Chat Transcript: March 18, 2001
Program Chat--The Business End

Where are the business models? How can we have our art and eat, too? New media art and literature on the web requires more investments in computers, software, and other tools than other more traditional forms. How can writers afford this--and recoup--this investment?

Our speakers for this chat include:

Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems, who suggests checking out the Hypertext News, Fresh Daily and his personal site

Amy Eisner, COO of Night Kitchen, is filling in for Bob Stein, founder of Night Kitchen and a pioneer in electronic publishing for the past 20 years. Night Kitchen is about to release TK3 Author and TK3 Reader, software that makes it possible for authors, artists, producers, filmmakers and non-technical people of all sorts create and publish media-rich electronic books - no programming required. The Night Kitchen website is www.nightkitchen.com

While at Ziff-Davis, Jeff Ballowe led the launches of 5 magazines, ZDNet on the Web, and ZDTV. He also led the initial ZD/Softbank investments in Yahoo!, USWeb, GameSpot and Herring Communications. Since leaving ZD in at the end of 1997 he has served as Chairman of DejaNews and as a director of drkoop.com, VerticalNet, XOOM.com and ZDTV

Laurie Morgan is the CEO of a digital publishing startup called Digital Stories. Previously, she was president of IDG.net, IDG's global portal and advertising service.

 

Related Links

 

-- Start log: Sunday, March 18, 2001 11:18:45 am CST

Scott Rettberg says, "Well, thanks to everyone for joining in this chat, especially Amy for filling in on such short notice."

Deena passes around coffee and coffeecakes

Jeffrey says, "Commencons-nous?"

Deena says, "Sure, let the fun begin."

Scott Rettberg says, "Allons-y"

Scott Rettberg says, "Maybe we should start out by letting each guest introduce themselves, their companies, and their interest in publishing interactive literary content. We have quite a group here that I think represents both a great deal of history and a great deal of promise for the future of electronic publishing."

Scott Rettberg says, "Since this is a MOO, everyone can introduce themselves at once."

Deena hands round more coffee and listens for the introductions

Jeffrey says, "I'm Jeff Ballowe. I'm with ELO, serve on the board of a few Internet companies, and am learning to play piano."

MazThing is Mazzy, or Pauline Masurel, a writer.

Deena is Deena Larsen, a writer and chat host

Deena says, "You can see links for our guest speakers on the right hand side."

pbm is a web developer & writer, work at networkninja.com in Chicago.

Laurie says, "Laurie Morgan here. I'm CEO of a startup called Digital Stories. We are an early stage company; we are building tools to both distribute and create various forms of electronic content (and non-electronic), from the simple text-only ebooks the trade publishers are currently providing to more useful, interactive, fun books that genuinely benefit from and take advantage of technology (this would be the good stuff)"

Bernstein says, "I'm Mark Bernstein, from Eastgate. Also on the ELO board. We write new hypertext tools and publish hypertexts. We've been doing this since 1982. We just shipped a brand-new Storyspace."

Deena says, "No problem, we are just starting. As Scott said, please introduce yourselves and let us know your interests in new media, business, the internet, etc. :"

Amy says, "Hi. I'm Amy Eisner, of Night Kitchen. Our software, TK3 Author and TK3 Reader, lets authors and artists make their own ebooks. People are really making beautiful things with it. I've even been experimenting with electronic poetry myself. To address one of Scott & Deena's topics, we think that epublishing will begin to matter when there are more people engaged in making the stuff."

Deena says, "What are the business models that you see on the web and for new media?"

Jeffrey says, "My guess is that the best business model for writers of e-lit (work made explicitly for an interactive medium) will be by publishing it via a peer-to-peer network that allows for secure payments to be made by the downloader."

Deena says, "Amy, how do we get more people engaged?"

Amy says, "Sorry didn't mean to interrupt there Deena."

Deena says, "No problem,. this is really a free for all, just come on in :)"

Deena hands out juggling balls for the conversations.

MazThing takes four and thanks Deena.

Laurie says, "That's interesting, Jeff. We take more of a magazine-like view of things here. We think it's pretty important to find the audiences that are "Ready," and deliver them things that they are ready for."

Laurie says, "So, the role of the publisher would still be important in helping to find that audience. But, it's a different kind of role than in the 'traditional' world."

