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The Media

Is the Internet Bad For Professional Writers 193

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the won't-someone-please-think-of-the-writers dept.
destinyland writes "The internet democratized writing — but has there been collateral damage? A former magazine editor asks 10 professional writers how the net has changed their profession, and even the act of writing itself. Has the net changed the demand for longer articles, or created more opportunities for more kinds of writing? It's a fascinating read that belongs in a time capsule for the variety of reactions captured — including the author who complains reading time was traded away for time to maintain our applications, and adding "Gates and Jobs...ought to be disemboweled — yes, on the internet.""
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Is the Internet Bad For Professional Writers

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  • by suso (153703) * on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:10AM (#20899097) Homepage Journal
    Has the net changed the demand for longer articles

    I think that means "Has the net increased the demand for shorter articles".
    • by ThirdPrize (938147) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:15AM (#20899163) Homepage
      Sorry, you lost me after "I think that means".
    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:24AM (#20899271)
      If writers are perceiving a lower demand for longer articles, it's probably because they break them up into 57 pages of three sentences each, with 20 second page loads in between thanks to a bunch of flash ads.
      • Re:Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rei (128717) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:17AM (#20899999) Homepage
        It's not about content length or page count. I think most people here have read long articles or other works online before. The key is that they have to be *interesting*.

        While it most certainly has its faults, the most important purpose of the publishing industry today is that it acts like a filter. There are a hundred times more people who want to be published than actually will be, and this is a sad reality of the industry and anyone who wants to write. On the other hand, it's also a benefit; publishers filter out stuff that, for the most part, simply isn't that good -- derivative, written with third-grade grammar, tedious, unrealistic, unimaginative, etc. Even the "filters" sometimes need filters; that's what agents are for. While a given publisher may accept a small fraction of one percent of what is submitted to them, your average agent may end up selling perhaps half of what they acquire. This works because it's now the agent who accepts a fraction of one percent of what they get. Many big publishers don't take unagented submissions; they use agents as a "filter" to reduce the drivel that they have to sift through to find what's good out there. Often, even the agents will use their own "filters" -- say, grad students, paid slave wages to read the incoming queries . Like this person [blogspot.com], for example.

        That said, the internet does have some developing "filtering" mechanisms -- even if nothing more than an email from a friend saying, "Hey, I read this and it was great! You have to read it!" What the internet doesn't have, currently, is a particularly effective profit mechanism for writers, even those who do have some level of popular success. And translating online success to print success is not as easy as it may at first appear. If you have a relevant website that gets tens of thousands of unique hits per day, you might be able to get a little further by citing it as "platform" (esp. important in nonfiction) in your query, but beyond that, what agents and publishers want to see is some direct "filtering" mechanism on your work -- have you won presigious contests with thousands of entrants and recognized judges, have you been published in magazines or major newspapers, have you had a book published before (and how did it sell?), and so on. They want hard evidence that someone besides your friends and family thinks that you're good. Of course, even if you don't have any worthwhile credits, you can still be published based on the merits of your writing at hand.

        At least, that's how it's supposed to work. ;)

        My biggest gripe with the publishing industry is the "inventing" of best-sellers. At regular intervals, they'll buy what they (a relatively small number of people) consider the best sales potential work out on the market by a new author in their particular field for a huge advance (6-7 figures, compared to the usual 4-5). This starts the ball rolling; the very fact that they paid a huge advance gets the critics buzzing about the work before they even know anything about it. When it comes out, they review the heck out of it. Good or bad reviews, it gets a ton of publicity. Meanwhile, the publisher plugs the heck out of it, everywhere they can. Altogether, they create enough buzz about the work that anyone who reads books in the field feels they have to read it, if only just to know what other people are talking about. The work may, in fact, be pretty lousy, but that's not the important aspect. They could sell almost anything in this manner. The same thing applies to authors who, by virtue of their name, will get published no matter what. Someone like Tom Clancy could practically write a proposal for a diatribe against tube socks on a coffee napkin and get a deal out of it before he pens a word. Simply having the author's name on the side will ensure enough sales to be worth it.

        That said, there are inherent benefits to new authors in the industry. Let's say you land a deal with
        • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

          by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:33AM (#20900195) Homepage
          My significant other switched from being CEO of a small company being a writer back in 2002, when the economy was in the tank. Now she's building another company around small-volume custom publishing, taking advantage of the changing trends in print media. She had fun being a pure writer while it lasted, but where's the money? She pays $25 for an article from 2nd-tier local writers, and $125 from the top-tier. She has unpaid interns who just want the experience so that one day they can be paid writers. Even as CEO of a small publishing company, she's making far less than she did as a regular employee at her previous high-tech job.

          I feel for writers, but their not the only ones feeling the squeeze. This morning I came up with a fairly depressing argument about where the new startups are in high-tech: practically nowhere. If you want to do a startup making chips, forget it. If you build digital, then FPGAs, microcontrollers, and DSPs have it covered on the low-end, and digital high-end ASICs are too damned expensive. Analog is just too hard, though there's some room there. If you want to do a startup in software, you've got Microsoft dominating the market, and tons of free open-source to compete with. What's that leave? The web. The big successes that quickly come to mind for new high-tech companies over the last 15 years are Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay, and Google. Not software, not chips, but something else entirely. Since all those companies started back before the web bubble burst, what's left for us geeks now?
          • Re:Translation (Score:5, Interesting)

            by orasio (188021) on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:51AM (#20900449) Homepage

            If you want to do a startup in software, you've got Microsoft dominating the market, and tons of free open-source to compete with. What's that leave? The web.
            If you are looking for fast money, sure.
            On the other hand, free software, or open source software don't have anything to do with money. Most of the money associated with software can still be had with those.
            Licenses are not everything. The catch is that in order to make money from free software, you have to actually provide a service. Implantations and consulting on other peoples software is a solid service to sell, and mostly welcome by most players. Custom developments, first level support, reselling second level support. It doesn't make you rich quick, but there's a lot of bussiness to be made. I am planning on starting a company of that sort next year in my country. I will let you know how it goes, if you want.
            • I am planning on starting a company of that sort next year in my country. I will let you know how it goes, if you want.

