Eighteen Challenges in Contemporary Literature

This list, by Bruce Sterling, originally appeared on Wired.com’s Beyond the Beyond blog on 5/30/09.

1. Literature is language-based and national; contemporary society is globalizing and polyglot.

2. Vernacular means of everyday communication — cellphones, social networks, streaming video — are moving into areas where printed text cannot follow.

3. Intellectual property systems failing.

4. Means of book promotion, distribution and retail destabilized.

5. Ink-on-paper manufacturing is an outmoded, toxic industry with steeply rising costs.

6. Core demographic for printed media is aging faster than the general population. Failure of print and newspapers is disenfranching young apprentice writers.

7. Media conglomerates have poor business model; economically rationalized “culture industry” is actively hostile to vital aspects of humane culture.

8. Long tail balkanizes audiences, disrupts means of canon-building and fragments literary reputation.

9. Digital public-domain transforms traditional literary heritage into a huge, cost-free, portable, searchable database, radically transforming the reader’s relationship to belle-lettres.

Read the rest of the list on Wired.com’s Beyond the Beyond blog.

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