TedxVorobyovy-Gory – Dmitry Glukhovsky – Literature 2.0


Good evening, dear friends! I wouldn’t be able to keep up with American speakers,
because Soviet people are not taught to speak up. I’ll tell you my story in short, how it began and where it led to, by example of my book “Metro 2033”, some of you might have read. I wrote “Metro 2033” in 2002, 8 years ago. I tried hard to publish it, but failed. Nobody needed this text, nobody believed in it. They thought it was very vague and not meeting the standards,
so I got refusals from 10 publishers. I owe my success to the Internet very much,
to the new communication and information-spreading technologies, and that is why I was invited to come here today. I decided to publish my work by myself,
somehow created my own website in html and flash,
uploaded the text and made it available to anyone for free. It is still there. In the meantime several millions of users have read the book, and the number of its printed and sold copies
makes up approximately half a million, that is very good for an author who was first offered
to issue a mere 3,000 copies. I achieved such stunning results thanks to the possibility
to place the text in web, thanks to the idea of inviting other users
to cooperate and create the text together. They had the opportunity to read the text for free,
they didn’t have to go to the library or to the bookshop
in order to get the text – entering the website was enough. Besides, readers had an impact on the text,
which was created with their help, actually online. I was writing chapter upon chapter posting it on the official site
and I was getting feedback, comments, and reviews. I considered it and took it into account. Thus, in 2005 when the book had been finished in the interactive way
with free distribution, the number of readers
reached several dozens of thousands. Several publishers were competing for the right to issue “Metro 2033”. No advertising can make a bestseller. Books, unlike yoghurts, autos
and even films, can be recommended to you only by your friends. Unfortunately or fortunately, no advertising can turn a poor,
boring and uninspiring book into a bestseller. Your friends should recommend it to you and the fact that the book has been available on the Internet for free
allows you to tell your friend about it and if he or she likes it
you can recommend it to someone else. “Metro 2033” has become a popular novel and a bestseller
thanks to the free access and text distribution. Today I’ve decided to develop this story further and transform
Metro 2033 from a single book into a new fantasy world. The book describes the Earth of 2033. The planet is suffering the consequences of a nuclear war,
which, I suppose, will happen this year or in one-two years. Then all sitting here will have to survive upon the remains of the civilization. Moscow metro is supposed to be the last haven
where people will be able to live for a while. In fact, Moscow metro was built as the biggest bomb shelter in the world; it is its second, but possibly major, purpose. The only city mentioned in the book is Moscow, however,
it is said that there are other cities and countries, but their fate is obscure. Now I don’t want to devote the rest of my life to describing
the post-nuclear metro, I’ve invited everyone
to take part in this creative project. Since the beginning of the year seven books
from the “Metro 2033: The Universe”
series have been released and the eighth is under way. These books are written by both professionals and amateurs,
people who come from the Internet. Their works are first published on the “Metro 2033”
official website and if the readers approve and vote for them,
the virtual authors go real and their books are published
with the edition of 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 copies. Apart from this, we decided to turn this project
into a global creative experiment. It is supposed to be multicultural and multilingual one. Not only Russian but foreign authors have already finished
or still writing their own stories referring to the “Metro 2033” world. English author Grant McMaster has finished
the novel “Metro 2033: Britannia” this week. All the books, as if pieces of a puzzle, form a coherent,
united and interconnected world of 2033. There are novels set in Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Rostov, Novosibirsk,
Vladivostok, on the Kola Peninsula and now in London. Yesterday I came back from Venice
where I had a meeting with an Italian author. He will be describing the adventures of a Catholic monk
who travels from Rome to Venice and backwards. All the novels are written in different languages,
and authors from India, Japan, Germany and France are joining us. When we launch the online global portal metro2033.com,
people posting their works will have the opportunity
to be in touch with their readers and fans and create this imaginary, a little bit gloomy,
but optimistic world of 2033. Now we are on the threshold of a new epoch.   According to some publishing houses, my project Metro 2033
was just one electronic text but it turned into global success. So far the book has been translated into 30 languages
and great number of copies were issued in Russia only.   And basing on my experience and in relation to culture and literature and,
first of all, to forum and the means of text creation
we are trying to convert it into something new. The point is that for the first time in the history of literature
people from different countries can create a united and coherent world and that this story has a certain moral message and context,
because these books are anti-utopias and they make us think. There is also some innovation presented in our work
and something quite new, impossible to appear earlier Internet. The age of Literature 2.0 has already started. Literature 2.0 is created with the help of readers. This kind of literature is usually online
and it uses readers as beta testers. I have written a certain text but I am not completely sure in it.
Readers can read the text before the editor or critics. These people would make comments, express their approval
or dislikes, inspire me to continue and they would also
point out different shortcomings. I’d listen to them. And right before I send the text to my editor
I’ll make some changes important to my target audience,
they can tell me what they like or not, not to publishers or critics. Literature now is becoming more online, and, besides,
free in distribution. In other words, the age of «free literary
shareware» and «open source» is coming. Nowadays literature is becoming interactive and free, we are witnessing
the beginning of the age of open source and shareware. Maybe in 2 or 3 years the publishers will tighten the screws
and make us buy electronic versions of books exclusively
on the official sites like Amazon and Ozon. But today, I think, we should spread literature online for free. There is no other reliable and efficient way for an unknown
writer to become popular but to post one’s work
on the Internet for free, as I did myself. If you can find your readers, prove that your text is interesting
and that you have your own fans, you can go to a publisher
and become a real published author with the help
of your Internet popularity. So, the main things are free distribution and interactive creation. With the advent of online text publishing and sharing,
say on proza.ru or Lifejournal, the times when you created
your work once and for good and left it unchanged have passed. Now the text is quite a changeable substance.
It is like plasticine changeable and always warm. When I see some imperfections of my text, novel or poem,
I can always improve them. That is why the text never freezes. Actually, I distribute patches for my published works. Such things never happened before. Anyway, it seems that the Internet, as a visual culture
based on texts, videos and pictures helped us
actually to start reading and writing again. The number of people who are writing nowadays
cannot be compared to people who wrote back
in the whole history of mankind. Even if we talk rot on forums, even if in those pink diaries
girls share their feelings about first kisses, it doesn’t matter because it is beyond any comparison to how much our fathers
and grandfathers used to write and because once again
we enter the epoch of written culture. And this is the epoch when all people can write but it is
a big question whether to publish everyone. But nevertheless, the Internet is undoubtedly changing us. The number of writers is increasing and I hope that
the Internet will provide us with great talents. And being an Internet-made person, I daily pray for it. In my opinion, the Internet has certainly is changing the world,
and modern art, especially literature, is no exception. And as a person who is at the center of these cultural processes –
at least formwise – I am very interested in investigating,
developing it and simply experimenting on it. Because at that very moment when you think of creative activity,
of literature as an experiment, when you discover something new in it,
you can share it with other people. Whatever, I just tried to share my personal experience and
present the universe of “Metro 2033” to you. As for the Internet, I think, you have
already discovered it by yourselves. Thank you

5 thoughts on “TedxVorobyovy-Gory – Dmitry Glukhovsky – Literature 2.0

  1. That's actually very inspiring how he was able to build the book series from the ground up with his fans/those that are interested

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