              I'm always interested in how founders are doing, so please do keep me informed. You have to pass the challenge question (what color is the sky?), but my public e-mail is bill@billrocks.org. I founded a small company back in 2000, and I can't complain, though we're no Google or Yahoo. Actually, we're tiny, but it still delivers what I need and I still have big hopes and dreams. I think t

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Provocateur (133110)
              I will let you know how it goes, if you want.

              Don't forget to build a garage when you start it, so that years from now we can still say, Oh, that guy? Would you believe he started his company in a garage?
          • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

            by djupedal (584558) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:10PM (#20900725)
            "Since all those companies started back before the web bubble burst, what's left for us geeks now?"

            Clearly you've been given the gift of 'imagination'. Please let us know when you intend to unwrap it and take it out of the box...
          • by crgrace (220738)
            Analog is just too hard, though there's some room there.

            Ahhh... the sweet, sweet smell of job security.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Chips are old , software is old .And even internet giants of today are a decade old . If you want a brilliant start up you have to start with tomorrow idea, not rehashing old ideas. Methinks AI and biotech will explode in next 10 years and the Googles of tomorrow are made today out of new ideas built on existing technology, competing with Intel, Microsoft or Google today is pointless.

            Of course ideas are dime a dozen, implementation matters. Have a brilliant idea and bring it first to th

          • In addition to all the other frustrations which writers are forced to endure, if you click on the "Print-friendly" link to this article [in tiny little fonts, wwwaaaaayyyyyyy down at the bottom of the page]:

            then, after enduring a couple of Javascript errors, you are automatically re-directed to an entirely different article [10zenmonkeys.com], about the 2008 presidential candidates.

            God in heaven, I hate bad code.

        • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:01PM (#20900597)

          It's not about content length or page count. I think most people here have read long articles or other works online before. The key is that they have to be *interesting*.

          I don't know about that - I can personally attest that I've stopped reading things because of the moronic pagination on the web. I read fairly quickly, and there have been many times that I simply gave up because I was spending more time watching the page load than actually reading it.

          You're right - articles on web or elsewhere have to be interesting. And a ton of page loads is one of the best ways to kill that, in my opinion. It's not web specific - what if newspapers split columns across 7 different pages and made you wait 20 seconds before you were allowed to turn the page? When I'm reading something, I don't like being interrupted, and I don't think I'm alone.

          You might think I'm exaggerating, but I've actually seen articles split into up to 10 different pages with two short paragraphs per page. I can read a couple of short paragraphs in 5-10 seconds. I don't want to get the next page every 10 seconds. I won't read it.

          • by pokerdad (1124121)

            what if newspapers split columns across 7 different pages and made you wait 20 seconds before you were allowed to turn the page?

            I hate it when newspapers split articles up (obviously they never do as badly as you say, I'm just talking about what is the industry norm). Obviously really long articles need to be split, and I have some sympathy for their efforts to cram as much as possible on to the front page, but there are some papers I used to read that might have twenty articles or more split up over the course of the paper. The ones that frustrate me most are the ones where you are flipping to some far off other page just to read

    • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:27AM (#20899315) Journal
      No, I think he meant "Increased the probability that an article will unnecessarily be split across several pages" :-P

      Seriously though, if the complaint is about blogs, try looking at the mainstream media. A lot of the their stuff makes me feel stupider for having read it. Recently an msnbc, or Time article, I forget, referred to the 1997 Kasparov defeat as being a case where a computer "whupped" a human.

      "Whupped"????

      If I had tried that in 6th grade English, I would have been sent to a torture chamber. (figuratively, of course, although by this point it's "correct" to say "literally")

      Also, they have annoying habits of using longer slang expressions where shorter, simpler ones will do: "divvy up" instead of "divide" and "cents on the dollar" instead of "percent", or even better, "%".
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        ""Whupped"????

        If I had tried that in 6th grade English, I would have been sent to a torture chamber. "

        Depends on what party of the country you're from boy.....that's a perfectly croumulent word down here.

        :-)

    • I think the same types of people who wanted longer articles 20 years ago, want them today. However, since the web is currently forcing a lot of short-article people to read, I think it simply seems like the demand is higher for shorter articles.

      With the advent of talking heads to read the short articles to them, they'll wander off to listen instead of read, and the average article length will increase again.

      On a less sardonic note; many newspapers and magazines--the people who actually produce the longer ar
      • by e2d2 (115622) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:48PM (#20901219)
        Yes but think about how hard it was to get your hands on information 30 years ago. If it wasn't in a book or magazine or trade journal you were SOL. So when you got that material you expected more bang for the buck, that's what the market brought. Fast-forward to today when it's information overload and you see the need for smaller articles, at least from a business standpoint. Then also factor in the stress that monitors put on ones eyes, with the page being lit. It's technically "harder" to read a monitor full of text than it is to read a piece of paper. So we see articles getting smaller.

        But the idea that writing is now "shorter" is a bit skewed. There is a lot more information being conveyed these days.

        • You get the same facts in 20 dinky stories, with none of the depth of a really good, well-researched story.

          Having 20 people write the same shallow story isn't "more" information. Sure, you have the resources to look the stuff up yourself. That's one of the things I like about Slashdot; everybody looks up some of it, and you actually end up with all the information.

          But without a body of knowlegable people who actually give a damn, the loss of those big articles is a pain in the ass, because no one has time t
    • Probably (Score:4, Insightful)

      by earnest murderer (888716) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:33AM (#20899387)
      It's hard to plagi^h^h^h^h^h quote an article if it is too large. More than a paragraph or so and it won't fit into the summary at Digg.

      It certainly seems that the net has created a cottage industry built on not citing the original article and driving technorati. One might say that one denies the other. The drive isn't news anymore, it's notoriety and advertising. Long articles and sources sour both of those. I don't think there's a shortage of people who want to read the long stuff, there's just so many that can't be bothered. Both groups pay the same per view, so who are you going to appeal to?

      The internet may have changed some things, but it's AdSense that is murdering information on the web. Is it any wonder that the more successful google is, the less useful their index has become.
    • by Cutriss (262920)

      I think that means "Has the net increased the demand for shorter articles".
      tl;dr
    • by cHiphead (17854)
      Somebody didn't get the memo.

      Professional writers are bad for the internet.

      And thats not just in Soviet America.
    • Re:Translation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by professionalfurryele (877225) on Monday October 08, 2007 @06:09PM (#20905007)
      A friend of my studied history at university. You know what one of her lecturers told her after her first essay.

