It’s not just print that faces obsolescence. It’s fiction itself.
The quote from which this post takes its title is by William Gibson, writer of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in a Wired article from June, 2005. He writes:
“Today's audience isn't listening at all - it's participating. Indeed, audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.”
It’s cliché to say that the future is headed in the direction of recombinant, reused, rehashed, remade reality. Process (making the YouTube video) has vastly outpaced the value and quality of the product (a good video) itself. The modes of creative production are inherently more interesting than creative itself.
In other words, we are at a juncture in history where a fiction ‘inventor’ is just as intrinsically important to creative invention as a fiction ‘cut-and-paster’ or fiction ‘developer’ who can aggregate pieces of reality into a pastiche.
In other words, you don’t need to be a writer to make writing. You need to be an aggregator.
A collector of interesting things. And then make interesting, aggregated content. More now than ever before in history. It’s silly to debate intellectual property. That ship has sailed. Twitter is one continuous retweet.
When was the last time you were content to wallow in someone else’s fictive world? The skills of a true original content creator (or ‘fiction writer’) have been democratized. Steven Johnson, founder of Feed magazine and an outspoken cheerleader of digital production writes, “one of the great joys of book reading — the total immersion in another world, or in the world of the author’s ideas — will be compromised.” And that compromise comes at the opportunity we all have to live in that world of ideas. Yet, at the same time, fiction is all we have that’s truly our own. Reality belongs to whoever can grab the most.
We all own the words. We all own culture, music, film and art. It’s terrific and unfortunate at the same time. And as content is slowly, incrementally replaced with ‘versions’ of reality, the author, inventor and creator is left to yell into the wind.