Writer and Reader Swap Roles

Print (historically static) has formed our underlying conception of the writer and the reader.

In print, the writer rules ok. The writer is active, transmitting to a (more or less) passive (at least politely quiet) reader. The writer is the authority: she is skilled, practiced, well-studied. The reader the apprentice: unskilled, but a willing learner. (Friedrich Willhelm Nietzsche read an amazing amount of literary journals, etc., and had beautiful prose, himself. Willing learner: perhaps. Unskilled: nay.)

But in hypertext (malleable) - and especially in a wiki - the reader can (if allowed) interrupt - and not just interrupt but completely re-write: change, erase, modify.

The shift is from Stearns' "Gentle reader, linger a while..." to "Yo writer-boy! Outtatheway." The relationship can become intimate, or strained, rude.

But then perhaps the polite relationship has been a tenuous one for a long time.

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A Beginning Thought of Print Literature

In print, the writer chooses a distinct path that will be administered by editors. The writer is active, transmitting his or her words and images to a passive (at least politely quiet) reader. The writer determines the discourse that will occur; therefore, the writer is the authority in regards to their own literature. The reader, whether the literature is required for a course, chosen for a review by the reader, or simply chosen to read for entertainment, is willing and open to learning new things. The aspect of 'reading for entertainment' is quite often taken forgranted in American society, as Americans are so busy planning every minute of every day multitasking and what not, take no time to simply indulge in that classic Stephen King novel that they're conscience has quietly been nagging at them to read.

Evolution of Collaboration of Print: Wikis

Ward Cunningham created a way that print technology could be viewed by many, read intrinsically, and modified at any given time by viewers; allowing collaboration from numerous viewers that are primarily attracted to the topic by interest.

Wikis allowed the ability for writers to be readers and readers to become writers. This, in my opinion, lifts the stress and weight off of a writers' shoulders by presenting the opportunity that someone interested will come along and will edit the work, adding their two cents worth, and add more weight to a ball rolling downhill, eventually rolling to a stop much larger then when it first began.

(Copy editting may be required. Please feel free to leave notes, comments, or make changes yourself in order to improve this. This was a good start. --Andy Hotzler)

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