      "No one gives a fuck what you think."

      This is exactly how I feel about modern 'Journalism' and writers. I don't want some long flowery introduction which contains no new information, and is usually designed to cloud my opinion with the authors bias. Or worse 'teases' me with a hint of what might be the case later in the article. I want the facts. If I had by way news would be in bullet points. I don't care how good you can spell, how pretty your prose is or how how wonderful you write. I want facts. I don't read the news to be given opinions or bias, I don't read it to admire how well written it is.

      I also don't care what the experts say unless they have some actual evidence to back it up. I don't want to hear 'Well if I was a betting man I'd guess that...', I want to hear 'In 1967 there was a similar incident with...'. I can make up my own mind. Write the news like the person reading it has more than 3 functional brain cells.

      To anyone thinking of going into 'Journalism' who wants to appeal to me and others like me in my generation, cut the crap. We have no patience, and it is a good thing. When we want to be entertained, we read fiction. The other day I picked up a magazine and after 3 paragraphs I gave up. After three paragraphs there wasn't a single fact. I didn't know anything about the article except about where it was written.

      I have no sympathy for 'Journalists'. If they spent half as much time actually doing real investigations, exposing all the crap that goes on in this world and less of it brown nosing themselves into cushy positions and working on their pretty prose, then they might actual out perform the bloggers.

      Even the article itself is unbelievably indirect and full of opinions without facts. Three paragraphs in and I still don't know any new information, other than some artist thinks he has an unquantifiable talent. Big wow. All artists think they have an unquantifiable talent. Eventually I find out that we are talking mostly about people who write books. Writers. Great, so am I going to find out how writers have been affected? No I'm going to get a bunch of opinions from a sample of unknown quality. Great, so I might as well go ask my mate Dave what he thinks the internet has done to writers.

      Of course this problem is indicative of a much wider one. Virtually no one who works in a field which is primarily artists know how to determine facts. And what information they do have, they have no idea how to present concisely. Half the books I read could be one third the length. You want an example of a well written factual book? I advise every Journalist to go and read 'General Relativity' by P. A. M. Dirac. It's only short, but contains a bucket of information. That is how a book should be.

      It isn't just people who write books. Take the media, we have 24 hours of non-news. They speculate and get half baked experts on to double the speculation, and don't bother to go and get any new details themselves. Save for the odd human interest story that tells you absolutely nothing about the big picture.

      Case in point, when is the White House press core going to grow a pair and ask some tough questions and demand real answers? When are we going to get reports with some real statistics in that talk about how Iraq is actually going? I shouldn't have to watch a report to congress by General Petraeus to see some actual charts and data on how things are going. Heck I know his report is going to be biased but when no one at CNN seems to know what a pie chart is and prefers to endlessly run off the same pictures of Baghdad while pointlessly speculating what am I going to do? I don't care about human interest stories. I don't care how patriotic you guys in the media think you are being. I want the facts.

      The president compares Iraq to Vietnam, I have to go to bloody Wikipedia to bring up the differences in casualty rates so I can decide for myse
  • In a word, yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Jesus (962106) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:12AM (#20899117)
    Most print publications would have known to end that title with a question mark.
    • by somersault (912633) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:19AM (#20899217) Homepage Journal
      So it should possibly be, "Are Bad Writing Good For A Internet" ?
    • by aztektum (170569)
      Maybe you were trying to be sarcastic, however I'd say it won't. At least not immediately.

      I know people in my metro area that don't even have an internet connection. They spend most of their time outside or socializing or reading an actual book. For them it doesn't justify the cost (library books are cheap).

      Second, as long as you're GOOD at it, you shouldn't have anything to worry. All the internet does is increase the signal/noise ratio from idiots having easier access, allowing them to (to paraphrase PA)
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:18AM (#20899193) Homepage Journal
    I think the opinion of "bad versus good" falls nearly directly in how in-bed the writer was with the old media. For most old media writers, their
    "bosses" had massive control over the distribution of their form of media, be in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and journals. This was a "good thing" because the pseudo-monopoly gave them more income. It was bad for advertisers because they never knew how many impressions their ads received, who received them, and what their return was.

    I'm a firm believer that the Internet is GOOD for writers. I've been a writer myself since the age of 13, and a newsletter editor since I was 18. The Internet has blown open the market for myself, and the writers I've hired to "pen" articles. We now know who reads our creations, how often they return, what they think of the articles, and even who they forwarded the articles to. Our advertisers know immediately what they're getting out of us, and they also have the ability to be selective over where they advertise and what form of advertising.

    The other plus is that we can focus on shorter articles with links to articles providing more material within our own site. I know a site has gained power with our audience when the monthly stats pop up showing the average visitor has gone 4-6 pages deep and stayed over 10 minutes on the site. That's a VERY successful site, and makes excellent income for us via advertisements from direct sponsors who also know they're getting a return.

    For many, the downside is competition, but to me this is the best thing possible. The more people that are writing about your topic, the bigger your audience grows. If you're a "top tier" writer in a given niche, your market is growing because of your competition, and they'll eventually find you. Another downside for old media authors is the lack of editors within the new media, because the financial overhead from the previous pseudo-monopoly is lost. I think there's a HUGE market for independent editors (I actually earn some money monthly editing other people's writings), but most old media editors don't like the idea of selling themselves to a large market and seem to prefer focusing on a few writers. The potential for being an editor is so large right now that I am turning away more work than I can manage (it was never meant to be an income source, but instead a form of education for me). The massive amount of corporate blogs, e-newsletters and e-journals is astonishing, and they all need outside consultants to help formulate the clearest writing and a decent SEO.

    As to supporting the application, that's bunk. I spend about 10 minutes a week TOTAL on back-end support, and I use a "do it yourself" ISP to host my sites.

    I'll write until the day I die, but most of my e-writings will continue for years after. For me, that's the ultimate profit: leaving a legacy of my opinions, teachings and ideas tomorrow and for the future.
    • I'm a firm believer that the Internet is GOOD for writers. . . . The Internet has blown open the market for myself, and the writers I've hired to "pen" articles.