Deena says, "Laurie, what are ways we find these audiences?"

Laurie says, "Well, these are the things we are working on. One way is to aggregate them through other online media."

Deena says, "Jeff, could you say more about the peer to peer?"

Jeffrey says, "Right now, the best way to advertise is to exchange links with each other, because only a few kinds of readers are really interested now. to do the real work of building a larger audience will take an investment by a few publishers and or a group like ELO. peer-to-peer is an insiders game also, but one that benefits from the viral effects of the Web."

Diane Greco says, "Laurie, could you say a bit about how you see the difference?"

Laurie says, "I think you are right that building a larger audience is "Real work" -- we are aiming at communities that we believe are ready, and/or have a natural tendency to aggregate."

Laurie says, "Or, are unbiased"

Deena says, "How do you aggregate groups on the web?"

Scott Rettberg says, "A lot of what we talk about at ELO deals with audience 'creation' as much as it does finding the audience. With a lot of the e-lit stuff, even though its antecedents have been around for at least a decade now, people are still easily confused by the concept. There's a huge process of educating the potential market."

Laurie says, "For example, we have a site in the works called ModernLit, which is aimed at 20somethings. They're highly wired, use lots of media, and like to try new things."

Deena says, "How do we educate the market? Could we use ModernLit to help with this education?"

Laurie says, "We aggregate them based on their common interests in reading -- using traditional media as part of the appeal -- and, permit them to try non-traditional things. For example, we have an interactive "Choose-your-adventure" book in the works, and an epistolary novel in multimedia."

Scott Rettberg says, "That's an interesting way of thinking, bridging over from known quantities to new ones."

Deena says, "Jeff, I'd like to go back to the viral effects of the web. Can we use these to build audiences? How?"

Amy says, "In terms of finding an audience, one place to start is the bookstores. TK3 Author really expands the idea of what an ebook is."

Diane Greco says, "Amy, you see TK3 in bookstores?? How?"

Deena says, "How does TK3 work to bridge from booksotres?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Mark and Diane, could you describe a little bit about the way that Eastgate has built its audience for hypertext over time?"

John McDaid arrives.

Deena says, "Hi John, we are talking about ways to build audiences for hypertext and build markets."

Deena says, "How do we get our work to these audiences?"

McDaid says, "Tnx Deena, Hi all"

Sue says, "How many people here read the article in Wired News about Talan's winning the trAce Alt-X new media competition? It raised the question about why people aren't looking at that kind of work."

Bernstein says, "It seems to me that people ARE looking at hypertext fiction, whatever Wired might believe."

Sue says, "Mark, their point was that the press was ignoring it."

Bernstein says, "Look at the number of literature courses that teach it. Look at the amount of press we do get."

Sue says, "Mark, so the Wired article was wrong, in your opinion? That's worth saying."

Bernstein says, "For example, the last JODI contains a long and thoughtful discussion of UNCLE BUDDY'S PHANTOM FUNHOUSE and KING OF SPACE, by McDaid and Smith respectively. Both old, none of them best sellers. Just because they're great."
Editor's note: JoDI is a subscription based web journal.

Scott Rettberg says, "I'd say the Wired article is just a blip. A lot of media outlets haven't figured out how to cover this stuff. the NYTimes is another example where some work needs to be done."

Diane Greco says, "Amy, that's great...I'm wondering how you're going to manage distribution, though. Ingram will pick it up? Or??"

Deena says, "How are the TK3 books marketed in bookstore?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Not that it would be wise to think of bookstores as the primary means of distribution."

Jeffrey says, "It takes a publisher to really make this work. Not just to "aggregate the audience" but to help the writer bring a good product to market. The editorial value add of publishers won't go away (I hope). Peer-to-peer is just a cheap distribution method that allows work to reside on all the computers that make up the One Computer that is the Web. It also gives individuals a proprietary feeling with the work that increases the word of mouth (or email, or instant messenger, whatever): the virus."

Deena says, "Jeff, how do publishers work in the web environment?"

Jeffrey says, "Same as always. They choose, edit and promote. The last being maybe the most important."

Deena says, "How do we increase the literature courses, and get works in bookstores?"

Amy says, "Diane, yes, we're working to get TK3 books into bookstores. TK3 Author really handles an amazing variety of expression. So we see a spectrum from the traditional book in digital form to works that involve hypertext and embedded video and really looks nothing like a book. But it can be bought like a book."

