U Hve 2 Rd It!

Convergence.

cell-phoneI’ve talked about it before. Who needs a computer if you have an iPhone? Who needs GPS, an MP3 player, cough drops, or a brain, for that matter? Technology is gradually moving toward a single instrument that could perform all the functions postmoderns demand.

oedIn this global techno-society, literature alternates between strict isolationism (I want the hard copy of the Oxford English Dictionary for Christmas, complete with magnifying glass) and tentative integration (There could be benefits to getting Anna Karenina as an e-book rather than in print). I am always curious and a little excited to see new ways technology could translate into a renewed love of reading and literature in American culture.

For this reason, I’ve chosen I ❤ Novels, an article by Dana Goodyear in The New Yorker (the abstract is available for free; subscription required for the full article), for the next ProfoundNet. Here’s a snippet:

At the end of March, 2006, Mone, a twenty-one year-old college dropout, started posting a novel about her life straight from her mobile phone to a media-sharing site […] By mid-April, Mone had completed her novel, nineteen days after she began. In December, 2006, “Eternal Dream” was published. The book distributor Tohan ranked the book among the ten best-selling literary hardbacks for the first half of 2007. By the end of the year, cell-phone novels, all of them by authors with cutesy one-name monikers, held four of the top five positions on the literary best-seller list.

One of the most exciting possibilities of this new genre in Japanese literature is its inclusiveness, “opening the closed ranks of the literary world to anyone who owns a mobile phone.”  But quantity and quality do not always coincide. 

Will the cell-phone novel have the effect of the blog world – when everyone speaks at once, no one can be heard – or will it revitalize literature as a a popular, not merely a scholarly tradition? Until the first critically-acclaimed work appears in this medium, it will be difficult to judge. 

Nonetheless, it is exciting to see one area in which technological convergence is taking literature along for the ride. Thanks, Dana, for your thought-provoking article.

Thanks also to Alexander Russo at This Week in Education for bringing this article to my attention.

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