      The good thing about the Internet is that it makes it easier to write for a wide audience. The bad thing is that it makes it easier to write for a wide audience, without any proofreaders or editors to catch a glaring error such as the use of the reflexive pronoun "myself", where "me" would be grammatically correct [wsu.edu]. (See also: Austin Powers [youtube.com].)

      Maybe

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Spoken like a web editor---you noticed the misuse of "myself" but not the incorrect use of a comma right next to it. :-D


        A comma separates lists of three or more things or complete independent clauses. The part after the comma here isn't a clause (though it does contain a dependent clause) in spite of the presence of a subject and verb....


        • by dada21 (163177)
          True on both (the comma and the use of myself instead of me). Slashdot's weakness (and strength) is that you can't edit your posts, and I noticed both even after previewing and then submitting. Doh.

          Luckily, I don't get paid to edit my own posts, and on the sites I do edit for my own opinion, I rely on my readers to correct me, at which point I'll go edit the article.

          I was trumped here by using "irregardless" once, and since then I have never used that non-term again. Slashdot CAN help your writing skills
        • Your discussion remind me of this excellent essay by Robert J. Samuelson entitled The Sad Fate of the Comma [msn.com].
        • Spoken like a web editor---you noticed the misuse of "myself" but not the incorrect use of a comma right next to it. :-D

          No, I simply stopped looking for errors once I'd found that one. I had what I needed to make my point.

          A comma separates lists of three or more things or complete independent clauses.

          That's not right. A comma followed by an appropriate conjunction (like "and" or "but") may separate complete independent clauses, but it can't do so alone. That's the job of the semicolon. Commas do set o

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mangastudent (718064)

        Well, with so many venues where your can write, for each you have to decide what level of quality you're going to shoot for beyond merely communicating. Slashdot postings for the most part don't demand high polish.

        Regardless, these many venues certainly encourage you to write, and that's by far the most important thing for everyone concerned. Think about it, in a period in which there were fears that the written word would die (TV and all that), instead we've got more people writing than I'm sure in any

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geeknado (1117395)
      I agree with you on many points, but I've had a related concern knocking in my brain for the last few years...Does the internet make writers less hungry, and thus less likely to grow?

      The internet is the ultimate matchmaker for even the most outlandish fringe groups. It's therefore very possible to find yourself a very receptive audience of, say, 100 people who'll rave about your work if it's targeted properly. It can be very affirming, and that's wonderful, but it also presents a problem...Writers grow thro

  • meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:18AM (#20899199) Homepage Journal
    it's always been tough to be a professional writer. i can't think of any given time in history where the number of people who could live solely off the income of writing hasn't been insignificant in comparison to the total population.
     
    the internet is just new technology that will help in some ways and hurt in other ways. me, i'm not concerned about this dinky little group. my concern is - how has it impacted the reader. there have always been many more of us than the writers. have we been benefited by the internet? i think so.
    • Re:meh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother AT optonline DOT net> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:45AM (#20899547) Journal

      But as tough as it may be for the professional writer, it can be a boon for the unpublished writer. I've spent a while editing and publishing science fiction, and I can say honestly that with so few professional outlets for new writers, the Internet provides a gateway for them to get noticed. Mind you, it also allows a lot of dreck to be published that has no business lighting up pixels, but that's the price you pay for the freedom to publish.

      • I think so as well. Sure there is some crud, but there was real bad writing out there before the internet too. The volume of both has gone up and I guess the reader has some more work to do filtering it, but I don't mind. I'd rather be the one doing the filtering than a handful of big publishing houses.

        And it's not like it's all bad for the pros. My favorite new author right now (new to me) is John Scalzi. I found about him because Amazon recommended Old Man's War [wikipedia.org] to me. I've found a lot more
  • Fucking whiners. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:18AM (#20899201)
    This entire article is the equivalent of a bunch of whining, wanking carpenters complaining that people can resort to do-it-yourself for many home projects these days or that "regular people" have video cameras at home and not just big film directors.

    Yes, the internet has made a lot of people much stupider (witness your average idiot's abbreviated text message session) but the probability of such people being consumers of quality magazine or book content is low to begin with, even if the internet doesn't exist.
    • Re:Fucking whiners. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ben4242 (836284) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:18PM (#20900829) Homepage
      In June, I attended Book Expo America in New York. This is billed as the largest book-publishing event in the U.S., with many other countries sending representatives as well. Besides the thousands of booths, there are a number of seminars and talks about various things dealing with the industry. It seemed to me that one out of every four mini-conferences dealt with whether or not book publishing would be hurt by the Internet. I agree with many of the posters here that say good writers won't be hurt, but bad writers will be. I admit that I don't know a ton about the book publishing industry, but seeing how it works (I published a book two years ago, and I'm working on my second one now), it's pretty ridiculous how some things get mass-produced, while others aren't considered at all. From what I gather, most old-school publishing people are scared by the Internet. Many new authors are not, however, which leads me to believe that eventually, like most industries, a new way will replace the old. It's amazing to me how few authors have any web presence whatsoever. Explaining reciprocal links to some authors is painful. To me, it's not just a matter of being a good or bad writer. It's also about having the drive to market yourself in the proper way and get your name out. You can dispute whether or not John Grisham is a good author. But the man reportedly sold books from his car trunk to find an audience. That's separate from writing.
    • by Rakishi (759894)

      Yes, the internet has made a lot of people much stupider (witness your average idiot's abbreviated text message session)
      People have always been stupid, the internet has done nothing to change that.
  • The ads on the side of the article might not be safe for work depending on how strict things are.
    • I keep hearing about these things but so far I have yet to spot them. I wonder what they are like...

      ...

      ...

      Gee, might that have something to do with the article? Not just people like me blocking ads (privoxy and squid) but including people like you with their notsafeforwork attitude.

      IF you write an article in playboy (yes they do have them) then you can include ads to pay for that that are slightly more risky. IF you write a very similar piece but publish it on the net, well then it better be safe for wo

      • by Dragon Bait (997809) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:45AM (#20899541)

        IF you write a very similar piece but publish it on the net, well then it better be safe for work and kids and right wingers.
        You forgot to mention the left wing censorship. Pornographic material, or even semi-pornographic material is censored in the work place because of NOW, Anita Hill, and others associated with the left. I know, I know, those of us on the left don't want to admit that we censor things too. It's just a question of who gets to do the censoring and what "we" get to censor.


