Thursday, March 18, 2004

Among the Literati LIV

While Douglas Rushkoff claims that his novel Exit Strategy is the first open-source novel, I'd suggest that the first such experiment truly deserving the label "open source" might be Rick Heller's Smart Genes. Beyond seeking footnotes and amendments -- even Cory Doctorow's iterative near-open source approach as he emails portions of his new writing seeking feedback as he writes -- Heller has put the entire text of his novel online as a Wiki.

"Anyone can edit it," he writes. "It may be better or it may be worse than the released version." But in the end, it turns out that he's not going all the way.

Because not all changes are for the good, I have posted a stable, released version of the novel. I will review changes that readers make, and merge those I think are good into a new release of the novel. I hope to be liberal in including readers' changes, but those which I don't believe would strengthen the novel will be rolled back.

That said, he does encourage contributors to save their own changed sections in personal areas of the Wiki. Imagine, coupled with a Creative Commons license, Heller could end up with hundreds of parallel -- yet independently original -- versions of the novel.

Smart genes, indeed.

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