Online writing does not exist.

According to Caroline Overington, it's a bubble without substance. Peter Craven says anything published soley online has no credibility, it will shrivel...


Join the discussion at Crikey.com.au


http://www.crikey.com.au/crikey-weekender/29102010.html?source=cmailer


The articles read like an essay on "textbook" bias. Neither of the two commenters have anything more substantial to say than flowery, pompous versions of "The internet is teh suck!!!1". So married are they to their points of view that in many cases they stop bothering to even make sense. My favorite part is the delightfully archaic "The internet is just a fad" cliche referenced by the "bubble" analogy. They simply don't know what they're talking about.


They would have been much better served to assert that the readership of the Meanjin might not migrate to the web because of bias. Or they might have referenced political machinations likely responsible for the decision... really anything would have had more substance.


The dinosaurs roar as the asteroid approacheth. ;)


flowery, pompous versions of "The internet is teh suck!!!1"


Ha ha I love it!


Uh-huh. The Internet's full of a bunch of loser writers who write for the Web because they don't have what it takes to make it in print publishing.



*snicker*



(I'm grinning, by the way.)


It's funny. The only way I can parse that, to understand the mindset of people who say online writing will never take off, is on the presumption that they think average readers are like them. That average readers respect industry conventions and will base their habits around them.


I can't imagine _why_ anyone would think that nowadays, though. If the internet has taught us anything in its brief history, of which it's provided fresh examples over and over again, it's that the old rules and ways of doing things aren't always so ironclad. Net users tend not to give a shit about the weird hierarchy that's sprung up around publishing. Accessibility used to be the gatekeeper -- how little companies and individual authors simply couldn't afford to reach far enough through the old channels of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV -- but here there are no such financial barriers.


If your average net user finds something they like, they'll read it. The only struggle now is for visibility. Money helps there, but it's by no means the only way you can gain visibility, and there's nothing so obscure that it can't find a supporter on the internet.


Regards,

Ryan


I dunno - most people I know, including pretty much every writer among them (I finished a creative writing degree a couple of years ago, so these are grads in their early twenties!) has no faith in online writing. They see it as "you do it the traditional way, or you're nothing more than a fanfic writer". A number of the writer-types refuse to do things any other way, fearing the negative reaction they'd get, and because the traditional way is the only path to being accepted. Hell, I get a number of snarky, derisive comments from friends about what I do, and very little in terms of support/encouragement XD


On the other hand, I did inspire one couple to publish through Amazon, which they've had some success with, so it's not all bad!


The onward march of the e-readers should be the writing on the wall for anyone who's paying attention. There is no doubt that the marketplace is changing, immensely, right now. E-book sales are projected to overtake print sales in the next few years. Borders is about to give up its last gasp, Barnes & Noble isn't far behind, and the whole publishing industry is currently being turned on its head. Small companies are getting their toes in the door from every side while the big boys are faced with a very hard choice: adapt or die.


This is a view shared by an ever-growing number of working writers and professionals. About six months ago I sat on a panel next to Jerry Pournelle (yes, that Pournelle) and Danielle Helm (Helm Publishing) both saying the same damn thing. In this market, anything has become possible.


I write online, and it's not fucking fanfic. I don't self-publish. I have a readership which I worked hard and fought for. I have a legitimate publishing contract and some damn fine books for sale because I dared to put them online first. Anyone who wants to argue that with me had better bring something a lot harder than mere snobbery to back them up.


I'm considering turning these posts into an article of some sort. Does anyone have any further examples of sillyness or anything else I should rant about? ;)


Regards,

Ryan


I think "anyone who's paying attention" sums it up. I've not met many people who know what an e-reader or e-book actually is. Those who do have no interest in the concept ("I can't read them in the bath," "It's not a book unless I can feel it,"), and the idea of self-publishing retains the same stigma.


Yet I've never seen anyone get so elitist over unsigned bands releasing their own music, independent video games/films, or webcomics. In fact, if anything, such things are championed for going against the commercial grain.


Then again, I don't know very many people who actually read, let alone own any books. Those that do either consider it an intellectual pursuit, or only read something when it's popular and everyone else is reading it.


The way I read these articles, the "does not exist" complaint is that Web sites are ephemeral; they don't exist physically and can completely disappear at any time and without warning. They're not being archived as print publications are. I used to work in a library; we had newspaper articles (in microform) back to, as I recall, 1885. We had a special reel of microfilm--very popular--which was a collection of contemporary articles about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.


