Burst Culture

May 27th, 2007 | brainjuice

(Crossposted from Bad Signal)

I’d like you to ignore, for a while, anything that smacks of Web 3.0, or even Web 2.0, or any of the other dumb ideas that distract from production of actual content on the web. Instead, consider these simple things:

* The hurdle to credible publishing on the web, now, is the nine dollars it costs to buy a domain name from GoDaddy, which can be mapped on to a free Tumblr or Blogger space.

* Monetisation through a combination of ad programs like Indieclick or Federated Media, clickthrough systems like Amazon Associates, and merchandise operations like Cafe Press (which I’m assured is much better now)…do actually work.

* (The reaction to BoingBoing becoming a “band-managed” operation that paid its writers a salary out of the ad revenue should have been seismic. And it’s so obvious: what else is a groupblog but a daily (free!) magazine run according to the demands of the medium of the web?)

* 365Tomorrows was an ideal reaction to sf publishing in new media, the concept of flash fiction and the way the medium works. 100-word bursts of speculative fiction, daily. JR Blackwell’s gotten herself a career out of it. And note how 365T kept producing and fulfilled its mandate even as sf sites and sf print magazines died on either side of it.

* How far behind the curve is the sf publishing community? When International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day came around, hundreds of writers of gift and ambition ran short work for free on the web. This came about following a recently-resigned official of the Science Fiction Writers of America calling those who produce material for the web SCABS.

* Comics Foundry retreated from its position as a web “magazine” (though it was aping print magazine elements, rather than adopting the medium of the web fully, as I recall) to try and become a print magazine. And was summarily rejected for distribution by Diamond. They’re out time and money on a project that would have seen them, if successful, available in fewer venues and read by fewer people than if they’d stayed accessible by anyone with an internet-ready device.

* I love print. I love magazines that commit and pay for long articles and long fiction. The web rewards neither approach. It’s a packeted medium, a surf medium. Short bursts are the way to go. The web isn’t a replacement medium — it’s *another” medium. That said, if your concept of a magazine is something designed in one-page bursts, or three pages that only carry 500 words due to the mass of images, then, really, you’re not doing anything the web can’t do better, are you?

* Every day, millions of people download single lumps of data that take them three minutes to consume. They’re called mp3s. It’s a burst culture. Embrace the idea for a while.

* Bursts aren’t contentless, nor do they denote the end of Attention Span. If attention span was dead, JK Rowling wouldn’t be selling paperbacks thick enough to choke a pig, and Neal Stephenson wouldn’t be making a living off books the size of the first bedsit I lived in.

* None of this is new thinking. None of it. And yet, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop all year. But time and again I’ve seen print magazines that should have been web objects all along launch and die — and, in most cases, reconfigure on the web. What was the point? Yes, back in the 90s BoingBoing did it, but web publishing was in its infancy then.

* And just a thought: if you’re an sf writer grappling for space in one of the fiction magazines for seven cents a word or whatever the rate is now — what exactly are you losing by teaming with writers of like mind, going to the web and convincing a friend to work out the monetising bells and whistles for you?

And…well, that wasn’t a burst so much as a hod of bricks, was it? Oops.

– W

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31 Responses to “Burst Culture”

  1. [...] is just well said – Burst Culture. (by Warren [...]

  2. [...] warrenellis.com » Blog Archive » Burst Culture The web is a packeted medium, a surf medium. Short bursts are the way to go. Every day, millions of people download single lumps of data that take them three minutes to consume. They’re called mp3s. It’s a burst culture. Embrace the idea for a while. (tags: warrenellis brainjuice burstculture boingboing publishing monetisation adsense scifi magazine attentionspan internet medium consumer thought) Filed under: del.icio.us   |   [...]

  3. [...] Link [...]

  4. [...] on the topic of new media publishing for quite some time. I now link to Ellis’ thoughts on Burst Culture mostly so I can refer back to it later. Perhaps the most notable thought: attention span [...]

  5. [...] Ellis has an inspiring cut-to-the-chase essay on “Burst Culture” that says we should be creating content for the web – the kind of short-burst content that [...]

