Mark Waid: We Can Define Publishing For The 21st Century

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Like it or not, downloading is here. Torrents and filesharing are here. That’s not going away. I’m not here to attack it or defend it–I’m not going to change anyone’s mind either way, and everyone in America at this point has anecdotal evidence “proving” how it hurts or helps the medium–but I am here to say it isn’t going away–and fear of it, fear of filesharing, fear of illegal downloading, fear of how the internet changes publishing in the 21st century, that’s a legitimate fear, because we’re all worried about putting food on the table and leaving a legacy for our children, but we’re using our energy on something we can’t stop, because filesharing is not going away.

And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because people “like stealing.” It’s because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook–they’re all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid–that’s the era we’re entering. And whether or not you’re sharing things that technically aren’t yours to share, whether or not you’re angry because you see this as a “generation of entitlement,” that’s not the issue–the issue is, it’s happening, and the internet’s ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value. And I understand if you are morally outraged about it and you believe to your core that an entire generation is criminal and they’re taking food off your table, I respect that.

But moral outrage is often how we deal with fear. It’s a false sense of empowerment in the face of fear. And I’m here to tell you, that if at core you’re reacting not out of moral outrage but out of fear of the internet and the whole way publishing seems to be headed–that’s good news. Because that’s something we can fix.

Comic creator and Boom! Studios CEO Mark Waid’s keynote address at last weekend’s Harvey Awards ceremony on the subject of how the digital world impacts print publishing may have provoked an argument with Mad magazine great Sergio Aragones and curiosity from those who weren’t there to hear it, but it deserves so much more. Unhappy with the delivery of the speech itself – he calls it “I just listened to a partial recording, and while it was probably a solid double and not nearly as botched as I want to remember, to my ears, that speech was an absolute train wreck” – Waid has reconstructed the speech and shared it online. Go and read. It’s great stuff.

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