Measuring the literature world: Being an author in 2012
“I hope writing won’t change through digital technology – that would be terrible,” said Daniel Kehlmann, sitting in the spotlight next to John Burnside on a blue couch in central Berlin.
The best-selling author, who came to prominence with his 2005 book Measuring The World, said: “Digtial media is changing the way we relate to each other and the way we relate to literature.”
Burnside, who published his first collection of poetry in 1988 and worked as a software engineer in the IT industry for ten years, pointed out that the idea of ‘multimedia’ had always been connected to creativity. “Most writers are multimedia people and we consume films, photos and books and other art. If we used digital media right, we could liberate creativeness in anyone.”
Daniel Kehlmann recently signed a petition to protect author’s copyright and said he believed that, in the digital age, authors and publishers should continue to get paid a fair share for their work. Burnside disagreed and said the copyright laws merely existed to protect the interest of the publishing industry, but were not necessarily of benefit to authors. He said: “Publishing houses are behind the ball in anything to do with digital media – the web is not just a sales tool but also a creative tool to engage people.”
The discussion moved on to immersive games and stories and plots in TV series. John Burnside said: “The Wire is art because it reminded people of Shakespeare in terms of the complexity of characters and plot. It looks like something we already know as art. New media needs to challenge our view of art and turn it into something new.”
Towards the end of the discussion, the Scottish writer talked a little about his recent work, writing in residence at the Literarisches Coloquium Berlin. He said: “I was walking around in Potsdam recently and there was a sign that said Ohne Sorge. For me the idea of Sorge was connected to Heidegger and I thought this is a really deep town!”
- This post picked up only a few points from the discussion. The full conversation will soon be available on our Youtube channel.