Amy says, "Diane, we're in discussions with online bookstores and others that need to be in the picture to get TK3 books out there."

Deena says, "How do we promote on the web?"

Jeffrey says, "By not limiting it to the web. Publishers need (as do groups like ELO) to promote all over the place. we're trying to get the awards ceremony on TV for instance."

Amy says, "I think authorship is also key."

Bernstein says, "Amy -- will bookstores (meaning Barnes & Noble and Borders) forgive the CD meltdown?"

Diane Greco says, "Ah, gotcha, Amy. Brick & mortar might be a harder sell, that's just my intuition, though."

Deena says, "Good point. I think we need to show thaty hypertexts are being reading the world outside the web."

Scott Rettberg says, ""Hey I thought we weren't supposed to mention that."

Deena gives leave to mention anything and everything...then wonders what she may have stasrted...

dglen says, "In Texas recently, Mark has made the suggestion (following Jason Epstein ) that epublishing may follow cottage industry statistics for some time--after all, smarter works appeal to smaller audiences, right?"

Diane Greco says, "Not that small, I hope."

Bernstein says, "WOOPS. I didn't say 'FOR SOME TIME". Epstein argues (and I agree) that publishing is inherently a small-scale business."

Deena says, "Sounds like we need to educate the pr4ss, how do we get mainstream ress articles to see what is going on?"

Jeffrey says, "Only as long as the audience is small will cottage work. Scale is a natural effect of success (and without it a cause of failure)"

Scott Rettberg says, "I don't doubt that the more "E" e-lit will have a smaller audience than things like e-books with a tom clancly interview. But there's small and then there's small."

Deena says, "Could you talk more about the scale of audiences, Jeff?"

Bernstein says, "Publishing has always been a comparatively small business. Epstein (who helped make it a big one) argues that the natural scale is small, and that publishers will likely return to a smaller scale of organization -- *not* audience."

Diane Greco says, "Not sure I follow, Scott. I think you mean, there's small and then there's invisible?"

Deena says, "Yet even literary books have visibiltiy, how do we get visibility for new media?"

Sue says, "Mark, I agree."

Jeffrey says, "Right now we are at the very lowest end of scale and for a lot of e-lit will remain there. Over time, for this to work commercially there has to be enough readers for promotion to work with an acceptable degree of inefficiency. Otherwise we'll be selling to ourselves and that's a deadend."

Deena says, "Mark, could you talk more about the smaller scale of organization?"

Sue says, "Could it be that because there is an idea that technology = huge amounts of money, that writing+tech also = hiuge amounts of money - and this is wrong."

Scott Rettberg says, "What I mean is if you look at the current audience of e-lit (sold) and e-lit (read) both those numbers could be larger by a factor of 10 and it would still be a relatively small audience than Harry Potter."

Deena says, "How do we work commercially?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Smaller ... compared to."

Deena says, "Sue, I like your point. How do we get around the idea that writing + technology does not = huge amounts of money?"

Sue says, "People who have always worked with poetry audiences accept small audiences."

Jeffrey says, "Leave the tech out of the equation and replace it with "Audience." That's what also costs a lot of money."

Deena says, "Yes, and our audiences are a scale larger than most poetry audiences."

Sue says, "I think new media audiences have a lot in common with poetry audiences - small, specialist."

Sue says, "Deena, are you sure?"

Amy says, "When I think about sports or music I think about how the die-hard audience is composed of sportsmen and musicians. The same is often true for readers & writers. And e-authors."

Bernstein says, "Almost all art has an audience small compared to Harry Potter. And very little writing yields huge amount of money. "

Deena says, "Jeff, can you tell us more about that, how that costs money?"

Deena thinks about chapbooks that come in groups of 50, multiplies her ten factor, and comes out with 500, which is about right for a hypertext...

Diane Greco says, "Huh, Deena? I think the number depends on the work."

Jeffrey says, "An audience must be sold. That's why it costs money, because selling them costs money."

Scott Rettberg says, "I think that both Nightkitchen and Digital Stories are potenitally interesting in the "Bridging" audience's way."

Sue says, "Jeffrey, why bother to do that? Marketing becomes an end in itself."

Sue says, "Mark, perhaps poetry audiences are different in the US than in the UK."

Deena says, "Ahh. Good point Jeff. Can we sell tese works easily?"

Laurie says, "Because there is a need to reinvent the marketing wheel every time."

Jeffrey says, "It's true that most of what we think of as e-lit won't get to Harry Potter sized audiences ever. our goal should be for at least a few writers to be able to make a living from their work, however. "

Sue says, "Some poetry audiences are large here."

Sue says, "Not necesarily the BEST poetry ! (grins)."

dglen says, "Mark, how many writers in the country make a living off print books right now."

Deena says, "Laurie, are we reinventing the marketing as well? What can we do to streamline and not reinvent?"

Amy says, "Our goal should be to help get ideas and artifacts of beauty out into the world. It helps if people can make a living at it, but that's not inherently the goal."

Jeffrey says, "Only a few. But that's where I'd hope the e-lit makers could get soon as possible. Without that dynamic I think you lose a lot from the overall scene."

Laurie says, "Well, the problem we see is this: a typical book is released, and the publisher (or author) has to find the audience for it. It's terribly inefficient and expensive. It gets worse online!"

Sue says, "Amy absolutely."

Scott Rettberg says, "Not many writers will ever make a good living off of their work, but there are some pretty drastic changes in the cost chain in an electronic publishing context that should enable authors to at least get a bigger cut of what is sold."

Deena says, "That would work. I'll find the disks :)"

Amy says, "Scott, I sure hope so."

Diane Greco says, "Laurie, what about community-based publishing, like chapbooks.com?"

Sue says, "Scott, can you explain?"

Deena says, "Scott, what kind of changes?"

Laurie says, "Our idea is to aggregate audiences who are interested in works of a certain sort (regardless of medium -- more likely aggregated by interest areas), and then present them with lots of different things."

Jeffrey says, "A bigger cut or the same cut from the profits which should be lower given lower costs of distribution (not of promotion, however!)."

Laurie says, "Yes, like community based publishing."

Deena says, "Laurie, so you are working on the interest base rather than the media base..."

Scott Rettberg says, "Right."

Laurie says, "Yes -- also, for us, this provides multiple paths to revenue/profitability . . . which allows us more $$ and runway to experiment with new, interesting stuff, until we understand what models work for that new stuff."

Scott Rettberg says, "The cost shifts to production of a master, rather than printing ten thousand, and then promoting the hell out of the copies, or building traffic, or increasing downloads."

Amy says, "Jeff, sometimes I'm skeptical whether those savings will truly be realized. But I think on-demand extends the life of the backlist, and that may make a difference too."

Deena says, "Right. What business models work on the web?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Hah."

Scott Rettberg says, "Half.com works."

Laurie says, "We can, in other words, sell print books, advertising, subscriptions, etc. to that audience."

Sue says, "Laurie excuse me, I was late, but I missed your intro - what do you do?"

Laurie says, "I'm CEO of DIgital Stories, a digitial publishing startup."

Laurie says, "I come from the magazine world; that influences everything I say :-)"

Jeffrey says, "Peer-to-peer will lower distribution costs a lot."

Bernstein says, "I agree with Amy; it's easy to overestimate the impact of mfg costs in the balance sheet."

Sue says, "Ok, thanks - which magazines did you work for?"

Laurie says, "I was at IDG -- a tech publisher (they publish the Dummies books also)."

Sue says, "Ok, thanks."

Scott Rettberg says, "Again, I think that's a scale thing. If you were moving 10,000 copies of Patchwork Girl a month, the impact of lower manufacturing costs would be significant."

Laurie says, "Jeff, how do we get around the payment problems with ptop."

Deena says, "Jeff, dare we get into the copyrights and other potential challenges for peer to peer?"

Laurie says, "Also, it really restricts business models to payments, doesn't it -- I think that's a big challenge"

Jeffrey says, "I used to publish magazines. wasn't hard to overestimate how much i spent on paper. and how fast that went up overtime as % of costs. but the big cost was promotion. by far. so what we are doing is taking away maybe 15% of the costs of publishing and replacing it with tech costs that might add up to 10%, roughly. still that 5% is a huge difference in the long run to building a successful business."

Deena says, "Yes, how do we get business models to payments? People pay for print magazines, but don't pay for online magazines... "

Laurie says, "This may change, as free content companies face more market pressure and/or disappear."

