(1) Throughout this work, when I refer to artists, the reader should assume that this includes fine artists, composers, novelists, poets, non-fiction authors, graphic designers, software engineers, inventors...in short, anyone who creates something original.
(2) This is not a value judgement, it is merely an assumption (possibly erroneous) that a photographer is able to take better pictures with a more expensive camera.
(3) Again, this is not meant to be a value judgement, but is another assumption (likewise possibly erroneous), that people who are motivated by nothing more than the prospect of making a fast buck will churn out lower quality art than those who have a higher purpose.
(4) This includes 15,153 reprints and new editions, 1,598 translations and 59 limited editions. Of these, 898 are listed as poetry, 7,221 as fiction and a staggering 2,150 as biography. [Whitakers Almanack 1991, (page 1094), published by Whitaker, London, (1990)]. This listing may be the most comprehensive, but it is by no means inclusive. Also listed are 697 trade titles, many of which may be directories which amount to little more than lists of companies, products, etc, but there are, undoubtedly, numerous small press titles published every year, including hundreds of poetry collections and some quite substantial books, which are not listed because their publishers do not apply for ISBNs.
(5) Published by Reed, this directory (Volume 1: UNITED KINGDOM) calls itself “An alphabetical list of almost 13,000 titles which publish at least once a year in the UK”, (page iii). On page ii, the publishers offer the following breakdown: (including) 136 daily newspapers, 2,020 regional newspapers and 7,805 periodicals.
(6) This is as tragic for society as it is sad for the artists concerned. Somewhere out there is another Shakespeare whose verse will never be recited, another Bach whose music will never be performed, another Van Gogh whose paintings will never hang on any gallery’s wall...
(7) I am reminded here of an advertisement I once read, placed by a lyric writer in search of a collaborator. It began “Published lyricist, contractually free...” A not-unnecessarily cynical translation of this reads as follows: “I write lyrics, like five million other people in this country. I haven’t got a contract, nor has any publisher ever expressed the slightest interest in any of my lyrics, but earlier this year when my boss was away for a couple of days I used the office photocopier to publish some of my lyrics which I then mailed to half a dozen music publishers, my best friend and the editor of the parish magazine.”
(8) There is a saying that in programming there is always more than one way to solve a particular problem.
(9) Corporate licences are available.
(10) A backup copy is allowed; the very first thing every sensible purchaser does as soon as he opens the package is make a spare copy of the program to stash away as insurance against theft, fire, flood, or most likely, some sort of mechanical corruption: virus, magnetic anomaly, etc.
(11) In practice this would mean deleting the program files or reformatting the disks; it is not necessary to physically destroy the actual medium.
(12) The actual wording of such agreements is a lot more complex; it has been simplified here for the sake of clarity. And to avoid breach of copyright!
(13) Which is precisely where most novelists get!
(14) It is always possible to find a publisher, there are several vanity publishers who will publish virtually any book provided you pay them enough, but since the advent of desktop publishing, the combination of new technology and falling costs means that it is now far more cost effective for an author to publish his work himself. In fact, actually publishing a book has never been difficult, money excepted, the real problem has always been, and remains, distribution.
(15) With the rise of the office photocopier, this has become a reality. Every large corporation now has its own (unofficial) bard.
(16) The reason for this is that, unlike audio or video tapes, where on duplication some loss of quality is inevitable, copies of floppy disks are perfect clones.
(17) There are innumerable excellent programs in the public domain, from games to wordprocessors to Fractint (of which more anon).
(18) Shareware program disks may be sold, and indeed are sold, through shareware libraries, but registration is direct with the author or his agent.
(19) Later, this evolved into a database.
(20) The above information is extracted from an article, Dr Filefinder’s Opinions - Part 2, which appeared in PC Shareware Magazine, Volume 1, No 7, July 1991.
(21) See for example, Computer Shopper, page 1, issue 43, September 1991.
(22) On a busy day, I personally will use the following programs: wordprocessor, DTP, spreadsheet, comms, music program, one compiler, one utility and perhaps a computer game - a grand total of eight programs. Many users only ever use their PCs for wordprocessing.
(23) If anything, the explosion in software development is likely to accelerate as an increasing percentage of the population becomes computer literate.
(24) I had a personal experience of this in my short lived incarnation as a software developer, though I don’t claim to be any sort of genius. I wrote two programs, one very original. The first was a DOS tutorial for Version 3.3. Almost before I’d finished it, DOS was in Version 4, it’s now in Version 6+. I advertised it free in a computer magazine and received one order; I gave another copy to a friend who runs a resources centre, and to the best of my knowledge he never used it. I gave another copy to my best friend and made sure that was used, albeit once, because I half coaxed and half bullied his youngest daughter into using it.
The second program was more of a success, it was a template program for on-line poets; I sent a press release to a writers’ magazine, they published it, and several people wrote and asked for copies. I also uploaded it to CIX. Two people even wrote and asked for the upgrade - Version 2 - and both sent me very complimentary letters. One of my correspondents, Mr Nadeem Azam, an author, wrote to me on 7 March 1993, “It was a most remarkable program and I am very grateful for it. Who knows, it could help pioneer a new art form?” Which was precisely my intention. Well, sigh, at least he noticed.
Actually, I did unleash some other programs onto the world: Windows 3.1 And The End Of War (a pamphlet on disk), among other things, but these were all basically adaptations of the on-line poets’ template program. For the record, all these freeware programs were written in QuickBasic 4.5; the template program will also run under GWBasic.
(25) The British Library archive contains some 18 million books, and five shelf miles are added every year!
(26) This does not mean that individual artists will not achieve spectacular success and acclaim; indeed, once a certain level of recognition has been attained on merit, a great deal more is usually forthcoming, sometimes quite undeservedly.
(27) Since this article was written the price of hard disks has plummeted and their capacity has exploded. Anyone using a hard disk of less than 100Mb capacity should now go and hide his head in shame. Including me.
(28) Not all change is change for the better; most people would consider the development of nuclear, germ and chemical weapons to be the sort of progress we would all be very much better off without.
(29) This was before I had analysed the Green Movement’s anti-human dogma in any depth.
(30) If the reader will pardon this apparent contradiction in terms.
(31) Recently, the company released Visual Basic, which can be viewed either as an upgrade or as a separate but compatible product. Doubtless, by the time this paper goes to print there will be yet another upgrade on the market. * The author purchased QuickBASIC from a warehouse for £51.70 including VAT, but could have paid twice as much from a retail outlet. Shop around and save a bundle!
* Yes, there is!
(32) This was in 1991; I have no idea what version it is in now.
(33) From an equally charming folk tale of Eastern European origin related in Appendix B of the Fractint manual. (Which is included on the disk).
(34) See the article, Free Thinking, by Charles Stross, published in Computer Shopper, October 1991, issue 44, pages 261-2 & 4.
(35) To take just one example, Thomas Hanlin III is the author of the shareware program ADVBAS (library routines for the QuickBASIC compiler). Like many shareware authors, he offers technical support for people who buy his programs. (Customers!) In the on-line manual he states: “If you are a contributor...feel free to call if the situation gets out of hand.”
Which is fair enough, but next he goes on to say, “If you are not...please send a SASE, and I’ll get back to you. If you don’t care enough to contribute the minimal fee I ask, you should not expect me to provide services.” In other words: Even though there’s nothing in it for me, I’ll help you out. What is this if not idealism?
(36) Computer Shopper, page 261, (op cit).
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