http://twitter.com/unbounders Author David Brin posted this to his Facebook stream yesterday. How
appropriate to discover this marvelous resource via a well-known
author! David posts the most wonderful things to his Facebook page,
and if you don’t follow him, I highly recommend doing so. Unbound is a crowdsourcing tool. I’m a big fan of crowdsourcing.
Remember Hilary Clinton’s concept, “It takes a village to raise a
child”? That is the basic idea — that it takes a village to do pretty
much anything worthwhile, and that the village may include a broader
range of people than we traditionally expect, and in roles that may
surprise some. Crowdsourced science (also known as citizen science)
gives a way for the general public to assist in generating, gathering,
organizing, and analysing data for various science projects. Unbound,
in part, creates a space to crowdsource funding for authors to write
books. I remember back in grad school writing an entry for a scholarship
award contest, a one page essay. Mine was on the origins of copyright,
and let me tell you that writing a one-page essay on copyright was
quite possible the most difficult piece of writing I ever attempted.
The gist of it was that the original purpose of copyright was to:
a) provide incentives, rewards, and protections for those wonderful
creative people who do what the rest of can’t but need;
b) to do so primarily in a form that fosters relationships between the
creative person and the audience who appreciates their works; and
c) with the primary purpose being to encourage the creative person to
KEEP BEING CREATIVE (as a benefit to society at large).
Well, copyright legislation has been co-opted, and no longer does what
it was intended to do, instead feeding the middleman instead of either
the creative person or the consumer of creative words and goods. In
response to the breakdown in copyright law and the resulting gaps
where it was originally functioning, we’ve seen a number of
alternatives arise, from shareware to open access and open source,
along with Creative Commons licensing and more. Unbound is another
entry into that chasm where copyright used to be. Historically, for an author to write a book they either had to be a
person with a fair amount of leisure, or received donations from a
sponsor. The sponsor would often provide influence or shape to the
creative work, or would be honored in it, either through a thinly
veiled plotline hinting at their achievements, or by name or
characterization. Once publishers moved into prominence, royalty
advances became more typical, or grants from foundations or the
government specifically intended to support creative works that were
unlikely to generate commercial profit. With more and more authors moving outside of commercial publishing to
make their works available, and taking advantage of print on demand
services, the role for publishers is changing quite a bit. Authors
have the choice of starting off independently (indie publishing, so to
speak) and then seeing if a large publisher is interested in picking
up on option after they see how it sells. I’ve bought Kindle books on
Amazon, and seen the author dialog with the readers and go back and
change things. Then I get the option of whether I want the new version
or the one I already read. I’ve seen authors soliciting funding supporton Kickstarter for writing a book, as well as composers
and game designers and a wide variety of creative endeavors — even a comicbook!
Unbound is similar, but focusing specifically on writers and writing. So here’s the story, direct from the folks at Unbound. “We think authors and readers should decide which books get published.
On the Unbound site, authors pitch their ideas directly to you. If you
like what you read, you can pledge your support to help make the book
happen. Everyone who supports an author before they reach 100% of the
funding target gets their name printed in every edition of that book.
All levels include a digital version and immediate access to the
author’s shed while they write the book, and supporters of projects
that don’t reach their target receive a full refund.” What, and who, do you want to be reading?