Laurie says, "I think we will soon see more hybrids."

Deena says, "How do people accept payment for content?"

Scott Rettberg says, "I'm also interested in the mix of free "Hook-in" content and for-pay content that all three of your companies will be using in some fashion or another. How do you retain customer interest long enough to get them to pay"

Laurie says, "Ha! trade secrets!"

Bernstein says, "Scott: even at your figure (and a systained 120,000 units/year for a challgening feminist literary fiction would be incredible, albeit deserved) I'm not sure the manufacturing isssue would change the critical ratios qualitatively. You'd have to run the numbers to be sure."

Laurie says, "I'm joking - that's the big challenge, of course, on the edit side."

Amy says, "I understand the publisher concern with making a business out of this, but I'm curious whether really wonderful pieces of electronic literature are having trouble finding an audience, and whether that has to do with the subject matter & experience or the technology."

Deena passes around an offering plate for trade secrets.

Jeffrey says, "They pay for some magazines, not for others. huge parts of magazine files are free subs, often. but the point you make, Deena, that readers must pay is true. some peer-to-peer companies (while relying on free storage, which will also go away over time) are coming up with envelopes for work that require a payment to be made (or escrowed, actually) before the envelope of the downloaded object can be openned."

Deena says, "Amy, I really think it is all that: the experience witht he technology, expectations for reading, and subject matter"

Diane Greco says, "Expectations, especially. Readers think, I shelled out for this, and it's technology, so it must be MIRACULOUS."

Bernstein says, "MIRACULOUS AND EASY!"

Laurie says, "yes -- or, at least, problem free"

Deena says, "I think the expectations for a $20 hypertext are much hgher than for a $20 book..."

Scott Rettberg says, "I think the public reaction to whatever Bertellsman does with Napster will be a real bellweather for subscription (and peer to peer)."

Diane Greco says, "Yeah...and across how many systems and platforms...oog."

Deena says, "And books don't require tech support..."

Diane Greco says, "Yup, Deena. And they'd be higher for a $10 HT, $5, etc."

Bernstein says, "Eastgate: wirl'd first loit crit tech support line"

Bernstein says, "Garble: Eastgate: worlds first lit crit tech support line (sorry folks)"

Deena says, "Right. Will we be able to find a way to get peer to peer compatible with copyrights?"

Diane Greco says, "I think Mark means, real people do Eastgate's tech support."

Deena laughs and tries to fly after the overbvlown expectations.

Scott Rettberg says, "Well a whole lot of programmers are employed with that right now."

Deena runs back to Ted Nelson's literary dreams of Xanadu...

Scott Rettberg says, "I see more of a problem on the "Oversecure" side than on the "Piracy" side."

Diane Greco says, "And of course we throw in the Baudrillard when we can."

Deena says, "Yes, over the last few years, IO have seen a lot of the epubs melt down from the overblown fear that someone might steal a copy..."

Scott Rettberg says, ""In the ebook world for instance, so many publishers are thinking more of that than they are about how they'll actually get people to read the darn things."

Laurie says, "I agree . . . although peer-to-peer kind of swings things the other way a bit."

Amy says, "Right, Scott."

Deena says, "How do we realistically address security?"

Diane Greco says, "Piracy's weird - the people who steal are often the ones who'd never pay in the first place, right? Not a lost mkt at all."

Laurie says, "Unless they pass on to people who WOULD have paid."

Deena says, "Yes, they will either get a borrowed copy or nothing... So are we back to guiltware?"

Amy says, "And in many areas, people exhibit "More-more" behavior - the more they get, the more they want. That's nothing to complain about."

Jeffrey says, "Theives don't buy what they can steal. Not sure it's true they don't buy what they can't steal."

Deena wonders about human nature sometimes.

Scott Rettberg says, "But you build a shopping mall shaped like a soviet fortress with armed guards how many packages you gonna sell."

Amy remembers the malls where she grew up and thinks that's kind of what they look like.

Deena says, "Right, particularly when the packages contain something unexpected, like literature you have to work at or stories with different endings or..."

Bernstein says, "Sign on wall: don't worry about the thieves."

Deena says, "So it is a combination of factors."

Jeffrey says, "Security is pretty simple if you just require a payment before you can open the file. i'm not worried about the talented hacker who will break through anything. they are actually few and far between and at scale a tolerable cost of doing business."

