23 April 2007

Once published...

Not only does authorship get lost on Web due to plagiarism (see my previous post), sometimes entire articles disappear.

There have been many times when I’ve read an article on the Net and referred it in my blog or to a friend, only to find, a week or month later, the article is no longer available. Or, the link doesn’t work. Sometimes the article or the passage I’ve referred is still available, but edited, so that some relevant text is missing (Wikipedia is a case here). This makes linking and citing references from the Net difficult, not to mention the annoyance of discovering the disappearance (it’s usually someone else who points it out).

In the world of print, I feel, there is greater reliability. Once published, the print material stays. Yes, I accept there are other drawbacks such as the book or journal or article is not available everywhere or to everyone, or it’s too expensive to obtain, or the book goes out of print. But, between the reader and the author/publisher, there is a tacit understanding that the print volume, once published, will be catalogued, stored in libraries and sold of bookstores. There is a sense of permanence. It gives the reader a sense of relief.

Then again, the Net offers virtual access to incredibly huge volumes of material… in print, in pictures, in audio and in video. Accessing such a variety of material from millions of sources can be problematic for anyone. For the man on the street, this is a windfall, particularly as most of the material on the Net is accessible for free. Moreover, the Net offers quick updates (immensely valuable for news items), reviews and criticism. Plus, the facility of contacting the author directly through email. No more writing letters to the editor or the publisher.

Since the advent of the Net, there has been a paradigm shift in the relationship between author/publisher and reader. From a static ‘once published’ mode to a dynamic ‘constantly changing’ interactivity not experienced by readers before. Come to think of it, neither have authors and publishers experienced this before.

No comments: