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Technology and literature

Literature seems like the polar opposite of technology, but the magazine InfoWorld had an interesting article about how technology is shaping literature. The most unusual example was the writer who had an iPhone app created to publish her story as white text on a black background where the text itself changes blurring, twisting, changing size or font as the story line changes.

The premise is that technology is changing the way people write and the way people read. The idea of reviving serialized novels struck me as interesting. In the old days, a novel like Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop would be serialized because it sold better in small chunks; more people could afford it. Now a site called DailyLit.com sends readers books chunked up, via email or RSS, on a schedule they can set. Apparently, it's now more a matter of only giving people as much as they have time to read rather than how much they can afford (some books are free)— although I have trouble accepting that people want reading matter doled out in doses, like medicine.

As for writers, they have new outlets— including POD publishing for traditional novels, and the web for shorter works. In some cases, writers (John Scalzi is a great example) use the Internet to provide their work for free, then get more traditional revenue sources after they've built a following.

And of course, Japanese cell phone novels are both written on and read on cell phones, taking technology into both ends of the equation. Oh brave new world, that has such gadgets in it!







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