Deena says, "At least the thieves are getting the product out ;)"

Scott Rettberg says, "Heard somebody from Adobe talk on this a few weeks back, he said that they've stopped worrying about encryption except for certain markets (Asia) where piracy is common cultural practice."

Sue says, "If we jump ahead over this difficult time now - what do you predict will be happening in 10 years time? Do you see these problems are being resolved, somehow, or not?"

Deena says, "Going back a bit, how do we determine enough free stuff to get the audiences interested and then what is enough to pay for? How do we set prices?"

Bernstein says, "Which problems, Sue?"

Sue says, "The problems we're discussing right now - being able to at least earn a living."

Laurie says, "Deena, re: your first question, I think it's really trial and error."

Deena says, "Good question, SUe. Where do you guys see the business of new media in 10 years?"

Laurie says, "Publishers will have to develop a sense of what works over time."

Amy says, "Well, if technology is whatever wasn't around when you were a kid, I think we'll make some headway in getting acceptance of eliterature. But only if there's really great stuff out there -- as diverse as in print publishing."

Laurie says, "yes"

Deena passes out lots of rubber erasers for bouncing around trials and errors.

michael_byrne quietly enters.

Deena says, "Hi Michael, we are talking about problems that ebusiness faces and what the industry will look like in 10 years."

Bernstein says, "Sue -- that problem's been around since the 17th century; I doubt we;ll fix it in the next 10 years."

Sue says, "Mark, can you define the problem then?"

Scott Rettberg says, "I think that the earning a living thing will evolve on several different channels. Academia, the art world, publishing, places and funding for e-lit will open up."

Scott Rettberg says, "Probably faster in non-traditional publishing environments than in those overseen by Random House"

McDaid says, "Thanks for a great chat. Gotta go. Bye, all."

Sue says, "There seem to be two threads in this room - one group expecting a continuation of small radical publishing, the other expecting a breakthrough into a strong economy"

Scott Rettberg says, "Strong economy? Got four years?"

Amy says, "Why not expect the same broad spectrum we see in other media - some experimental, some commercial?""

Sue says, "Yes Amy - agreed"

Laurie says, "Amy -- yes, agree"

Bernstein shares a URL...<http://markbernstein.org/Quotes.html>.
Editor's Note: The Quote was "The purpose of art is to delight us; certain men and women (no smarter than you or I) whose art can delight us have been given dispensation from going out and fetching water and carrying wood. It's no more elaborate than that." David Mamet

Amy smiles at Mark's quote.

Diane Greco says, "Maybe hoping, rather than expecting."

Sue says, "And Diane - yes!"

Diane Greco says, "Mark - "Been given dispensation" - begs the question, by whom?"

Sue says, "Nice one Mark!"

Scott Rettberg says, "I think Amy's right there."

Jeffrey says, "I don't expect a breakthrough, but Ido expect publishers to begin to take more interest in work make for interactive media and over time for writers with brands in print to also begin to work in elit. The effect of both will be more promotional resources that should make it possible for new e-writers to make a living (though not at a greater rate than in print, I fear)."

Mercury arrives from Second Dimension

Deena says, "Hi Mercury, we are talking about how new media writers can make a living"

Bernstein says, "In any case, we were publishing hypertext ten years ago, I expect we'll be doing it a lot better ten years from now."

Scott Rettberg says, "I think Mark's right on there. Whenever I step back and think of this field from a global perspective, it is truly amazing how much interesting work is going on in the absence of any real economic infrastructure."

Amy says, "Dispensation for experimentation will probably come from the same sorts of places - organizations dedicated to providing it."

Bernstein says, "Mamet is thinking that the dispensation comes from the people who bought tickets to tonight's show."

Jeffrey says, "Mamet is right."

Sue says, "yes, Scott, agreed."

Jeffrey says, "Though there is a chance that writers will make a bit larger piece of the pie because there is a bit greater possibility for them to control the relationship with the reader than there is in print. control of the customer relationship is worth a few points of margin."

Diane Greco says, "Deena, writers making a living at writing chase down all kinds of opportunities. That's not (merely) a question of publishing models."

Deena says, "What can we do to help organizations like trAce and ELO that are helping to get the audiences?"

Scott Rettberg says, "We can become members of the ELO, certainly"

Bernstein says, "What can ELO and Trace do to help bring the audience to the work?"