  6. [...] Ellis has this piece on publishing on the web. Its an intriguing rant delivered by burst and states the bleeding obvious. The fact that it needs [...]

  7. [...] Warren Ellis has written a short rant on the increasing viability of online culture that’s worth a read. [...]

  8. [...] una traduzione libera ed approssimativa dall’inglese del testo di Warren Ellis intitolato “Burst Culture”, originariamente tratto da “Bad Signal”, la sua newsletter via email. Mi piacerebbe [...]

  9. [...] Warren Ellis’ short rants on web culture, web fiction, web money, and all things going web. [...]

  10. Linkage #003…

    Κανονικά θα ανέβαζα μια πραγματεία πάνω στην πειρατεία, τις επιπτώσεις της στην κοινωνία και πώς πρέπει…

  11. [...] Graphic novelist Warren Ellis’s comments get to some of the key differences between print and elecontric media — “the web isn’t a replacement medium — it’s *another” medium.” The gist of his observations is that the web is a “burst” medium. Information (or opinion) is served up in quicker helpings. Following are a couple more selections from his post on this subject. [...]

  12. [...] Proof (as if proof were required) of the old adage that “if you don’t blog about it today, BoingBoing will have pipped you to the post tomorrow” … but better late than never; here’s a sterling post from Warren Ellis on internet publishing and ‘burst culture’. [...]

  13. [...] Burst Culture (Essay) by Warren Ellis [warrenellis.com] Bursts, chunks and web-publishing! Quote: “If attention span was dead, JK Rowling wouldn’t be selling paperbacks thick enough to choke a pig… ” [Via] (tags: blog copyright internet literature web2.0 warrenellis culture digitalculture participatoryculture) [...]

  14. [...] 28 05 2007 Warren Ellis maps burst culture here. Here’s a snip, but you should read the whole thing.  (Of course.) * I love print. I love [...]

  15. [...] warrenellis.com » Blog Archive » Burst Culture nice (tags: web-publishing warrenellis) [...]

  16. [...] Burst Culture – Warren Ellis on flash fiction, SF, and why the web is another medium, not a replacement medium. [...]

  17. [...] Link. [...]

  18. [...] Link [...]

  19. Ellis on Burst Culture…

    I don’t really know a lot of adults who read comics or graphic novels on a regular basis, but I’ve lent the Transmetropolitan series to several people (more info on Wikipedia), and more than one in two rushed over to…

  20. [...] Link [...]

  21. [...] you never know who might be watching, don’t you? A great post to start of with is his recent piece on burst culture, in which he uses several short but well known examples (or ‘bursts’, if you want to) [...]

  22. [...] funny how things happen. I was just reading this post from Wil Wheaton, where he talks about the burst culture as described by Warren Ellis. Warren is specifically talking about sci-fi writers who publish short [...]

  23. [...] Zip over to Warren’s blog and zing…there is an explanation of the burst idea. His thoughts… [...]

  24. [...] shames me the most is that I still find little of interest. Burst culture wearies me. I digest digests most of which do nothing more than link back to the same few nuggets [...]

  25. [...] warrenellis.com » Burst Culture Your weekend inspiration courtesy of Mr. Ellis. [...]

  26. [...] recently posted a Burst Culture call-to-arms for creators to take the opportunities that are available online and to adapt their creative [...]

  27. [...] From his blog [...]

  28. [...] on the Web (or even if you don’t) then you should read this rant from Warren Ellis about the current Burst Culture of the Web. If you don’t have time to read it then at least take this point away from it … The [...]

  29. [...] Ellis, the colorful British writer, writes about Burst Culture. * Every day, millions of people download single lumps of data that take them three minutes to [...]

  30. [...] Warren Ellis wrote a great post the other day about “Burst Culture”. He’s got some thought-provoking observations [...]

  31. [...] Warren Ellis » Burst Culture I’d like you to ignore, for a while, anything that smacks of Web 3.0, or even Web 2.0, or any of the other dumb ideas that distract from production of actual content on the web. Instead, consider these simple things: (tags: article blog blogging boingboing books business comics community culture writing warrenellis burst) Filed under : links | [...]