        Remember, censoring porn from kids is bad; censoring porn from hurting women's feelings is good.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smellsofbikes (890263)
          I know some pro-porn feminists, and lots of pro-women-positive-porn feminists. This again runs into the same political problem we keep having with left-right: censorship is on the authoritarian-anarchist continuum, which is poorly correlated with the left-right continuum.
        • by Bemopolis (698691)

          Pornographic material, or even semi-pornographic material is censored in the work place because of NOW, Anita Hill, and others associated with the left
          That's because a few douchebags ruined sexual harassment in the workplace for the rest of us. (Yes I'm looking at you Clarence Thomas — and NOT your Coke can.)
        • Maybe I should just have put, interferring busy bodies.

    • by 2short (466733)
      The internet may not be safe for your work.

      Seriously, you'll be in trouble if something (*anything*) comes up on your screen that makes you say "oops" and hit the back button? That's freaky, you probably should stay off the internet entirely in that case.

      But at the least, quit wasting everyones time and encouraging self-censorship on the assumption that everyone elses work has such whacked standards. I hate "NSFW"; mark stuff that deserves it "UpsettinglyGrossPorn" if you want to provide some helpful dis
  • a better question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:23AM (#20899261)
    Has the Internet given mindless fact less fools equal footing as real journalists.

    Just look at rob Enderle, Paul Thurrott, or most computer writers who will say just about anything for a buck. They won't check facts, they refuse to show how they come to conclusions when they actually do research, and the research itself is so one sided it's just plain sickening.

    One Lady asked a group of dedicated windows admins if they were considering a switch to Linux. They are Windows admins not Linux admins.
    this isn't a flame war, but it's like asking a group of Mac Admins when they are switching to windows. you are going to get skewed results.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      "One Lady asked a group of dedicated windows admins if they were considering a switch to Linux. They are Windows admins not Linux admins."

      Who else would she ask? Linux admins aren't switching to Linux, they're already there. The question was to determine if Windows Admins were considering the switch, and probably why. Anyone that's half decent as a sysadmin is -always- considering the switch, but the answer is more often than not going to be 'not at this time' after they consider it. Ignoring the possib
    • by faloi (738831) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:45AM (#20899539)
      Has the Internet given mindless fact less fools equal footing as real journalists.

      Considering that a major portion of the "real" journalism I see these days is notes from a press conference from , I don't think that equal footing is undeserved. Good investigative journalism is more and more rare, and weeks of coverage on some starlet's alcohol problem seems to be on the rise. There's some good journalism out there, still, but it's harder and harder to find.
    • Perhaps just as good a question would be, were "real journalists" of the past actually as upright, unbiased, and accurate as you imply.

    • by Kohath (38547)
      They won't check facts, they refuse to show how they come to conclusions when they actually do research, and the research itself is so one sided it's just plain sickening.

      Sounds like 90% of so-called mainstream journalism these days.
  • The Internet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:25AM (#20899281)
    The Internet is good for amateur writers with talent.

    I'm guessing the article says it's bad for professional writers with limited talent. And everyone else is to blame for the professional writers' comeuppance.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by R2.0 (532027)
      "The Internet is good for amateur writers with talent."

      Because on the internet (as well as real life), talent is recognized and floats to the top for everyone to see and admire.

      Oh, wait, sorry - it's "scum" that floats to the top. My bad.
  • I believe that the increasing popularity of television, with its immediacy of coverage, its focus on 30-second soundbytes, and its tendency towards sensationalist presentation, has had a much more profound impact on traditional printed media (newspapers and such) than the world wide web.
    • Television focuses on sensationalist presentation? The USA once went to war over sensationalist presentation in the print media.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:32AM (#20899365)

    I don't think the Internet is necessarily bad for professional writers. There is a trend, certainly among technical folks, to rely on blogs and wikis and the like for information, but I think that will pass. Just as politicians can get away with sound-bites for a while, so the technical audience will tire of reading the same 200-word blog posts with a somewhat rehashed idea of someone else's 200-word blog post, which was just a combination of a couple of ideas mentioned on a wiki they linked to anyway. People don't just read technical writing for a quick idea. They read it for some depth of understanding, an insightful explanation, clear examples, and countless other goals that Joe Amateur just can't satisfy with his 200 words of quickly and casually constructed blog post.

    However, the Internet is going to be bad news for people who can't write for an Internet audience. You need a different writing style on-line. Most people don't sit down and read many screens of essay-like text all at once, nor do most people print such articles to read off-line. We can still have depth and insight and all that good stuff, but it has to be written the right way. It needs to be easy to scan. It needs to be organised in relatively short sections, or with other natural reading breaks that suit the material. There needs to be some effort put into effective presentation — and I don't mean turning every essay into a 3Gazzilibyte 1hour video interview, just because you can!

    The Internet is also going to be bad news for bad writers. There are plenty of decent writers on the web, and more than enough excellent ones in technical fields. No-one needs to read paid-by-the-hour, padded-out-forever-to-bump-the-word-count text-that-goes-on-forever-pointlessly. Writers who have specialised in producing such text to satisfy their contracts are going to be out of luck.

    The Internet is also going to be bad news for professional writers who occasionally write something really good, but mostly write filler. It is easy to link to a single article or blog post directly, and good work will typically be recognised as such. But if you want your home page to be the thing people think of, or you want people to subscribe to your blog, you're going to have to produce consistency. Sure, some work will always stand out from the everyday writing, even for the best author in the world. But no-one's getting famous for writing one article and then having nothing.

    So the bottom line is, if you're a professional writer who can consistently produce worthwhile content with occasional really good stuff, and you can adapt your presentation to the medium, then there's no reason you can't be successful. If you're not a good writer, even if you once write a brilliant piece five years ago, or if you can't adapt your writing to the target audience, well, you're going to find fewer opportunities than you used to. It's not like writing books is going to die out (though writing for magazines is fast going that way), but the Internet is the ultimate meritocracy when it comes to content, so if you're not up to standard with enough material a cut above to get you noticed, this isn't the career for you.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:49AM (#20899611) Homepage

    Look who's complaining. The whiners are all second-tier essayists, pundits, or worse. The article itself is by "RU Sirius". Complaints are by people like Erik Davis, who used to write music articles for Details and Spin. That's groupie journalism. Mark Dery wrote psuedo-journalistic crap like "The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink". John Shirley was an early cyberpunk author, and not one of the better ones. These guys are no great loss.

