinking (e.g., Fantasy and Science Fiction has gone to a bi-monthly publication schedule...what does that tell us?).
The internet has given us more noise. So many venues for fiction, each hungering for content--my head spins sometimes just trying to understand the changing landscape. You have to have a Twitter account...you have to use Facebook...MySpace...on and on. I could spend all day doing ancillary "writing" tasks that don't actually involve writing any new fiction, and still not touch on everything.
Stop the train, I want to get off.
2. The trenches. Did you read Miller's article? Big, hungry dinosaur-like entities want to find a way for the 'net to pay them like they've been paid for the past 50+ years. Think of Michael Lynton (Sony Pictures CEO) as their representative. The old world media giants are losing footing in today's new world media landscape. Ask any sixteen-year-old if he thinks it's wrong to download music for free. Poll fifty of them.
Do you think we can swing them back to the "other side"? Nope...sorry...that battle was lost long ago. Those sixteen-year-olds are going to fashion the new media landscape.
I don't want to be an entrenched dinosaur. I don't want to ally myself with them, either. But...and this is big...I don't want to be lost in the noise of the 'net.
In the end, I have to hope that quality content will win. I hope I can fashion a "voice"--my piece of the long tail--that has a place in this wild landscape. Like it or not, I believe the importance of 'net presence is here to stay.