Again, another interesting piece from my first-ever blog…
Is ‘the author’ a dying breed? Just one of the disadvantages of folksonomies.
Imagine you’ve just spent the last few years of your life writing a novel. You’ve researched it; poured out your thoughts, ideas, and plans; agonised over characters, settings and plot devices. Finally, after countless hours of Herculean effort, it’s finished. YOUR work. YOUR effort. YOUR blood, sweat, and tears.
Should you have the right to feel some sort of ownership of that novel? Or those words? Phrases? Characters? Ideas? In my opinion, I yell out a resounding ‘YES!!’ (Of course I would, I’m an aspiring novelist.) However, there are many that wouldn’t.
Put a photo on flickr, and anyone can ‘tag’ it. Okay, that’s normal practice. Maybe, if the photographer hadn’t wanted their photo tagged, they shouldn’t have put it there. But they did, so they should accept the ‘standard practice’ on these types of sites. But what then, when it comes to something other than a photo? When it comes to something like that novel you’ve worked just so darn hard to create? Is it then fair that others can ‘tag’ this? Your work? I guess it’s all well and good if the tags are suitably reflective of the main ideas espoused: ‘historical novel’; ‘character-based’ etc etc. But what if it gets tagged ‘a piece of crap’?! How would you then feel? Because this is indeed a possibility – once ‘out there’, on the net, you have relinquished all control over your work. Completely. It’s enough to make you, the author, want to quit.
And another disadvantage? Finding your novel again! Say this piece of work that you had sweated over was ‘Les Miserables’ (which makes you, of course, Victor Hugo). Say hundreds of years have passed; hard copies of your novel have fallen into disrepair or worse. The only copies that exist, dwell in whatever the future’s version of ‘online’ is. But unfortunately, they’re impossible to find, because everyone has ‘tagged’ your work with classifications that are personal to them.
This system called ‘folksonomy’? I don’t agree with it. I can’t change it; and I know that I have to live with it; but I don’t like it. I’m with Daniel Pink on this one… “On the great library shelf in the sky, Melvil Dewey cannot be amused.”