The Internet's not like that. Caroline Overington, as quoted in the Crikey article, says "If something exists only online, it's like a bubble blown by a child: shiny, maybe even delightful, but flimsy, soon gone." She's all too correct. We all know of sites that have disappeared. Meanjin in hard copy has been the sort of publication that's been archived--one you can find in libraries--and with a move to net-only this will no longer be the case.


As to the "internet is teh suck" remarks above, well, there's not much writing on the 'net that can actually compete with a publication that "functioned as a who's who of the Australian literary and intellectual worlds," is there? Be honest, now.


We also don't have a firsthand account of what happened and what issues were involved. I suspect Cunningham didn't appreciate being given such an order and simply told to comply. This sometimes happens with good workers who have standards and/or options. Future bosses, take note.


--Shelley


...Neither of the two commenters have anything more substantial to say than flowery, pompous versions of "The internet is teh suck!!!1"


Seriously. "...No one who cares about the literary and intellectual history of this nation wants this to disappear into the evanescence of the internet"? Who says this kind of stuff? 9.9 Not to mention all the respectable blogs that have made a name for themselves on the internet, like Jezebel (Well, when they're talking about feminism anyway... not so much gossip and pop culture) and Salon.


I dunno - most people I know, including pretty much every writer among them (I finished a creative writing degree a couple of years ago, so these are grads in their early twenties!) has no faith in online writing. They see it as "you do it the traditional way, or you're nothing more than a fanfic writer". A number of the writer-types refuse to do things any other way, fearing the negative reaction they'd get, and because the traditional way is the only path to being accepted. Hell, I get a number of snarky, derisive comments from friends about what I do, and very little in terms of support/encouragement XD


I definitely know what you mean. I have a "real" book I'm trying to get published in addition to the web serial I currently have running... guess which people seem more enthusiastic about. Still, publishing the traditional way may give you more legitimacy, but the irony is that if you actually manage to get a decent (not even an great--just decent) readership going on a blog with ads and some of your readers pick up hard copies of your book or merch, your chances of making some money are still better than they are even if you get picked up by a publisher in some cases. When my husband and I were doing the math on what my return might be if I got picked up with a small advance, we were looking at possibly as low as 5,000 dollars. 5,000 dollars for something I spent days and days on? And if you write short fiction, forget it. Then you're looking at between 5 cents a word and $60 a story. No one can eat on that.


So while people may be derisive of web fiction, if you look at it in terms of the money you get instead of the legitimacy... online fiction starts to look pretty good. Of course, that assumes you have at least a little success and are running ads.


The Internet's not like that. Caroline Overington, as quoted in the Crikey article, says "If something exists only online, it's like a bubble blown by a child: shiny, maybe even delightful, but flimsy, soon gone." She's all too correct. We all know of sites that have disappeared. Meanjin in hard copy has been the sort of publication that's been archived--one you can find in libraries--and with a move to net-only this will no longer be the case.


Well, this isn't exactly true. In the case of a scholarly journal like Meanjin, it will almost certainly be archived on their site and on several libraries' online databases, where you can (and I have when researching college papers in the past) find tons of archived articles. In fact, I've found far more relevant articles on any given research topic on online databases than I have on microfilms or even in books. And that's not even mentioning http://www.archive.org , or archived copies that might you might be able to find on someone's individual site (like this copy of "Sorry, Marge" I found for a paper I wrote on the author's page, which original appeared in Meanjin -- http://gyorgyscrinis.com/ )...


but I suppose in the event of a zombie apocalypse where all digital records are destroyed, yes, it would be harder to track down a back copy of Meanjin. ;-)


Also it should be noted that, like online writing, my hairline does not exsist.


SD, a LOT of people are publishing their internet material physically as well, often in the form of a vanity press, but still. In addition, there is a lot more permanence than their used to be, archives that individuals keep, the way back machine, google cache. I could remove everything I've ever posted to the internet today from where I posted it, and it would take me about an hour to put it all back together from automatic processes running on the internet.


SD, a LOT of people are publishing their internet material physically as well, often in the form of a vanity press, but still.


Yes, I'm doing both myself. The problem at Meanjin is that it's being forced to go net-only. Which wouldn't be so bad if there were a reliable and comprehensive archive somewhere, run by an organization with sufficient funding and a real commitment to keeping their materials safe, well-maintained, and permanently available to the public. I don't know of any such archive for web-published fiction, long-standing university publications included.


In the case of a scholarly journal like Meanjin, it will almost certainly be archived on their site and on several libraries' online databases, where you can (and I have when researching college papers in the past) find tons of archived articles.


