Just when you thought your internet pals were only capable of communicating through “hilarious” YouTube links – watch out, there’s a whole new set of self-publishing possibilities now on the web, and it’s called Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/). Here you’re encouraged to “Publish Yourself Online,” “Publish to a Wide Audience!” (“Over 10 million people a month view documents on Scribd” the site claims) and the site accepts “all major formats” and genres include sheet music, slide shows, culture, poetry, and (my personal favorite) fan fiction.
By uploading documents using Scribd’s iPaper program, it allows you to embed your documents anywhere on the internet. However, given Scribd’s focus on an online community of self-publishers, this may be an extraneous feature. Members can form groups (Manga and Extreme Physics were two that stuck out), browse members in a manner reminiscent of Myspace.com, and review the “Most Viewed” and “Most Liked” categories of uploaded materials.
So is this new database of self-published work a good witch or a bad witch? Democratization of information or blatant copyright infringement (whole scripts for movies like “Knocked Up” and “Pulp Fiction” appear in the literature section)? Dissemination of culture or amateur self-aggrandizement? Posts in the poetry section range from the serious (Top Poetry Books of the Year reviewed by Lyn Hejinian) to the questionably serious (“This song is for my long lost love.It describes my feelings about him,and sadness because I lost him. This poem is so strong..written with my pain..and grief.. ” is one description for a poem). I don’t mean to sound stuck up or elitist, I think the whole possibility of self-publishing may encourage some budding writers to pursue their craft. However, it also has the potential to be just silly (“If a fourteen year old boy crashes his bike into a bush and it doesn’t get put on Youtube, did it really happen?”). Maybe Scribd is on its way to revolutionizing the publishing industry – for better or for worse.