The other night I learned that in the 1700’s when the Steam Engine was invented. Human knowledge doubled every 120 years. Today it doubles every 2 years. By 2020 it will double every 72 hours. Think about it. What does this mean for us as a species and even more importantly what does it mean for us as writers of fiction.
I believe that people will become experts at finding information. We won’t know things - we will know where to find it. I think our kids are already well on the way. They know how to navigate the web, finding the answers to their questions quickly, and surfing across the top, rarely diving in. Think about how almost every procedure is written out in fine detail. Every bureaucratic directive is instantly propagated around the world. Very few people are experts on one thing and no one is an expert on everything.
Like the Missouri River, our knowledge will be a mile wide and an inch deep. The one exception will be “Fictional Stories”. Novels will be the only place that people take the time and effort to totally live life through someone else’s experiences.
I believe very strongly that Novels are different from other forms of entertainment be they games, TV, web surfing, or anything else dealing with information flow. When the reader falls down that rabbit hole they experience the story in the first person. They feel, touch, smell, and hear. I think that Novels will be the escape from a world full of surface shimmers. The one place a person can go to get away from information overload.
We need to remember this, we need to insure the reader experiences the story at the sensory level. That we show them new things and lead them to new places they wouldn’t have found by surfing across the top.
Reading “A Tale of Two Cities” is different than reading a web site about the French Revolution. Diving into “The Grapes of Wrath” is not the same as playing Mario Cart. I believe people will want more of these experiences as they get inundated with more information. What do you think?