The price of freedom of information
Written by Will Conway on Wednesday the 28th of September 2011
The internet and social networks like twitter have changed
the way people access information as well as the way that creative people
relate to their audiences. Everyone knows that, so I do not need to spend any
time convincing you.
If you like a particular comedian you expect access to free
clips or jokes; if you like a particular writer, access to free articles; if
you like a particular musician, links to free music. Indeed, free music and
journalism, in their abundance now seem to many to be a god-given right.
I have heard a few people share their thoughts on how the
internet has meant artists having to give their work away for free, whether
willingly or wittingly. For some this is preventing them from being able to
live off their creations, which doesn't sound fair.
I have mixed feelings about this. Being an 'artist,' a
'writer,' a 'poet' or whatever the heck I'm supposed to be, my interest is in
creating, and I appreciate if anyone is interested in anything I have to say at
I tweet, you know make twitters, although I have had more
people unfollow me that follow me but I don't care. I make up little rhymes,
observations or plays on words about how I feel or what's going on and try to
support other people being interesting / amusing / important and whatnot. I
post links to the events I might speak at, the magazines I write for or that my
book of short stories is on sale.
I have never made any profit from any of this. The few book
sales, to which I am grateful nonetheless, go back into printing and do not pay
my bills. I wonder whether more than a handful of people who haven't met me
have actually read my book. I don't seem to be able to hold more than 100
followers on twitter (despite being pretty darn good at it). And you know what?
This doesn't actually bother me all that much.
I am useless at self-promotion and I have a full-time job in
order to make rent so I barely get a moment to write, let alone tell people
about the wonderful things that I'm doing. Of course it's easy to get down
about it from time to time, asking myself what the point is in getting out
these ideas that feel so important to me if nobody will ever find out about
them. But I would rather one day that someone flicked through my poetry or
stories for free and enjoyed them than paid me in order to keep their own
Information should be free. If you are expressing yourself
freely AND getting paid for it, then credit to you but they should come in that
order. If your creative output is considered information; a concept, a vision,
a political opinion, an inspiration, a view on something human, then maybe, in
this day and age, the focus should not be in getting something back from it but
should be on just getting it out there.