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Are You a Literary Worker?

Invisible Seattle, The Novel of Seattle, by Seattle Seattle – New York – Paris: Function Industries Press, 1987 ISBN 0-930257-05-7

Long story short: In 1983 a city wrote a novel. The city in question was the City of Seattle. The novel in question was a piece of hard-boiled fiction titled Invisible Seattle. The idea behind this project was: If it takes a village to raise a child, then – regardless of what you might have been told – it surely takes a city to write a novel.

The question: Are you a literary worker?

The answer (one of many possible): Yes. Why? Well… why not? But also, what is there left to be if not a literary worker? A literary celebrity? C'mon, not even the commercial literary greats can look forward to getting stalked by paparazzi or invited to late night talk shows. Face it, literature has become inconspicuous enough to be quoted on bottled water, as ubiquitous as toilet paper. Thus in order to continue to produce and deal with it one has to come to terms with being a worker, whatever being a worker might mean in the twentyteens. Here (now) traditional dichotomies: writer-reader, writer-translator, writer-editor, writer-publisher… no longer apply (if, indeed, they have ever applied) – in order to maintain their writerly identity a writer need to be a jack-of-all-trades and to don (as the crew responsible for Invisible Seattle did) overalls and hardhats.

Not convinced? Consider only how much material (content) gets funneled through the Internet, a medium that to a large extent remains text-propelled:

“In 2014, researchers published a study in the journal Supercomputing Frontiers and Innovations estimating the storage capacity of the Internet at 10^24 bytes, or 1 million exabytes. A byte is a data unit comprising 8 bits, and is equal to a single character in one of the words you're reading now. An exabyte is 1 billion billion bytes…

If all of these bits and bytes feel a little abstract, don't worry: In 2015, researchers tried to put the Internet's size in physical terms. The researchers estimated that it would take 2 percent of the Amazon rainforest to make the paper to print out the entire Web (including the Dark Web), they reported in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics. For that study, they made some big assumptions about the amount of text online by estimating that an average Web page would require 30 pages of A4 paper (8.27 by 11.69 inches). With this assumption, the text on the Internet would require 1.36 x 10^11 pages to print a hard copy. (A Washington Post reporter later aimed for a better estimate and determined that the average length of a Web page was closer to 6.5 printed pages, yielding an estimate of 305.5 billion pages to print the whole Internet.)

Of course, printing out the Internet in text form wouldn't include the massive amount of nontext data hosted online. According to Cisco's research, 8,000 petabytes per month of IP traffic was dedicated to video in 2015, compared with about 3,000 petabytes per month for Web, email and data transfer. (A petabyte is a million gigabytes or 2^50 bytes.) All told, the company estimated that video accounted for most Internet traffic that year, at 34,000 petabytes. File sharing came in second, at 14,000 petabytes.”

On a more personal note: We blame Wordswoth! Coleridge we're okay with, but, man, that Wordsworth! By making it impossible for any writer to be anything less than a genius (by introducing the concept of genius, Wordsworth fought for the survival of literature on the market – literature as a high value commodity), he secured for literature roughly one hundred years of prestige, only to make it plummet from its Olympic heights straight into the gutter of neglect. Just think about it: if it were not for Wordsworth, today's literary classics would have been written by an equivalent of boy band (or Destiny's Child Harold) and _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (insert your country's name) Got Literary Talent! would be your guilty TV pleasure. So when you feel alone in your readerly and/or writerly efforts, think of old Bill and either thank him or curse him – we're sure he'll be glad you remembered him regardless.

Invisible Seattle is only one of the amazing titles you can find at ZVONA i NARI Library.

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ZiN Daily is published by ZVONA i NARI, Cultural Production Cooperative

Vrčevan 32, 52204 Ližnjan, Istria, Croatia

OIB 73342230946

ISSN 2459-9379


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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