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Friday, November 16, 2007

Writing for Facebook

A friend emailed me this information:

Facebook gets literary
Arts Hub, Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Only on the web can you start a new literary review and have over 2,000 people sign up within a month. In fact, the early popularity of The Facebook Review rebukes any charge that web-denizens don't care much for textuality beyond the hyper.

The review, a first for Facebook, already has over 2,000 subscribers, and is growing daily.

The global experiment in literature and social networking was launched this month, and the first virtual edition features 14 writers from across the globe, including emerging and established writers from Canada, the U.S. and the UK.

What makes this online literary magazine unique is its interactivity and the fact it only exists within Facebook, the huglely popular social networking website (boasting more than 49 million users worldwide).

By using Facebook as a publishing tool and accepting contributions from Facebook members, review founder, poet Jacob McArthur Mooney, hopes to harness the reach and momentum of social networking to provide a new platform for writers - with in-built instant feedback, as other members to comment on and share the work.

Mooney, a 24-year-old Canadian, says: "Facebook is such an immense environment I assumed that something like The Facebook Review had to already exist somewhere. As it turns out, Facebook is vast but also surprisingly empty. I wanted to challenge the idea that Facebook can only reflect the culture happening beyond it."

Issues will be edited by the contributors to the previous issue, producing an inclusive rolling editorial team.

"I think that the casual atmosphere on Facebook can get people talking to each other in ways they'd never do in 'the real world'," says Mooney. "Facebook is a meeting ground for writers at all levels; from kids posting their first poems for friends to read to established authors using it as a marketing vehicle."

UK author Mark Brown, featured in the first issue, agrees: "The Facebook Review is a fun idea that points the way toward new ways of publishing and reading literature. I'm really excited to be a part of it."

Anyone who is a member of Facebook can join The Facebook Review by visiting or by searching for The Facebook Review group. All details and submission guidelines can be found at The Facebook Review page inside Facebook

Well, I can't stand Facebook after trying it for a few months. Or was it weeks that only seemed like months? I really did try. I joined in sending people virtual drinks and gifts and hugs, I wrote things on their walls, I answered their questions. I did draw the line at exchanging vampire bites or sending a beach ball around the world. And I was amused when, in a fit of silliness late one night, I offered to marry half my Facebook friends and scared the s**t outa some of them! (I thought I had omitted all who might take me seriously but apparently not.)

I thought it was the most boring and time-wasting thing I'd ever come across! As far as I'm concerned, the kids can have it. I'll just find other ways to support the Burmese dissidents and record my personal history as raw material for memoir – the two reasons I stayed as long as I did.

The literary review tempted me only briefly. After all, though feedback on one's work can be useful – from 2,000 people??? It seems a mite excessive. Have I got time to sort through the uninformed, tasteless and half-baked opinions that would inevitably be included, to find the gems? If I wanted my poetry to appeal to the masses, I'd be writing greeting cards. (No, I would LOVE it to appeal to the masses – but not at the expense of poetics, you see.)

Glad to find out my instincts are sound. My friend The Cerebral Mum has looked into the matter more than I did, and points out the following:

I had a look at that Review Thingy. I know it has lots of members, but I wonder how many actually read it? And The material is only covered by Facebook Terms which says that you “grant to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise.” I’m all for open source, and Creative Commons, but I’m pretty sure that particular agreement is not one your agent would recommend signing when it comes to your artistic work. It’s one of the things that makes me distrust them so much.

Yes, that's a pretty horrifying agreement to make about one's writing!

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