The essay itself came out of posts between Nick Carr and Clay Shirky. At which point I appear in the comments. There’s an element of crossed wires and confusion, as there often is in debates, particularly those online.
For those who don’t want the context, my position is thus:
‘Regardless of the merit and quality of individual works, mainstream entertainment has gone from print to radio, to TV, and now to online (PC and mobile). This does not remove the value of lengthy works of literature, but it means it has less debate and therefore impact in the modern world, compared to when it first appeared.
The modern world leads to smaller chucks of information, as everyone has agreed. But I would assert the idea that these chunks should never be seen in isolation. And that the aggregation of information I make available via Twitter, for example, compares to that you would be able to dissect if it was in printed long form. And there is now more dicussion, debate and openness by creators and consumers before, during, and after the publication process.
If Tolstoy was alive today, he wouldn’t attempt to Twitter the entire text of War and Peace. But he’d probably discuss his writing and philosophy on his blog or on Twitter, and highlight important passages etc.’
It’s quite interesting that in a length post on the merits of longer works, the most interesting part is in the comments below…