A Christmas video for you... followed by what I think this video means for the future of publishing.
Kind of awesome, yes?
The drummer here is Sean Quigley, a sixteen-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). And what's remarkable here is not just that he can sing and drum, but that he rewrote all the music himself, played all the instruments, and directed and filmed and edited it (using a simple SLR digital camera). This is a true micro-production. It was made with talent, a standard digital camera, and a home computer.
A) this says something about the kid's talent. 1.3 million views and counting... I don't know how many downloads he's had, but probably a lot. In fact, he probably won't need a paper route or a job at McD's any time soon.
And B), I think this says something about the future of publishing and the digital revolution. I was going to say e-book, but why be limiting? Why think that ebooks are any sort of end point?
We've seen the rise of ebooks over the last few years, and we're still trying to figure out this new world. What is it, and how exactly do we use it? And this video really struck home to me the fact that I probably won't be the one to figure it out, to find a way to fully maximize the digital frontier in the process of making art.
But it might be my children.
I have a feeling that the Ebook (Digital) Overlords will not fully rise until the next generation, from children who grew up in a digital world, who have lived and breathed it and know only this. This video is, yes, a product of talent, but it also strikes me that this is someone utterly familiar with this new world. The technology of creation and editing and streaming and the omnipresence of Youtube's global market.
If I wanted to make a video, I would likely have to Google a bunch of How To explanations. Now, talent (if I happened to have any) and perseverence might, in the end, allow me to create something fine, depending on how well I teach myself the knowledge I need. But I don't think it will ever be the same as someone who has grown up in this, someone for whom these processes are as common as putting bread in the toaster. Toast! Wow! I'm sure, in my parent's generation, there were millions who were offput by computers and microwave ovens. Certainly, many adopted these things, and started to figure out how to use them. But for my generation these things have become second nature.
And now our children have a new digital age to grow up in. It strikes me that, in publishing, we are building something. Something for them. We're exploring the boundaries of this new world, charting and mapping, and settling here and there, trying to carve out a home, a living, a future. But the real future, the phantasmal cities of the imagination, may come from the children of these settlers and explorers.
People who know me will know that I love paper books. Everything about them: their individuality, their distinctness, their feel, their smell, the purity of how they operate in the imagination. And I hope they live in the world forever. But I can't deny that the future will be shared with (and perhaps dominated by) digital books and intertextual digital art. And I'm curious to see what this will look like. I'm curious to see what my children will make of this new world, and what strange new cityscapes will arise from the tapping of their fingertips.