Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"A Realistic Distribution Model?"

WaterBoy proposes a topic:
Given the recent discussions at Vox Popoli concerning distribution of literature in the Information Age, would it be asking too much for discussion about a realistic distribution model that adequately rewards the author without resorting to the feelings or kind-heartedness of his/her readers?

Ten years ago, the editors of The Ethical Spectacle asked me to write an article on ethics and the future of the Internet, and the result was The Ethical Implications of Online Content. This article, while it missed a few points that are now obvious in hindsight, was not an altogether bad bit of futurecasting, and it was spot-on in its central prognostication.

Seven months ago I revisited the subject, and wrote a follow-up article, Copyright, Copywrong.

To be honest, at this point I am now talked-out on this subject, and I really don't see how a new distribution model can evolve that does *not* depend on the kindliness of readers. I expect that the future of literature looks an awful lot like the pre-20th Century past, in which literature is the domain of the dilletantes, the tenured professors, the independently wealthy, and those lucky enough to have corporate, ecclesiastical, or governmental sponsors. But I reserve the right to be wrong and to be surprised.

Surprise me. Please.