Nearly universal literacy is a defining characteristic of today’s modern civilization. Nearly universal authorship will shape tomorrow's.
Nearly everyone reads. Soon, nearly everyone will publish.
Before 1455, books were handwritten, and it took a scribe a year to produce a Bible. Today, it takes only a minute to send a tweet or update a blog.
Rates of authorship are increasing by historic orders of magnitude.
Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential.
These are thoughts that come from both a research report and analysis from Seed magazine's "A Writing Revolution." I discovered it on blogs like one by The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan whose post reposted the chart below:
In that Seed article, they say:
By 2000, there were 1 million book authors per year. One million authors is a lot, but they are only a tiny fraction, 0.01 percent, of the nearly 7 billion people on Earth. Since 1400, book authorship has grown nearly tenfold in each century. Currently, authorship, including books and new media, is growing nearly tenfold each year. That’s 100 times faster. Authors, once a select minority, will soon be a majority.
What does it mean to be a "published author" in this digital world they are describing?
In our analysis, we considered an author’s text “published” if 100 or more people read it. (Reaching 100 people may seem inconsequential, but new-media messages are often re-broadcast by recipients, and then by their recipients, and so on. In this way, a message can “go viral,” reaching millions.)
Do I agree with their analysis? Yes and No. Like Nick Carbone, I question the leap in their example of United Airlines refusing to reimburse a musician for damaging his guitar, and that customer subsequently posting a song online called "United Breaks Guitars” as being the reason that "United’s stock dropped 10 percent."
But, in general, I am with Seed on the idea of a radically changing authorship model that gives a much larger number of people the means to become published authors and actually have a readership that lends some authority to their writing.
I'm an author of the Seed article. Thank you. We appreciate your interest. You may be interested in our reply to comments at the New York Times blog.