Deena says, "Yes, the ELO Directory, the trAce Alt-X new media competition, and ELO Awards help to spread interest."

Scott Rettberg says, "The ELO and trAce are doing a great deal right now to bring audience to the work,now. And we're certainly continuing with that goal in mind."

Sue says, "In the UK, organisations like the Royal Opera House get millions to keep them going - if they were dependent on audiences they would die immediately."

Deena likes the UK ideas of subsidy...

Sue says, "Do you have that in the US?"

Diane Greco says, "No, Sue..."

Sue says, "But you have opera houses - how do they survive without subsidies?"

Diane Greco says, "Corporations underwrite productions...Of course that also means certain things don't get produced."

Laurie says, "Things like NEA grants would seem possible (?)"

Deena says, "Good point, Laurie. It is hard to get the right category, but we should keep trying grants like the NEA.."

Jeffrey says, "ELO just rec'd money from the Ford Foundation, but getting money from the US gov't is getting harder and harder. Who can we contact in the UK?"

Sue says, "Jeffrey - sorry, they don't give money to foreigners!!!!"

Scott Rettberg says, "Things like that are one source, as our corporate sources."

Amy says, "Keep in mind that even print writing is often the loss leader for performances and business leads and other projects that spin off from it."

Deena says, "We have some places in the community for art, and we can get hypertexts into these places. I now have two art installations for Marble Springs and other hypercard work up at subsiddized community art and theater places. I think putting hypertext lit in museums helps to spread the word.."

Sue says, "Deena now that is interesting--- I heard Mark Amerika interviewed on the BC the other day...And he said that hypertext in museums was really out of place and missing the point."

Scott Rettberg says, "Really Mark said that? He's gotten some cake out of the situation."

Sue says, "Scott - he was saying that you cannot appreciate the work when someone else is navigating it and showing it on a big screen."

Deena says, "My installations are actually on small Mac Classics with an antique school desk, a very cosy experience...I think that hypertext anywhere we can get it is in the right place. And some of my points are that the works are antiques..."

Laurie says, "It does raise the question of whether this is "Museum" type work or art for the masses that can fund itself."

michael_byrne says, "There was an issue that came up in trAce a few weeks ago where a jourrnalist referred to e-lit as rich lit. It is expensive for the ordinary person to create this "Art" ?"""

Deena says, "Good point Michael. There is certainly an investment in computers..."

Scott Rettberg says, "Very well could be both/and"

Jeffrey says, "I don't think stockholders are in much of a mood these days to let companies give to crazy things like elit. "

Bernstein shares a URL...<http://www.hypertextKitchen.com>.

Laurie says, "Of course, the costs there continue to drop."

Sue says, "Michael, I always thought the rich-lit referred to intensive content, not rich = money. "

Scott Rettberg says, "There are gradations between museum work and choose your own adventure."

Deena says, "We also have the haves and have nots in terms of who has access to the computer to read the work."

Jeffrey says, "Books were for rich people in the beginning. we have to try, and we are with some new programs at ELO, to get more access for more people, but it's sort of a built-in reality for any new medium."

Bernstein says, "If you browse through the Kitchen most days, you'll see lots of art made by ordinary people. Often with help from instituions or governments, but by nor means always."

Laurie says, "Yes, I was really hinting at independence, censorship, etc.., etc."

Deena browses and is amazed at the work and events.

Sue says, "Question..Do you think 'hypertext' is still the most effective name for these works?"

michael_byrne says, " I thought it referred to literature made by or consumed by the affluent ectors of the population." "

Deena says, "Sue, no it isn't. Old habits die hard."

Deena trains herself to say new media, then thinks that covers so much ground...

Scott Rettberg says, ""And these works are also on a continuum between what most people would call "Art" and what most people would call"Lit" and what most people would call "Games" and what most people would call "Dreck" and what most people would call ad infit"

Bernstein says, "Yes. I think hypertext is exactly what we mean, and we should resist the tempation to invent a new word for it all the time."

Sue says, "Thanks, that's interesting."

Amy says, "Isn't hypertext specifically about non-linear navigation? What about blending text with other media?"

Laurie says, "Scott, but wasn't that Amy's point before? Should we not be expecting and demanding the full range of publishing from this new media?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Yes, Laurie, I think we should."

