The other day, my good friend and fellow writer kcdyer said she thinks this is the time of the biggest changes in the publishing industry since the introduction of the printing press. She’s probably right. Minutes before she said it, we’d filled out release forms for a podcast (and who’d even heard of such a thing a few years ago?) we were doing to talk about the Surrey International Writers Conference. On the form, there was space to fill in all our contact information, including email, Facebook, Twitter, and our own websites. Last time I filled out any sort of release, they asked for my phone number.
I used to think my great grandmother had seen more change in her lifetime than most of us could hope to. She lived from 1887-1987. Think about that. Pretty much every technology we take entirely for granted these days was developed or came into common use in her lifetime: electricity, indoor plumbing, radio, TV, flight, cars, computers… the list is much longer than those few examples and pretty hard to beat. But even if our own lists look less impressive on the surface than hers does, twenty-two years after her death, we already live in a world that would seem awfully different to her. Thin airmail envelopes with letters penned on both sides of the paper to save the weight with, if you were lucky, a tiny, grainy black-and-white photo enclosed, which you’d pore over, eager for even that much of a look at relatives you may never set eyes on again have given way to emails and Skype, where grandparents can look at brand new grandbabies smiling at them from half a world away, live on their screens. When I was a kid, video calling belonged to the Jetsons and Star Trek. Now it’s real. And the changes keep on coming. Wonder what the next 22 years will bring?
In my own life, all that connectivity has changed my path more than once. I met my husband on a local BBS before anyone had heard of the internet, dialing up on a 300 baud modem to chat with local teens. Meeting in person meant describing clothing or carrying something specific to be recognised, since there was no way to exchange photos back then. In the years since, I’ve met some of my closest friends online, and not one of them lives in my neighbourhood. I’ve had the best free education on writing available by participating in the Compuserve Books and Writers forum, and it was there that I found out about the Surrey conference, the best of its kind in North America, which happens to take place less than an hour away from my house. Next month, I’ll be there again, spending in-person time with some of the friends I keep in touch with online. And after that, I’ll be starting a new job, coordinating that same conference I would never have heard of without the internet.
So, with all that in mind, I figured it was time to start filling in some of the blanks on that release form. First up, this blog. Maybe Twitter next. We’ll see. 🙂