I have an idea….

Wiki’s have become awefully big, and they’re great at semantically linking information together. However, they’re most suited towards documentation and fact gathering. I’ve seen one site - The Fiction Wikia - that tries to apply the wiki concept to story telling, but I think it has several shortcomings. The most notable is that it forces each and every author on the site to use the same license, the Gnu Free Documentation License, which is great for information sharing, but is in my opinion not well suited to the fiction writer. In my opinion, the Creative Commons licenses are much more appropriate, and provide the freedom and flexibility needed for sharing fictional work.

Enter “wikshun”. Wikshun is not a single site, but it is an approach to writing. The idea is to create a mesh of wiki-like sites, each under the control of a single author. On each site, the author would publish their own fiction, and optionally host that of other authors in their own namespaces.

The author(s) would then enhance their fiction by providing semantially linked detail for each story. For instance, on the first appearance of a character’s name, it would be a link to a character bio, either in a generalized “characters” namespace, or under the exiting store (Story/CharacterName). The same type of linking could be applied to settings, dates, special objects or items (i.e. Tolkien’s “Ring of Barahir”).

What does all this get you? Well, with each new page standing as an individually copyrightable piece of work, each author can choose to apply different licenses to different pieces. For instance, I may not want anyone deriving directly from my short stories, but I’m more than happy to not only let people derive from, but directly copy and use my characters as described in their character sheets.

I might also be more than happy to let authors place their stories in some wonderful setting I’ve invented. With each new tale that takes place there, the setting itself can become expanded and enhanced. With using wiki technology, these stories can be interlinked relatively easily, allowing for writers to concentrate on doing what they really want to do - write.

Why would anyone want to do this? Well, for one, it’s a good way for new authors to expose their work to the world, under their own licensing terms. Licenses could range from the GFDL all the way to the typical restrictive copyright, and an author can have finer control of what he would like to allow other writers to use.

Time conducting desperatio
     running sorrow of knowing

illusory meaning
     traversing orchestral mirrors

touch destiny
     contained within
     a self made mirror of defiance

behold a lending of meaning

Sublime ripples shadow purgatory wanting.
     This time mirrors my silence.

Wanting and consumed,
     Sanguine waters rushing,
     My spirit wades to be freed.

A frozen end.

The world surrounds us with distractions. Television is a particularly sinister form, and I’m only lately coming to realize its actual power over people. Try sitting in a room with a television on and doing something else - something like read a book or (as I’ve often tried) writing.

It doesn’t work. We are drawn to it - it stimulates us more than most other readily accesible forms of entertainment. What happens to a person when he slowly comes to realize how much he truly has been distracted by television? An awaking, a stripping away of a life he thought he had, a dawning of the futility of his own existence. Imagine living a life, and only towards the end discovering that all the memories, all the hopes and dreams, were all borrowed paraphenalia, all loaned to you from the entertainment industry. And imagine realizing that the only true person to blame is yourself - you permitted yourself to spend a life in a semi-hypnotic trace, and it’s much too late to reverse the effects.

Distraction… it is a cornerstone of our society, a foundation of an entire industry.

I watched The Shawshank Redemption tonight. Not the first time I’ve seen it - and I had read the short story before the movie came out. Both are fine works. In the movie, Morgan Freeman’s character, ‘Red’, gives this little speech about how one of the other characters has been in so long, he’s become institutionalized. In essence, it’s what happens to a person who has been in prison so long, they stop knowing how to be valuable outside of the prison setting.

The speech is about what happens to a man in prison - I’m coming to beleive that it may be equally applicable to the typical worker-bee in corporate america. A person works so long for a company, doing pretty much the same thing for 50 years. Retirement is like a parole from a life sentence. What do you do at that point, what do you know? In the words of Red:

Man’s been here fifty years. This place is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man, an educated man. A librarian. Out there, he’s nothing but a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands. Couldn’t even get a library card if he applied. You see what I’m saying?

These walls are funny. First you hate ‘em, then you get used to ‘em. After long enough, you get so you depend on ‘em. That’s “institutionalized.”

Try spending 50 years doing the same thing - that’s “institutionalized”. Your value, your very definition, is no longer controlled internally. Rather, your self-worth becomes tied to an external yard-stick. You are defined by the institution in which you have become embeded.

ouch…