Back in the dark ages, when I was on a college faculty, we were all under pressure to �publish or perish.� This dictum meant that we would spend countless hours not only putting our thoughts on paper, but mailing manuscripts and query letters to the publishers and publications that were deemed important in our disciplines or profession. It was like kneeling at the alter of publication, and we were powerless supplicants.
Rejection letters from publishers and media outlets were more than just a common occurrence; they were the norm. Some arbiter in the ozone would decide our work wasn�t suitable, or good enough, or whatever, and it would be returned to us (or not) in a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
Fast forward to the magnificent, decadent twenty-first century. No one rejects me now. I won�t give them that power. When an idea flits through my mind, I save it as a Word document. Then I take my choice of how I want to publish it. There are dozens of alternatives.
I can enter the poetry contest at Poetry.com (www.poetry.com).
I can email it to my readers using Yahoo groups. I can post it to my blog at http://blog.stealthmode.com, by using Blogger pro (www.blogger.com)
where it will be indexed by Google and perhaps found by anyone searching for me or my content.
I can even get paid to blog if anyone wants to read what I write. A new site called BloggingNetwork (www.bloggingnetwork.com) pays its bloggers a small sum every time they are read.
When I finished my screenplay, I posed it to a service that matches people looking for screenplays with writers. (www.inktip.com) So far, it has been downloaded by half a dozen agents and producers � the same ones who would have written me those rejection letters in the last century. It turns out they are actually always looking for good material, and they browse the site anonymously on their own terms.
Today I also found out about a piece of software called Movable Type, a free download for personal use from http://www.movabletype.org , that makes it simple to update web logs and other content on a site. Six Apart, the company that developed Movable Type, is also beta testing something called Typepad, which they call a hosted personal publishing tool. We are now in the era of �personal publishing.� It�s the successor to �vanity publishing,� which was regarded as failure. Personal publishing, on the other hand, is considered cool.
And let me not forget my next alternative: Netomat. (www.netomat.com). Netomat is my current favorite because it began not as a �software play,� but as an art project. Netomat was originally conceived as a network-based art project by artist/programmer Maciej Wisniewski. Frustrated with the limitations of HTML as the de facto language of the internet, Maciej set out to build a more effective language for communication over networks.
In creating the language, Maciej recognized that computer and information systems can embody values. He committed to designing a language from the ground up that would be open and extensible, work with existing formats and protocols and make it easy for people to be at the center of their own communication network.
By studying the history of robust networks (e.g. aqueducts, ant colonies, immune systems, human communities) and then applying this research to the rapidly evolving internet, Maciej developed the netomatic mark-up language (nml).
nml was first introduced at the Postmasters Gallery in New York City as an art project called “netomat”. The piece, which was downloaded by close to a million people in over 80 countries, clearly touched a nerve. It also showed that art could not only drive technological innovation, but that it had the potential to create its own self-sustaining business model.
Maciej then partnered with the curator and co-owner of Postmasters to expand the vision of the art project and productize the powerful technology. In the fall of 2000, they partnered with two software veterans to found netomat, Inc. and to build a creative, innovative, profitable and responsible software company.
Netomat�s software, which is also still in beta, lets the user drag and drop photos, text, and even voice into a �document� that can be a saved as either a web page or an email. It works on both PC and Mac, and can be updated and change by you or your recipient. So not only can you publish, but you can publish collaboratively.
Damn, that�s good.
The writing�s on the wall: it�s the (traditional) publishers who will be the next to perish.