Tim O'Reilly, one of my personal heroes, has a short but very suggestive post on, appropriately enough, how publishers are starting to resemble software developers. As the premium on speed increases, we're likely to see more multi-author collaboration in the world of books, and software developers have learned a great deal about managing multi-author collaboration.
Authorship is already an ambiguous phenomenon, and I'm bracketing the
pervasive use of ghostwriters for blockbuster titles. Acknowledgments
pages, which tend to read like nightmarishly long Academy Awards
acceptance speeches, only hint at the deep partnerships between authors
and editors, and between authors and muses, critics, gadflies, GChat
friends, and all the rest. This is not always true, to be sure. Some
authors really are rocks and islands. But my sense is that the
sensibilities of the internet age have moved us all in the direction of
collaboration, formal and informal, for the obvious reason that the
price of collaboration has sharply decreased. The value of authorship,
of course, is that the buck has to stop somewhere.
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