When text is no longer made public through a fixed and frozen medium, the fiction of authorship and readership being distinct recedes, allowing the clearer understanding that authorship and the authority thereby generated is a dynamic process generated between writer and reader.
Through being frozen and fixed, though never having any privileged access to any ground truth, the written word has had a great cultural power, as can be found in the very word ‘authority’.
A deep literacy needs to be fostered to deal with the challenge with the digital word has laid bare through its refusal to fix or freeze and its use and ‘abuse’ to the point where its speedy dissemination through social media has become hijacked by the term ‘fake news’ which is used to completely dismiss information which is not agreed with, while at the same time not allowing an interrogation of the bias of information being presented in its stead.
The cost of time and money to produce a printed document and then to disseminate the document created a world of professions where to know what you were doing meant doing it by ‘the book’. The democratisation of production and dissemination of text today removes this filter, which – depending on your philosophical perspective – was a good or a bad thing.
The collaborative process of the medium of text taking place in the minds of the writer and the reader has always existed – “All Writing depends on the generosity of the reader” (Manguel, 2014). There has always been accusations of those who read without intelligence, going back at least as far as Socrates. What the digital text does is lay naked and bare the desperate need for the readers literacy to graduate to active reading while graduating the writers efforts towards clear prose and clear citations to enhanced credibility and transparency.
We can take this old truth and put it front and centre now that the medium of text has become substrates in a liquid form and make the process of reading as active as the process of writing. We can produce mental and technological tools for deeper literacies. That is what the Author project with liquid views is about.