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Fitton Speaks

Cyber Literature

Cyber Literature, flagged in zigzag red lines on my spell check, is viewed with a sneer by most readers of hard copy books. Oh, Gutenberg did you have these problems when you took to press? In the late 15th century Aldus Manutius in Venice printed thousands of relevant volumes and made the great works small, cheap, and accessible to the world. The complex changes fueled by computers and the Internet have spawned a cyber universe where everyone and everything can be immediately posted to the world. This astonishing and rapid development has taken many people (the scribes with their pens) by surprise.
Instant accessibility has its drawbacks. A barrage of material, written, audio, and video, has surged into cyber universe. As a reader I ask: why should I go scouring the web when books stores have already used professional editors and established publishers to sift and select the proper works? Good question. Publishers survive by selling books to large and medium sized markets, but the web can direct writing to specific readers.
Before I emerged from the purgatory of building my web site I thought about only thumb tacking one or two books up for sale. I concluded that strategy was certain death. By putting my entire sideshow out there I allowed the reader a depth and choice that most books store canò´ ¯ffer. How many bookstore chains offer every book of every author on the shelf? Forget it. And on the web you can instantly have books by clicking in your pajamas.
The remedy to the smearing of Cyber Literature is time. I believe people make market decisions every day and are smart enough to sift through the cyber pile. My generation, the Baby Boomers, and even the X-ers will fade away as did the generations before printing, the first automobiles, and television. In the not too distant future the evolution of the web will be the medium and this column that I write at my desk on a cool fall New England evening will seem strangely archaic.

Robert P. Fitton
Thursday, October 19, 2000