Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blender 3D

Earlier this week - just for a bit of fun - I downloaded the Blender 3D modelling software.

The software has been developed in the open source manner, and I've been having a great time learning not to be frightened by the overly fiendish user interface.

I've been using the Wikibooks Blender 3D: Noob to Pro tutorial-cum-reference book to help me learn how to drive the software. Like Blender itself, the Wikibook is a collaborative effort from people giving their time freely to produce something useful. Like Blender, the wikibook is freely distributed.

And yet the wierdest thing is that if I honed my 3D modelling skills well enough I could go away and get a proper job which paid me lots of money for my new skills and I wouldn't be obliged to pay the software developers or Wikibook authors a penny in conmpensation.

Though something tells me that the chances of me getting a graphics modelling job anytime before retirement are remote.

So, Rik. What's all this got to do with poetry?

Well, dear readers (and I hope you're both sitting comfortably), when I first decided to learn to write poetry I went to a real life poetry workshop, and paid a lot of money (relative to my income at the time) for the education I received. I also bought poetry how-to books. If I had wanted detailed critique I could have sent a selection of poems off to an editor or professional critic for their - renumerated - opinion on my work. If I wanted to enter my poems into a competition I'd have to pay an entrance fee. If I wanted to submit my work to a poetry magazine it was commonly expected that I would take out a subscription to the magazine (though a fat lot of good that attempt at bribery achieved). Creative writing courses were rare beasts in those days, but weekend workshops and short courses taught by "professional" poets were available - if you had the money.

The internet changed all that.

Today I can go to one venue to workshop my poetry for free - all that's expected of me is to offer critiques on other people's poems in return. I can go to other venues to just post poems and trade creative insults with trolls and lesser scum. I can submit my work to online magazines, and read online magazines, without the need to fork out wads of cash for the privelige. I can get an education for free from any number of poetry resources available - for free - on the web. I can showcase my poems in the way that I want them presented to the world. I can publish my poems in hardback. I can play poetry-related games with people in North and South America, Europe and Asia, Africa, Australia and even people living north of Watford! I can tape myself so people can hear me - even see me - reading my own poems.

All for free.

Internet poetry is not the same as traditional poetry. The reach of the internet is magnitudes larger than real-life poetry. The interactivity of the internet is changing the writer-publisher-reader relationship out of all recognition. It's not enough for an internet poet to understand, write and perform poetry: they need to understand about communications and information theory, web practicalities and PR opportunities. Poets are changing; audiences are changing; opportunities for the development of poetry itself are changing.

I like this Brave New World. Every day is a Brand New Adventure!

1 comment:

  1. I knew there was a reason for the internet apart from providing porn for every possible fetish!

    No seriously, it's a great thing, and it gives all sorts of people who would never be able to give the time/money/heart strain to go to real world classes the opportunity to learn, about anything, not jus poetry.

    I'm always amazed about how egalitarian the society is, seeing as most people access it through a service provided by a monopoly. It is a whole world of its own, with hierarchies and tribes and morals and rules, and somehow it works, and stratifies itself, without any formal control.

    It'll be interesting to read the sociology papers in about 10/20 years, when internet culture is totally ingrained in real society (it isn't there quite yet) about the development of this entirely fictitious world. I wonder what the long term effects will really be, I doubt that everyone will become fat and isolated, but there is no going back from the possibility of living almost entirely in an imaginary space.