G-Mail, Facebook and anywhere else I have an online account save every one of my likes, messages, and account activity. They track this information to try to learn more about me, and even sell it to other people who want to sell me things. Part of me would be bothered by this, but really, what did any of us expect?
Actually, for me this question of trying to find out about someone through their online activity sparks another. A lot of the great authors have had books collected of their letters and correspondence. I have a book sitting on my shelves right now that I rescued from oblivion collecting the letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. (In the 10 years it’s been sitting on my shelf I have yet to read it but that’s beside the point).
My question is, will the great authors of our era have books collected of their e-mails, tweets, blog posts, and other preferences?
What is the purpose of a book of collected letters anyway? Is it a way of gaining insight on an authors private life, their interactions with people, of trying to connect with them on a deeper level?
How do we learn about authors today? Well, almost anyone trying to get published, or who is self-publishing now is online, trying to build an audience, communicate themselves, their process, their random thoughts and questions of the day. Every day in the modern world is like reading one of these books. Some authors collect their blog posts into books, like John Scalzi, but even those that don’t share a lot more of themselves than any generation. Denis Leary and many others publish their tweets. And we all share hilarious e-mail correspondence we come across.
But is there still a place for books like the one I rescued, or do we feel we already know so much about each other that such a book would be redundant?
Just something I’m thinking about. What do you think?