What’s an author? Why, just the sum of her readers, of course!
This is not to say that all networked writing will take place in vast wiki collectives. The individual author will be needed more than ever as a guide through the info-glutted landscape. But writers’ relationship with their readers will change as writing moves from the solitary desk to the collaborative network. No longer just an audience, readers will become assets, and eventually writers will be judged not for the number of books they sell but for the quality and breadth of their networks.
And then imagine that perhaps it is not actually a new phenomenon. What’s Plato but the collection of people who have read, discussed, and saved Plato? What’s Rachel Carson without the same?
I am newly in love with the idea of authorship as the creation of a community — by whatever means necessary or possible — around your ideas.
English majors, have at it.
(Link from Forbes.com’s great and completely-out-of-left-field report on books.)