Word has it that Amazon has taken yet another step in the value chain that is writing. They have the distribution part down pat, and the production part? Well, they have that, too. So where does a restless creative force go next? Pretty obvious: The making of the product, which is to say, the writing.
In the near future, if you’re a hyper-qualified Prime member and you’re knocking around Amazon looking for something to read, you will be able to tell Amazon the genre and the plot elements you’d like and their algorithms will whip up a story for you and drill it right into your Kindle. And you wondered where art comes from.
Now, maybe I’m biased, but that strategy will (of course) work well for Amazon in the short run, but I bet the result will be a Budweiser.
There is a little town in Bohemia called Budvar. Folks have been making beer in Budvar since before recorded history, and it is good beer. When you’re next in Vienna or Prague, ask for a Budweiser. You will get a beer from that little town in Bohemia, and it will have only a vague resemblance to the Budweiser you can get in the States. The beer from Budvar is the modern version of the beer Budvar has always made, and its flavor is a function of a master brewer’s palate.
When the Budweiser from Budvar arrived in the States, it was probably pretty similar to the delicious stuff that now comes from Budvar. But in the years since, it has been run through consumer testing, the cost accounting department, the advertising department, and so on. The result is essential beer. Beer stripped of any taste that might offend. It is light. It is bubbly. It is aggressively anodyne, if that is not an oxymoron. It is high-priced water. As a result, not surprisingly, a whole new industry has sprung up – Craft Beer, aka beer that tastes like beer.
So, I’m wondering how long it will take for automata to reduce writing to its essential drivel and for Craft Writing – aka Not Drivel – to triumph once again.