Thursday, March 11, 2010

The iPad Cometh

There has been a lot of e-buzz about the recent announcement of the iPad, the ensuing fallout between MacMillan and Amazon, and all things eBook recently. And I mean, a LOT. Other than to briefly say that I'm really not that into the digitization of the stuff in my life - I like my books on paper, and my movies on video - I'm not going to get into what I think of the pros and cons and forevermores of this medium, that medium, and the other one. Everybody else is already doing that, and what's already out there is dizzying enough without me adding my own two cents into the mix. Besides, it doesn't really matter: the eBook is here, and so are Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and everything else. And this has led to a number of prominent bloggers talking about how this heralds the leveling of the playing field for creators of art, (be it music or film or books), because now we don't have to wait for a publishing house or a film studio or a record label to pick us up and make the world see our work for the brilliance that it is: WE CAN DO THAT OURSELVES.

This, to me, presents a problem.

First, because most of what we collectively create is just not that brilliant, and with all of the cyber-clutter out there, it's getting harder and harder to find the good stuff. It's like panning for gold a decade after the gold rush folks gave up and left. There's a lot of schlock. And I don't want to have to sieve through all of that schlock. It's bad for my eyes. And my brain. Not to mention that with all of the Tweeting and blogging and posting going on, it's hard not to feel lost in the morass of cyberspace that has become the modern social networking medium.

Second, the lines between promotion of our work and promotion of ourselves have become blurred. Once upon a time, a writer could toil away in comfortable obscurity, secure in the knowledge that his work would stand on its own. The rules for an actor have always been different - the nature of the profession has always mandated a certain degree of public accessibility - but any public hawking was typically limited to the usual promotional tour of chat shows, late night shows, and premiere appearances.

Flash forward to today, and it is quite a different story. We are all now exhorted to maintain a blog, keep an up-to-date website, tweet, use Facebook, etc., as well as continue to write/act/audition/query/research possible agents/publishers/producers/future projects/stay current on what's out there, and have you made sure to have a life on the side, by the way, because your fans will want to hear about that, too. Except that I don't think that last part - the part about my life on the side - is anyone's business. And I don't want to know what Ashton Kutcher had for lunch, either.

We're operating now in a world where the most talked-about, most publicized, most visible people are enjoying a lot more success than their mediocre work deserves, simply because they self-promote ad nauseam. I don't want to be one of those people.

I want to enjoy success when my work is good enough to deserve it.

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