    The top-tier essayists, like John McPhee, are doing fine. The top-tier political writers are getting their books published. Novelists continue to flood bookstores with paperbacks. Even romance novel sales are up.

    The real damage from the Internet is that pounding-the-pavement newspaper journalism is no longer cost effective. That's not because anyone can blog; it's because Internet advertising is killing local newspapers. Ads for jobs, apartments, garage sales - all have moved to the Internet. Classified ads were a major money stream for newspapers, and that stream has dried up. Most newspaper content today is driven by press releases and other publicity. "News is what someone doesn't want published - all else is publicity". Pick up your local paper and mark the stories that didn't start from a speech, press release, wire service, or police report. In many papers, there won't be any. That's the problem.

    • by Rei (128717)
      Even romance novel sales are up.

      "Even"? Romance has long been the bread and butter of fiction sales. While Slashdot geeks may be more familiar with Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF), they're just a couple percent of the entire market. Romance has the lion's share.
      • Not just hyperbole (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PCM2 (4486) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:06PM (#20903123) Homepage
        The parent speaks truth. Romance may not really have "the lion's share" of all fiction publishing, but in 2004 romance novels really did account for about 55 percent of all paperback book sales, [publishersweekly.com] totaling some $1.2 billion.

        Here's another factoid for you armchair publishing-industry pundits to ponder: That same year, the Christian book market was said to be worth about $1.3 billion in net sales. [marketingymedios.com] You may not realize it, but there's a whole parallel market for Christian romances, Christian mysteries, and even Christian sci-fi and fantasy. And in 2004, it apparently brought in more money than romance books -- or, the equivalent of more than 55 percent of mainstream paperback book sales.

        Remember these points, the next time you want to start mouthing platitudes like "only bad writers need to worry" and "the quality will rise to the top." When it comes to the business of writing, those writers who are most capable at reaching the market -- the real market, not the one they assume exists -- will be the most successful.
    • by wordsnyc (956034)
      "Look who's complaining. The whiners are all second-tier essayists, pundits, or worse. The article itself is by "RU Sirius". Complaints are by people like Erik Davis, who used to write music articles for Details and Spin. That's groupie journalism. Mark Dery wrote psuedo-journalistic crap like "The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink". John Shirley was an early cyberpunk author, and not one of the better ones. These guys are no great loss.

      The top-tier essayists, like John McPhee, are doi
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Thank you. My jaw dropped when I saw the selection of "writers" surveyed. "No great loss" is putting it mildly. Now how do we get "RU Sirius" to STFU?

        Indeed. Reality Hackers started out as an interesting concept, but by the time it had morphed into Mondo 2000 it became plain that it was a concept with only one possible direction: chasing its own tail. Or should that be swallowing its own tail? Related: The literal translation of the German slang term "schwanz" is "tail"...

  • Yes.

    Err, No.

    Well, maybe.

    Depends.

    I guess.
  • by no_pets (881013) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:54AM (#20899683)
    There are different media outlets for writers so I suppose it might depend on the type of writer that you are. As an avid reader I would say that it is GOOD for authors of (mainly) fiction. Several of my favorite writers have their own websites with forums that they actually contribute to.

    Instead of having to rely on jacket cover blurbs, these writers can steer me toward other good writers with links to their websites. It's what the world wide web was designed for, it works well, and I believe these types of writers benefit from it. Not to mention that they can sell things directly to their fans (not just books, other novelties or even autographed works and limited editions).
    • by masdog (794316)
      It is also a good gateway for new writers. In addition to fiction newsgroups, websites, and forums where would-be authors could get their work reviewed and critiqued, there are new types of media like Baen's Grantville Gazette, which is "professional fan-fiction" and self-publishing.
  • Jay Kinney

    It's a mixed blessing.

    If the hardest part of writing is just making yourself sit there and write, and what used to be a typewriter and a blank sheet of paper has been transformed into a magical portal to a zillion fascinating destinations, then the internet can be a giant and addictive distraction.

    On the other hand, it's a quick and simple way to do research without ever leaving your chair, and that can be a real time-saver.

    So, on those counts at least -- color me ambivalent.

    I think you need to draw a distinction between people practicing writing as an art/hobby and those who make it their profession. As far as the actual practice of writing, I agree with the quote above.

    I think there is a good point to be made that the amateur writer has a far greater audience than ever before. In the past, amateurs produced their own newspapers or pamphlets two hundred years ago or fanzines in more recent times -- now those same sorts can blog and circulate the information amongst their frie

    • I think you need to draw a distinction between people practicing writing as an art/hobby and those who make it their profession.

      I'm not sure if you really can do this clearly, though. I am a technical writer by trade, and a creative writer in my spare time. I think I have to apply some of the "love" and artistry to my technical documents, or it would be the dullest profession in the world. Even when writing an agonizingly boring document about power supplies or God-knows-what, I still try to craft parag
  • Beware (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xPsi (851544) * on Monday October 08, 2007 @11:05AM (#20899837)
    of people you've never heard of who claim to be Writers who write about writing. Like musicians who write songs about being on the road doing gigs or business people who spend all their time attending effectiveness training seminars, it demonstrates a certain loss of perspective in the craft. Isn't it interesting how most people who write these "how to publish a novel" books are either obscure or unpublished themselves? That snippy comment aside, I think the hubris-ridden article raises some good points. Writing well is a craft, but like any craft it takes place within constraints. Those constraints are dynamic and writers should be judged within their appropriate local conditions. However, if the constraints on your craft are rapidly expanding (e.g. in the case of writing and the internet) and you don't acknowledge the adjustment, your rigidity sounds about as silly as a Sumerian high priest bitching about how no one seems to do cuneiform right anymore.
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Beware of people you've never heard of who claim to be Writers who write about writing. Like musicians who write songs about being on the road doing gigs or business people who spend all their time attending effectiveness training seminars, it demonstrates a certain loss of perspective in the craft.

      So freakin' true. And my personal favorite: Hollywood screenwriters and directors who make movies about the [choose one: fabulous/romantic/cutthroat/melancholy/hilarious/gritty] world of life in Hollywood.

  • It's a mixed bag, I think.

