Novel in 2050 Plan B (SXSWi 2010) Sunday March 14 at 2:00 PM

Final Update: We did the panel (official URL here), and it was great! We hope it will go on podcast eventually, and I’ll post it here. See the panel hashtag #novel2050 .

Update: We will be repeating this session on Monday at 11:00 AM in an honest-to-god SXSW room. For some reason, it’s not on the official schedule yet. Details forthcoming very soon!

I regularly attend South by Southwest Interactive every spring. I noticed that one of the proposed panels by Richard Nash was called the Novel in 2050. A description:

Research shows reading a book for as little as six minutes may cut stress levels in half. But have Twitter-length attention spans decreased demand for novels? What is the future of the “non-networked” book? This panel will debate the relevance of novels in a networked world.
Questions  Answered:

1. Will novels exist in 2050? What will they look like?
2. Have modern Twitter-length attention spans decreased interest in novels?
3. How might crowdsourcing and collaboration contribute to the creation of a novel?
4. What are some recent examples of networked books?
5. Are young people reading novels?
6. Does a novel communicate differently on a Kindle, iPhone, or other electronic device?
7. Is the Internet more of a threat to publishing than film or television were in the 20th century?
8. Why is technology mostly absent in the plots of contemporary novels?
9. How might novels use games and cross-platform storytelling?
10. What about novels should be preserved? What needs to change?

I thought it was a brilliant topic, and (as I predicted last summer), it was voted down.

However, I still thought the topic worth pursuing anyway, and in fact there’s no law forbidding writerly types from arranging an informal get together to discuss Novel in 2050/Future of the Novel/Future of Storytelling.

One ironic thing about SXSW is that even though the panels showcase web design, marketing, technology, gaming, etc, quite a number of writers end up showing up anyway to see what the fuss is about.   Sometimes they are blogging the conference or performing at Fray Cafe or pretending to be web designers or showing up at the publishing panel to complain about the publishing world or peddling spime.  A few years ago,  the Associated Writing Programs was having their annual conference at the same week and location as SXSW;  almost nobody who attended  AWP had ever heard of SXSWi (and vice versa).  That was sad.

One thing I liked about Richard Nash’s  proposed panel is that it was purely speculative and did not concern business plans or technology platforms or marketing analysis or how to monetize things.  It’s just about genre and literary possibilities.  I guess sci fi writers are better at prognostication than people like myself; nonetheless I think all literary types have ideas about what the future will bring and what storytelling forms will prevail and what will happen to the dear old writer in the meantime.

So then, I have decided to organize an informal panel about the topic anyway, with the blessing of Richard Nash (who will be presenting at another more practical panel  about marketing to subcultures on Sunday).  Mr. Nash probably won’t be able to make this informal panel, but that’s ok;  we’ll manage without him.  It won’t be a panel in the sense that there will be microphones and name plates. Instead it will be more like a core conversation where a Bunch of People Sit Around and Discuss Things (BOPSAADT).

Time: Update: We may repeat this as a semi-official panel on Monday at 11:00 . Awaiting details. Stay tuned.

Location: Main Convention Center,  3rd floor, large open area at the end of hallway and close to Room 10A and 10B . It’s close to the elevators and a set of double doors and could easily accommodate 2-20 people.  (See Update 4)

Contact Information: robertdotnagle

RSVP: not necessary, but if you plan to attend, it would be nice to add a comment on this post. Also, if you have an ideas for how to steer this session, feel free to suggest it below.  Important Note: if you put you include your email on the comment form, I will drop you a line Saturday line when I have a definite room.

Finally, a quote from author Jack Matthews about the impact of technology on literature:

Will any conceivable sort of electronic gadgetry prove useful in understanding the subtleties of language and custom implicated in the works of Anthony Trollope or Henry James? Could anybody seriously argue that the availability of such electronic means would have enlarged or enriched their own clear and complex vision of life? … The electronic revolution has done nothing to invalidate the old truths, just as it has not provided any new means for exposing any of the old idiocies that have permeated and probably always will permeate the human condition.

Update 1: Richard Nash says he will be there. Check out Richard Nash’s insightful interview he gave to Oreilly last month.

Update 2: I dub the twitter hashtag  novel2050planb the official hashtag for this event.

Update 3 (Thur AM). Assuming that more than 2 or 3 people show up, I’ll make a recording of the event. I’ll also look into having a conference call if there is serious interest.

Update 4 ( Sat 3:00 PM). Apparently finding an empty room is harder than expected. (They are piping in keynotes into all the usual rooms and the one offsite place I know about was booked).  So I’ve found a very informal meeting space,  on 3rd floor very close to Room 10A or 10B.  (In the hallway, there is a wide open space by the double doors and the elevator).  It’s relatively quiet/isolated; we’d have to camp out on the floor, and there’s an outlet (and I can bring a power chord).  It’s a big space; it could easily accommodate a medium sized discussion group of 2-25 people.   I’ll put up signs.  Please note: although I don’t expect this location to change, you probably should check this or twitter for updates. (I’ll put up a sign on this informal area if it changes.

Update 5  (Sun 3:30) We may do a repeat of this session as a “official” panel in an actual SXSW room on Monday at 11:00 AM. Awaiting details.




7 responses to “Novel in 2050 Plan B (SXSWi 2010) Sunday March 14 at 2:00 PM”

  1. Richard Nash Avatar

    I do hope to make it. This is mad cool.

  2. Matt Stewart Avatar

    totally badass. would like to go as well.

  3. Valerie Casey Avatar

    Sounds amazing – I wish I could make it!

  4. Joanne McNeil Avatar

    Ahhh!! I’m going to be in New York. So happy though that the panel lives on

  5. Maria Avatar

    Totally into this! Please let me know the location.

  6. Robert Nagle Avatar

    Sorry, Valerie, I’ll definitely catch your presentation on podcast. The reason I chose that time is that during keynotes all the rooms are empty. If we make some sort of permanent record of this event (recording, blogpost, transcript) I’ll let people know.

  7. Jay Bushman Avatar

    Sorry I didn’t make this – was it recorded?

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