Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Effects of Technology on the Novel

The Novel, 2.0: This fascinating article in Slate has so many interesting facets that it's hard to know what to respond to. I agree with the authors that technology is bound to change the face of the novel, but I'm not entirely sure how. Seeing as how bound book sales keep going up and up, though, I disagree that the novel is moving online any time soon (I've said since the advent of ebooks that until there's a really good reader with a readable screen, I doubt that online books will take off for anything but research and reference purposes--and even once that happens, there will always be adherents to paper).

I do agree that the web and other technology is changing both the way we do things and our attention spans, and I think that will affect some novel-writing and novel-reading (for instance, I think that the current popularity of mystery narratives comes in part out of our fascination with the detective-like quality to finding facts online). But on the whole, I think that people still long for the continuity and resolution provided by a narrative structure in an increasingly fragmented and information-overloaded world, so I don't see the traditionally-plotted novel as going away for quite some time.

As an editor of an online literary journal which encourages creative submissions that use the possibilities inherent in the online form--and having myself written a short online novel at one point (nothing could induce me to tell you the pseudonym under which I wrote it)--the most intriguing part of the article to me is the opportunities offered by the online form, as listed on page 5 of the article. I certainly experienced the workshop-like quality he mentions while I was writing my serialized story, and the impressionistic linking he suggests fascinates me as a creative concept. From now on, I'm determined to use such types of linking every so often in this blog, if only to stimulate my sense of creativity and wordplay.

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