The Biggest Story Ever Told

“I hate artists who are not of their time.” – Guillaume Apollinaire

I recently read a collection of essays/responses/ramblings that came under the title How the Internet Is Changing the Way We Think. It’s a question that was posed by Edge magazine and sent to various people, all experts in their field. Some were artists, some were academics, some were scientists. All had a different opinion and answer.

The book successfully managed to make a cohesion between the separate parts, with the same tone or subjects being clumped near one another. Often the opinion of one writer would be positive, while the following piece would be a wholly pessimistic coin flip regarding the Interweb. It was, in general, a great insight and provided plenty to think about. Almost every entry was entertaining with a distinct voice. Only a few withered away to issues that were certainly within the writer’s expertise, but rather disconnected from the actual question. It’s definitely worth a read, if only because it forces you to consider your own answer.

With this in mind, I have also been studiously reading all books and PDFs provided by my recently commenced Masters in Publishing and Editing. From what I’ve gathered there is a big focus on the future of publishing, with the general consensus being that e-books in their current form are only the beginning. A few times it has cropped up that publishing should move away from making commodities and products, and focus on the actual process of making stories. An interesting point, and one that ties into the use of the Internet.

In regards to the question presented by Edge, my belief is that no, the Internet has not changed the way we think. We still think in tales and metaphors and with a need for logic, but what the Internet has done is create a thousand new means and methods for communication. Journalism has clearly been rocked by this shift, and soon it will be time for literature to arise and grasp the full range of tools at hand. The Internet is the biggest, longest, most in-depth story ever told, connected physically by miles of wire, and spiritually by millions of people. So what does this mean for writers, for creative types of all schools?

It means it’s time to move from mono-media to transmedia—the interweaving of text and image, sound and film. The participatory nature of the Internet is another factor that is having a massive impact on the media we consume and produce. Books and movies won’t be the work of one or a few; it will be the collaboration of many, even unwittingly. Not only do we have constant flow as we jump through hyperlink after hyperlink, but our story sits right next to a thousand, million more.

This gives me food for thought regarding my own writing, and how best to get it out there. Crowdsourcing for research. Twitter for a fanbase. Incremental, episodic releases. There’s a wealth of ideas already implemented, and many more yet to be discovered. I’ve grown up with the Internet, lived among communities, witnessed breaking news. I’ve probably written a novels worth of words in various places at different times, and maybe when put together it might form a real narrative—my e-personality growth and development, all the trials and tribulations. A scary, insurmountable thought.

So I think the Internet has changed how we operate, in that it provides the tale of Mankind—past, present, and indeed future. It gives any information we wish for at a whim, which can then be manipulated into new forms. Welcome to another chapter in the biggest story ever told.

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