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Authoring the Present: An Open-Source Novel

By ryry in MLP
Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 07:34:59 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)

Douglas Rushkoff has a new novel out, only this time you can't buy it in stores (not yet, anyway). It's called Exit Strategy, it's only available on the Internet, and it's open source.

The premise is that the story was written in 2008 and discovered 200 years later. Readers take on the role of 23rd-century anthropologists by adding "footnotes" to the story linked to certain words or phrases. These footnotes are interpretations of what certain people, ideas, and places actually meant. For example, what would a scholar of the future make of a velvet rope at a club entrance?

Apparently, ropes of this kind conveyed status upon such an establishment. It is thought they may have been given out as awards for excellence by some kind of central industry body, and hung around the entrance to a club to attract potential customers

You get the idea? Footnotes don't have to accurate - only what you think someone from the future would think about our culture. And you can also banter with other people's footnotes, discussing and debating their accuracy based on how you view things.

Next year, Douglas will publish a print version of the online book, complete with the 100 most popular footnotes. The authors of those footnotes will get a free signed copy of the book and be invited to a book party in New York. All this for looking at your present life in a slightly different manner ...

Sound interesting? Head on over to Exit Strategy and write your own history.


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Authoring the Present: An Open-Source Novel | 12 comments (9 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Great... (3.50 / 6) (#1)
by jezzball on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:27:23 AM EST

So Douglas would print the book, make a lot of money off of it, and the top 100 people would get a free signed copy? Ooooo....

I do coding not for the money, but for the enjoyment...but I also don't do it just so that someone else can prosper from it.

Ergo... (3.80 / 5) (#2)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:34:34 AM EST

then don't contribute. That's easy, ain't it?

farq will not be coming back
[ Parent ]
How is this "Open Source", exactly? (4.50 / 10) (#4)
by strepsil on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:43:45 AM EST

If it's "Open Source", can I take a copy and publish it myself? Can I just grab chapter 6 and include that in a book I'm writing? Can I fork his manuscript if I don't like the ending and start my own distribution of his novel?

No - I can scribble in the margins of the main copy and if I win a popularity contest, I'll be given a copy so I can show my friends a tiny piece of text on one page and say "I did that! Am I cool or what?"

I have no problem with the concept, but this is a shameful attempt to cash in on a buzzword that's getting a lot of press right now and should be treated with utter contempt. If it was touted as a "Footnote Competetion" or an "Annotation Experiment", I'd have no problem - but no. It's an "Open Source" book.

What's next, "Free Software" Cola? Hamburgers from McStallman's?

OpenCola (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by dennis on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 12:02:40 PM EST

What's next, "Free Software" Cola?

Well yes, actually: OpenCola.

Can I just grab chapter 6 and include that in a book I'm writing?

A difference that illustrates the radical freedom the FSF advocates, and which in my opinion is the future of art--a cultural commons that we all can participate in, rather than a corporate product we simply consume.

[ Parent ]

What books ARE open source? (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by Eight Star on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 09:43:10 PM EST

Why does Open Source have to mean the same thing in every feild? There isn't 'source' to a book at all. Is grabbing a chapter out of a book a way to get a good story? I don't think so.
I think this is a good experiment into collaborative fiction, maybe it should have been called that, but I don't think who holds the copyright on the work is really relevant to calling it 'open source' yet. Right now there isn't an established open collaborative fiction method, or even a consensus that it's possible to do well. I think that it's giving the Open Source buzzword at least as much good press as it's getting in return. It will show people (if it works) that there's another way to make an interesting story, and it's a way that they can be a part of, fully open projects could mimic this.

[ Parent ]
Open source (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by ucblockhead on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 01:25:06 PM EST

Sure there's source to a story. It is the words. It would be trivial to do an "open source" book. Simply write a book. Say anyone can modify it and publish the results as long as they don't disallow anyone from doing the same with their changes.

To call this "open source" is a travesty. It is like saying a book is "public domain" and then saying you can't change it.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Huh? (3.62 / 8) (#5)
by Greyjack on Fri Jul 13, 2001 at 10:44:05 AM EST

Perhaps I'm an idiot, but how does allowing people to add footnotes make his book "Open Source"?

Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett

Copyright 2001 Ziff Davis Internet Inc (4.75 / 4) (#10)
by delmoi on Sat Jul 14, 2001 at 12:47:51 AM EST

All rights reserved.

Actualy this book is intresting. Almost as intresting as the fact that the actual content seems to only take up about 45% of the screen space...
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Calm response (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by dash2 on Mon Jul 16, 2001 at 08:43:31 AM EST

OK, this seems like an interesting idea, but as others have pointed out, it ain't "open source" unless he actually lets people modify and redistribute the source.

Well, maybe it's an evil scam; but maybe, Douglas R is just a non-clued-up author who needs to be explained the actual reality behind the open source buzzword.

How about someone finds his email address and we write some polite requests on what license the book is going to be published under? This might get Mr Rushkoff to think a bit harder and maybe even get the book properly open-sourced - which would be, I think, very cool.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
Authoring the Present: An Open-Source Novel | 12 comments (9 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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