    On the one hand, there are a lot more opportunities for making money from writing--blogs, namely. The downside of that, however, is that because there are so many people doing so, the pay is usually crap. To be successful, writers have to work much harder at promoting themselves directly to the readers. In the Olde Days(tm), writers had to promote their work to publishers, who then in turn promoted their work to their readers.

    For fiction writers, I think it's a different animal alt
  • Is the internet bad for ________ - insert latest thing here.
    • by aicrules (819392)
      HTML is bad for _______, because it takes all those ______________ that you put in a row and only shows them as one _. So, if you would say that not being represented fully is a bad thing, then the HTML part of the internet is bad for ______.
      • by e4g4 (533831)
        HTML is bad for drinking contests, because it takes all those hula hoops that you put in a row and only shows them as one smorgasbord. So, if you would say that not being represented fully is a bad thing, then the HTML part of the internet is bad for pilates.

        What's that you say? Your post wasn't meant as a mad lib? My apologies.
  • Western Civilization is a spectrum, and even though I'm a conservative, I'd rather thought that we ought to have a place of value for our crazy liberal friends, because, at the end of the day, they do amazing work.

    We have before us, a class of people whose livelihood depends on control over the mechanical means of producing a copy of a work, and that means is stripped away from them. So, yeah, the internet screws writers, along with phographers, artists, musicians, and anyone else who used to make a living
  • Why? Because if you publish on your own website, you get to keep the rights to your work. Most dead-tree book publishers and magazines require copyright assignments from writers. New writers get the same raw deal from publishers as musicians get from the record labels - they get shafted, and the publishers keep all the money.

    And how is one to make money on the Internet? Rather than being paid by the word or royalties from book sales, one can earn money through advertising - Google AdSense, affiliate a

    • [link]I have earned as much as five thousand dollars per month[/link] from Google AdSense on my articles. Quite a few people in the Webmasterworld AdSense forum report earning ten thousand per month or more.

      At one time it was my ambition to be a dead-tree author, but no more. I'm happier publishing on the web. Read, for example, [link]my essays on mental illness and recovery.[/link]


      Wow. And you managed it without stooping to shameless self promo... wait a minute.
  • I've noticed that over the past 10 years, paragraphs are getting shorter and shorter. It seems that even a simple sentence now constitutes a complete paragraph. So much internet writing is in short direct sentences - this note is no exception. It's sad. In the 18th and 19th centuries, a paragraph could extend for pages and a sentence could have subordinate clauses - more than one - or three or more! Today, it's like:

    Paragraph one: SNARKY COMMENT TO GRAB ATTENTION - two sentences.

    Paragraphs two - six: ea

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      I've noticed that over the past 10 years, paragraphs are getting shorter and shorter. It seems that even a simple sentence now constitutes a complete paragraph.

      I suspect this habit comes from imitating the newspaper writing style. Newspapers often break paragraphs pretty much willy-nilly, and you'll quite often find paragraphs that are no more than a single sentence. In this context it makes sense, though, because newspaper column widths are very narrow. Put two or three sentences together and you might

  • by lena_10326 (1100441) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:32PM (#20900979) Homepage
    ...free (as in beer) software. It's a matter of people creating a product to sell or give away for free. The same arguments that apply to proprietary software versus free software applies here. Obviously, if people spend time reading free blogs and online-zine articles, they will reduce time spent on reading newspapers, magazines, and books. The number of hours in a day are fixed. That's a negative aspect, but I believe it's one of the few negatives. (Publication of wrong, unvetted information would be the other negative).

    I believe time is the primary resource that's in competition, not subject matter. Many blogs, message board posts, and websites I read are much more narrowly focused than print media, so competition for subject matter seems limited. Narrowly focused topics are a good thing. If it were not for the Internet, I simply would have no outlet for what I write about, because my stuff is unpublishable due to the nature of the content. In the print world, that would be bad for me and those who read my blog.

    There is a societal benefit to free information and the online publication infrastructure. More people writing means more people learning to communicate, which makes more effective workers. It also means audience reach is farther compared to print publishing, so there will be more people sympathetic to your issues. On my blog, I regularly see readers coming from China, India, Russia, Iran, and Australia. If I were publish a magazine column, my readers would only be Americans. It's easy to convince those culturally similar to me, but it's satisfying to know I may be convincing those very different from me.

    This concept that articles and fiction pieces have to be brief, power-packed, and trendy strikes me as a cop out. People eat up message board threads consisting of nearly 500 words each and 20 messages deep. A thread can easily reach 10,000 words of material, so I don't buy the short attention span argument.

    What I buy into is that people are simply uninterested in your work if you believe you need to be brief and trendy. If someone buys a $25 hard cover book, they have an investment in the book for which they need to recoup by reading it from beginning to end, so they may put up with a book that's less than thrilling. They have no investment with your free online piece, so they're going to be far more sensitive deciding if your content is interesting and thus worthy of further reading.

    People like interactivity. How many times have you read a newspaper article and disagreed with a critical point? You had no means providing feedback, other than "letters to the editor", which was up to the whim of an editor to publish or not. The Internet provides the ultimate channel for feedback.

  • Only for bad writers (Score:3, Informative)

    by houghi (78078) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:46PM (#20901165)
    The good writers will still be there. The bad writers will be filterd out much faster.

    Compare it to the camera vs painters or horsebreeders vs carmakers. Things evolve and change. Get over it.
  • There are now so many people convinced they are writers, and so many of them are terrible, that fewer people are reading and if they are, they are turning to what the large publishers are putting out. I think there's two definitions of writers, one the "you get paid to do it" definition and the other the one advanced by Beckett in the original article. Some people are truly artists with text. The vast majority just pretend to be.
  • The Internet is a different sort of writing. What works on the Internet are short pieces. There are no novels on the Internet because nobody has the attention span or time to read a novel there.

    For a professional writer that is any good, it is almost impossible to work within the bounds of the Internet. It is damn confining. We're not talking about having to polish something to get it expressed in absolutely the fewest words possible. That doesn't work either. What is required are both speed and terse
    • by julesh (229690)
      There are no novels on the Internet because nobody has the attention span or time to read a novel there.

      Speaking as somebody who has read several novels on the Internet, I'd say you're wrong on both counts.