Diane Greco says, "Semantics. The only question is whether anyone else knows what we're talking about and if not, how to change that..no?"

Deena dodges the question of definitions by saying that we probably have time for a few more last points before the official end, but people are welcome to stay after and talk more...

Scott Rettberg says, "I think hypertext is a literary technique. Electronic literature comprises other forms as well."

Bernstein says, "Amy: the other media have been there all along (Lit Machines) But "Media" is a collective plural, so its hard to ask people to buy your hypertemedia."

Diane Greco says, "No, Mark, I think "Hypermedia" surpasses the grammar ;)"

Amy says, "Hm."

michael_byrne says, "There's a difference between publishing a straight literary text, and a text with graphics and links. "

Deena wonders if we can get audiences when we can't define the wares...

Jeffrey says, "The readers beyond the pale of those we already have don't care what we call it."

Deena says, "Good point, Jeff. And we may not need to be consistent on definitions... thinks about the hours we spent with Espen on definitions..."
Editor
's note: this chat was December 17, 2000.

Scott Rettberg says, "There are a whole host of amazing things going on artistically."

Amy says, "Deena, I expect two strands, as with the Internet: one focused on publication and one on communication. "

Scott Rettberg says, "I think there are problems with localizing the discussion or the interest on one particular technique."

Deena says, "Scott, what kind of problems?"

Scott Rettberg says, "Problems of getting boxed in, and eschewing other possibilities."

Deena says, "I would still like to know what people see happening in the next 10 years for business models in new media /hypertext ... Any visions?...I see more and more people becoming intrigued with the artisitc poossibilities in images, links, navirgation and more, and this becoming at least a genre in itself... I am not sure how the business will go..."

Sue says, "Deena, my vision, if i have one at all, is that most media will be multimedia eincluding multisensory, and that the legacy of this time will be interactivity - that is what has changed literature more than anything else and that is the key, i think,m toi the new reader esxpereince"

Deena says, "Amy, where do you see these strands going?"

Sue says, "Just my 2 cents ;)"

Deena pays sue her 2 cents and nods happily with the idea of interactivity.

Amy says, "I think that publication requires thinginess, as in ebooks. And communication is about environments, where people pay for access."

Amy says, "Not that you're not communicating when you publish...I just mean publishing-mindset."

Sue says, "Interesting disctinction, Amy."

Sue says, "Book vs theatre/film?"

Diane Greco says, "I like "Thinginess", John Maeda's stuff is beautifully thingy."

Deena says, "Diane, do you have a URL for that?"

Diane Greco says, "No, sorry...he's at MIT's media lab. "

Amy says, "Like websites vs email/moo."

Jeffrey says, "10 year vision: 5 small publishers doing the most cutting edge work with a variety of new and evolving technical platforms for creating and distributing; 20 large publisher using one or two content creation and distribution platforms (heavily reliant on peer-to-peer) publishin mostly e-lit by established print writers, but also publishing a few works by new elit writers. all the work is downloaded and then "Played" on the client with runtime versions of the creation software. a lease is paid by the downloader that can be increased for increased use of the work (volume or time), and can be passed on to others if the work is released and original leasor loses rights to the work. publishers are making gobs of money, writers are making some (a bit more than in print as a % of profits)"

Deena says, "Jeff, your vision sounds ideal: we get cutting edge and business at the same time"

Scott Rettberg says, "You're living in the new publishing model laboratory."

Deena has made a vow to end these discussions on time, and passes around bottles of Guinness for the road and after talk.

Scott Rettberg says, "A word before I go, just to thank Amy, Laurie, and Mark, for trying out these business models, and for thinking beyond standard definitions of e-book content. It will be interesting to see how all three of your companies are doing with it a year from now, and what else is in the works."

Amy says, "Thanks everyone!"

Deena says, "Yes, I really want to thank our guests, Amy, Laureie, Jeff, and Mark not only for coming, but for experiementing and finfind business models!"

Laurie says, "Thanks to everyone for an interesting discussion -- it was fun!"

Jeffrey says, "Bye bye. thanks!"

Deena says, "Thanks for coming, all, we covered a lot of ground!"

Sue says, "Thanks deena - great interview. Now I am going back to writing my paper book!!"

Sue laughs.

-- End log: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 7:01:21 pm CST

 

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