For my first post, I thought I’d write about something I saw on Twitter. The Emerging Writers Festival is having a discussion about what the future of writing will be, and I thought I’d chime in.
The future of writing is something that we’ve been discussing for a little while now, at least the future of writing as I see it. Since the dawn of Web 2.0, there have been fan-fiction and other remix-oriented websites where anyone can go and start posting their own versions of stories with favorite characters. Remix is the key word here, as I think that is where writing is headed. If you take a look at a site called Hit Record (www.hitrecord.org), you’ll find a space where all types of artists can collaborate on different types of work: film, literature, photography, and other types of digital media. It’s a project led by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and it gives artists all over the world a chance to create content together. As Gordon-Levitt says, “Remix isn’t theft; it’s just how we work together.”
This is part of the future of writing, this collaboration, this remixing. However, for this system to truly succeed, we need a few things to happen:
- All of the walls need to come down. If we apply this concept to writers, we need to start trusting complete strangers. It’s hard enough for me to post a story I’ve written on my fiction blog, but posting it in an open forum where anyone can change it as they see fit is another story all together.
- Ownership needs to evolve. On Hit Record, all production revenue is split 50/50 – half goes to the company, and the other half gets divided among all collaborators of the project, based on the percentage of work they contributed to the project. There isn’t a fight between who did more work, who deserves more money (at least not all the time), and who the work belongs to. There is a common understanding that the work belongs to everyone, and it is a joy to create something so beautiful. There is more pride in saying, “I contributed and worked as part of a team to create something amazing,” rather than saying, “Look what I made all by myself!”
- Will writing still be a career? Yes. Popular literature by Dean Koontz and Stephanie Meyer will always be available, as will future classics such as my beloved series by J.K. Rowling. And there will always be the artists, the Margaret Atwoods as I would say. However (and perhaps this is already happening today), the majority of writers will be people in other careers who just love to write. I actually think the majority of writers will be college students and young professionals who are at the forefront of digital content creation.
To me, the future of writing looks exciting. As a future language arts teacher, I plan on pointing my students in this direction because I believe that this is the future of writing, but also because the skills required to do these projects will help them in other areas of their lives. The global community is an enticing world for writers – let us see where it takes us.