With blogs, twitter, social networking sites, is everyone a writer or better yet, an author now? No, but according to Pelli & Bigelow in A Writing Revolution , everyone will be an author in 2013. Yes, in just four short years everyone will be an author. Get ready to read! A lot!

The idea behind A Writing Revolution is an analysis of the number of published authors per year since 1400. From this Pelli & Bigelow give us “the first published graph of the history of authorship” (very cool graph, check it out). They found that authorship has increased tenfold each century since 1400, with 1 million book authors per year in 2000. Since then, apparently, authorship has increased tenfold a year–not a century. At this rate we will have reached “universal” authorship by 2013. Wow!

Authorship seems defined as people who write “books and new media”–including twitter posts, blogs, and Facebook updates–that have 100 or more readers. However, if we are going to accept Tweets, what about other forms of authorship–newspaper articles, those brochures that flooded early printing presses, billboards, flyers, and so on? Pelli & Bigelow do not seem to count these things, but it is hard to tell from the article.

Pelli & Bigelow discuss other interesting points such as:

  • Trades in “privacy for influence” with the increasing author rates (especially for things like Tweets and so on)
  • Increases in social conscience with the increasing public discussion
  • Changes in concerns: while we were once concerned with those who can’t read, we may soon be concerned with those that can’t publish

Of course, we still can’t forget about those who can’t read–they will be doubly disadvantaged in this new world of “complete” authorship. In fact when we consider those who can’t read and those who can’t author, the divide between the “haves” (the authors) and “have nots” (those who can’t read or author), will be even greater and there will be more on the “have not” side.

Pelli & Bigelow discuss how the huge increases in authorship will change society and show ways they already have (read the article to find out more). In this area they present some thought provoking lines:

Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential.

As readers, we consume. As authors, we create. Our society is changing from consumers to creators.

Interesting and thought provoking article. This is especially an area of consideration for those of us who teach writing. How can we teach universal authorship? Should our teaching methods change? How? Will our students even consider themselves authors (rarely do they seem to consider themselves writers, despite their blogs and tweets)?

What do you think? Are you an Author? Will we reach universal authorship? Will it change the world?

Something to say?