I read an opinion piece in Time magazine the other day about how publishing is going to change — become bigger, dirtier, more democratic. Basically, because of the Internet. Because people's tastes are going to get "cheap and promiscuous."
Reading this I had a strong sense of deja vu. I was suddenly back in 1999, at the height of the Internet Bubble, when people were making similarly enormous claims about the power of the Internet (to end wars, end poverty, spread democracy). Now, in 2009, I think we can all agree that the Internet is pretty awesome, but for all practical purposes we have the same problems we did ten years ago. Maybe more of them.
Thinking more about this piece in Time, I flashed back a little further, to a postmodern fiction class I took in 1997 as an undergraduate at Cornell. The professor was insisting the same things back then that the author of the Time piece suggests today — fiction is going to become Internet-ed and hyperlinked, the idea of an "author" will be changed — we will all become authors.
Despite the admiration ...