      Also, the Internet is free. You might find some people getting shown ads in exchange for their reading, but nobody is going to pay enough to keep a writer from starving. All of the tip-jar and subscription services have pretty much proven that you can't get people to pay directly on the Internet.

      I know of
  • I think most people understand that almost nobody has ever really made big money writing--and of those who do, even fewer make it for very long. I've done much better than a lot of writers, but except for a few years in the late 1990s, I could not have considered my writing income a "living." (Fortunately, I had a good day job and didn't have to.) What I find fascinating is that I am now making about as much money writing as I did back in the late 1970s and all through the late 1980s (until my books became
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by julesh (229690)
      I have a blog

      Well, you _had_ a blog. Right now it seems to be slashdotted, which is spectacular for a post so far down the page! :)
  • by penguin_dance (536599) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:13PM (#20901641)
    The internet is good if you're:
    An unpublished writer.
    A copywriter or web content writer--it's a new venue and a new market to make money.
    A writer, published or not, who doesn't live next door to the library.
    A writer who works with others in collaboration.
    A writer who plans to self-publish and promote.
    Someone who writes for the joy of writing, ("open-source" writing) and if someone notices, that's icing on the cake.
    A small publisher/printer working with self-publishing authors.

    The internet is bad if you're:
    A large publishing house.
    A journalist who thinks their degree makes them "special." Yes, there are some bad amateur journalists, but providing you do the research and you can construct a sentence, there is no special anointing from on high that makes one a reporter. (And before anyone starts loading up stones, my degree is in journalism.)
    Against a diversity of ideas and opinions, whether a government, a news outlet or an individual.

    As long as there are readers, writing is good no matter what the venue. But therein lies the question: Will people keep reading as we turn into short-attention span, sound-byte monkeys? A few years ago, I had my doubts. But the Harry Potter, Eragon and other series have left me with some faith that, if you can write it, readers will come.

    There's really no downside to having a new venue in this business, unless you choose to create one or are so insecure you're afraid of a little competition.

  • Second job (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Leuf (918654) on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:07PM (#20902433)
    Is the world that much a better place with career writers, musicians, and politicians? I'm a believer that all of these tasks are done better when they aren't the primary source of income for the person. Notice how at least one of these writers doesn't even make it one sentence into his response before promoting his book? Get out there and get your hands dirty. If you are truly passionate about it you'll still manage to do it.
    • Re:Second job (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KoolyM (602345) on Monday October 08, 2007 @04:12PM (#20903905)
      It depends. Professional hacks like Haydn and Mozart cannot possibly have been passionate about the hours upon hours of symphonies and string quartets they had to churn out for their patrons (Haydn wrote more than ninety symphonies and an even larger number of string quartets - though he is possibly the most extreme example of a composition hack). At the same time a lot of what they wrote for money is now considered to be exemplary of the European music tradition. At the same time, I think you're generally right. Of the 20th century writers, I feel the amateur Franz Kafka has stood the test of time much better than his contemporary (a professional starved artist) James Joyce. At the very least I feel his work has a lot more to say about the human condition in the 20th century than that of his rarefied contemporaries, whose work fell out of public favor as soon as the people who grew up with them and who worked in trend setting English departments the world over went into retirement.
  • by Torodung (31985) on Monday October 08, 2007 @04:20PM (#20903971) Journal
    Of course, it was never just a simple transaction of "money for writing." Nobody would write on spec otherwise. It was about getting published, in an expanding mass market, so there's always been a bit of business sense involved. This is simply a change in paradigm, not a disaster.

    Writing is now much more like mass media. You (the writer) write something good, and then you get an audience, and you're going to have to take additional steps to make money from that. If you can't do that, then instead of going to a publisher, the writer will need to find some marketers to help with merchandising.

    This new economy doesn't translate well for florid, Victorian era writing because you can't fit that crap on a coffee mug or a T-shirt. No one's being paid by the word any more. Many don't have the time to read all that verbiage.

    But when something is available to everyone, as publication now is, it becomes essentially worthless. QED.

    Publication, the ability to physically publish or produce media, is rapidly becoming worthless, because everyone can do it for negligible costs. I sense that the publication/distribution industry is running on inertia at this point, or, if you prefer, it's in free fall and has just about hit terminal velocity. Mind you, it doesn't necessarily have to hit the ground, but it's not going any faster.

    The workers now own the means of production in this industry. Creative Commons is one seminal, if somewhat inchoate, way to "profit" from it. Money is not the only form of compensation. It's a tool amongst many, not an end. Some of the authors in this article lack the imagination to realize that.

    They should take note of Bulwer-Lytton's old saw that "The pen is mightier than the sword." That would sell some serious T-shirts. The only writers who are worried about these developments are the ones who never figured out what "Step 3. Profit" actually means. You have to do something with all that money for it to be a meaningful profit.

    --
    Toro
  • by inkswamp (233692) on Tuesday October 09, 2007 @01:13AM (#20907953)
    As a published writer, I can tell you that the Internet is nothing but joy for aspiring and professional writers alike for two reasons. The first reason is really childish, but true. The second is totally a matter of practicality.

    The first is that you get to see just how bad a lot of writers really are, and it gives you a kind of perspective that writers in previous generations never had, given that they were working in a bubble back then (relatively speaking.) There's nothing quite like the ego-boost a writer can get by perusing blogs and various writer sites and seeing the kind of grammar-challenged twaddle that 90% of the so-called writers out there produce. And it's sort of sad that most are neither educated nor experienced enough to know they should be embarrassed by it. It's amazing how often you see some unpublished writer on a writing forum float a query letter for public review that has some glaring grammar or spelling errors.

    The second reason is that, with the Internet, you can dig up tons of information about agents, publishers and other writers. On top of that, you can make contact with many of them in various forums to gather information that would have taken a lifetime of writing and publishing to gain in the past. There's a wealth of information and resources for aspiring writers out there that should be explored and absorbed. The Internet has allowed working writers to consolidate information about agents and publishers and start separating the bad from the good. A lot of shady agents and underhanded business practices have been exposed on the Internet, and every writer should avail himself to that information.

    Anyone who thinks the Internet is bad for professional writers has their head in the wrong place.

The ideal voice for radio may be defined as showing no substance, no sex, no owner, and a message of importance for every housewife. -- Harry V. Wade

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