It'll be archived on their site as long as some kind of funding and interest remain. And Meanjin has already suffered at least one funding cut. Archives have to be kept up and maintained; this means ongoing expense. Content providers are at the mercy of their hosts and of whoever updates their external links, html, etc. And it's worse for fiction than for scientific articles and things of that sort; the arts tend to be regarded as less important.


Libraries maintaining online archives? There's a ray of hope! Which libraries are these? Can you point me to examples? I don't think the ones around here can afford that; they've been having to cut hours, staff, etc.


And that's not even mentioning http://www.archive.org , or archived copies that might you might be able to find on someone's individual site


I could remove everything I've ever posted to the internet today from where I posted it, and it would take me about an hour to put it all back together from automatic processes running on the internet.


I couldn't. Actually the Wayback machine (archive.org) looks basically broken; it doesn't seem to have done much crawling since 2009. Parts of my story which have been on my site since 2006 are not in their database. The new beta version of the archive might not look that bad; if you ask for something newer they'll redirect you to the current site and put up a note at the top of the page to say that they'll crawl the site and add it in a few months. But if my site disappeared tomorrow, much of it would just be gone.


--Shelley


This was exactly the reaction that print comic artists had for web comics around 1999-2002. Now instead of dismissing online comics, they're attacking it as destroying their market. So... that's something for everyone to look forward to!


Libraries maintaining online archives? There's a ray of hope! Which libraries are these? Can you point me to examples? I don't think the ones around here can afford that; they've been having to cut hours, staff, etc.



I'm mostly talking about college libraries. There's actually sites that these libraries "subscribe" to that archive the articles. My own former college, St. Michael's, has a list--BY SUBJECT--of all the different article database sites:


http://smcvt.edu/library/databases/subject/default.asp


The one I remember using the most when I was in college (I was a Lit major) was JSTOR. In the case of JSTOR, they have articles archived back from 1665, articles that most college students would never get their hands on if it wasn't for those new-fangled INTERWEBZ.


Even just talking about storing humanities related articles and images, there's also projectMUSE and ARTstor, both of which I remember using.


Fun related topics:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_digital_preservation_initiatives

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_preservation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Million_Book_Project


OMG. This is the first time I've heard of the way back machine, and that was WAY too much fun. I found an old copy of Larkenia's Flaws that I'd thought I'd lost when my site had gone down. Totally awesome! *goes back and right click+saves all of the old pages*


Ahem. That said, I'm kinda 'eh' about the web fiction haters. I just don't take them seriously. Haters are gonna hate, and all of that.


People were saying that there was no market for e-fiction for as long as I can remember it existing. Thinking of e-books and blogs, in particular, I remember that for years people said that they were silly and ephemeral, that no real author would write them, etc. And then suddenly the Kindle and other big name e-readers came out and now many of the big name bookstores are trying to cater to them (if they don't have one of their own out, already). Suddenly every local newspaper in my area has a website with e-articles and blogs, to the point where they're cutting down on hard copies of the paper and focusing on the internet version.


As for things disappearing once their gone: I just don't think it's that simple (as the Larkenia instance above shows). I've known authors who've taken their work offline for various reasons, only to have it passed around decades later by people in docs, pdfs, htmls, etc. I've seen fans rally together to post websites and create archives for things that would've otherwise been lost, and I've seen websites that have been abandoned a decade ago standing strong today.


Even if the internet were to shut down tomorrow, I'd still have copies of some of my favorite web fiction saved to things like my e-reader, phone, and computer for reading at a later time. I know that many of my friends do the same thing.


When one of my websites went down a year ago, with my computer dying shortly after, I was at a loss, until a reader sent me docs she'd saved of all of the chapters of my stories, so that I could be back at square one. It was so awesome. *shrugs*


Now, <i>finding</i> things can be a bit tougher when URLS switch, or when content is removed altogether. But, as someone who's looked for rare and out of print books before, I have always felt that it can be just as frustrating searching for print or electronic works.


Mind you, I'm not saying that all electronic works are well archived. Many websites will come and go with nobody noticing. But then again, I think that many print works come and go without significant fanfare, as well.


Is a long-term archive something WFG should offer?


Note: I've posted a similar question to the nascent Web Fiction Writers Guild, as something it might do: http://groups.google.com/group/webfictionwritersguild/browse_thread/thread/c2a94797b9ba688d


Chris.


This was exactly the reaction that print comic artists had for web comics around 1999-2002. Now instead of dismissing online comics, they're attacking it as destroying their market. So... that's something for everyone to look forward to!


That's odd. In all the stories I hear about print comic artists, they're always very supportive of the aspiring and up-and-coming, in whatever format. Is there something no one's telling me?