Is it not true that today — with the global publishing platform that is pretty much free to use now in our possession (yeah, the Web) — it’s a writer’s paradise?
Are we in a great age of public writing, and an amazing time for writers to share their work and gain mass support, independent of publishers?
In effect, every writer today runs a one-person magazine (one’s website) as well as having the capacity to use print-on-demand services to be one’s own publisher.
If that is not where we are right now, then it’s coming. So, the question is, if we’re in a great age for language and writing, with the ultimate global sharing system at our disposal, then what is preventing history’s most profound period of literary activity and consumption from happening right now?
Maybe the problem is that over a short time, television and now mobile computing have both eroded reading skills. Start with the fact that people’s attention spans have shrunk in response to the activity of using the Web — this affects all Web users, not just young people.
The art of reading has been in decline (in a classical sense, where a person sits down with a book and has an undistracted, continuous experience reading it for some time).
Therefore, at one and the same moment in history — right now — we have nearly unlimited powers to share our writing, but our cognitive capacity has been altered and maybe damaged by that very way we’re sharing. It’s too ironic.
New Word Order
Books may not even be ecologically feasible in this century, as our progeny deal with mountains of trash, water shortages and forest degradation.
Or, it could be that we’ve entered previously unknown genres of reading and writing, with a clear leaning toward short or micro formats — a literature, also, that exists in a real-time online environment rather than on isolated pieces of paper.
For example immersive games that contain texts throughout could be considered a new form of fiction — can you imagine a Booker Prize-winning text that one reads during an online game session? At the same times, addictive things like pay pal casino games are part of the reason people may not be such great readers anymore.