Open Source Literature

As with all technological revolutions, the Internet has changed the way we create and consume information in many ways. It has also given rise to a plethora of new tools and workflows available to writers, publishers and readers. These many creative instruments can be combined in the most inventive of ways.

Open Source Literature is about championing a new way of growing literature. It embraces the wild nature of human imagination, releasing thought from all constraints. It also challenges the participant to make a leap of faith when it comes to financial sustenance.

OSL defies the delicate nature of literary work and its rather strict connection with a certain author. It allows taking any and all risks, so that there is nothing that holds back anybody who would like to capitalize upon another author’s work.

The Repository

Experimentation is one of the best ways to learn. In order to analyze the potential of OSL, I have decided to craft a series of literary works using Open Source best practices. My OSL implementation uses a public repository powered by a version control system. With ease and flexibility in mind, I already outlined the first proposal of a framework through which contributors can reuse and modify literary projects. The first draft of what an OSL license might look like is also available^.

My OSL experimental repository is located at the following address:

https://github.com/MAxonn/stories-from-the-continuum^

It uses the GIT version control system. Information about the repository should automatically be displayed underneath the file list. If it isn’t, the readme.md file can be read by clicking here^. The file contains additional information regarding the purpose of Open Source Literature. The technical information about the project can also be found there.

Potential

I believe in the potential of Open Source Anything. This is rooted in my observation that in the case of human collaboration, 1+1 often yields more than 2. Good team work produces fantastic results. Furthermore, voluntary association has additional chances of becoming good team work compared to other forms of collaboration.

Opening a work to change can lead to unexpected results. Fortunately, natural selection also takes place in the case of art. That which is worthy has more chances to withstand the test of time. There are countless examples of artists remixing each other’s work and bringing fascinating creations into the world. I believe that everybody is an artist. It’s only a matter of practicing the skill.

I’ve presented several of the advantages of Open Source Literature in the readme.md^ file of the repository I linked above. One thing I’d like to stress is my observation of how awesome branching can be for storytelling. For example, it has allowed me to create two^ alternate^ versions for a story I wrote. Aside from one paragraph, the story is the same. Any changes I make in the master version of the story can easily be merged into any other version (except that one paragraph, of course, which needs to be changed individually in each branch in order to avoid conflicts). This ensures that the two alternate versions can benefit from common corrections and modifications.

Stories from the Continuum

This is the name of my first book, a collection of short stories that serves as the opener for a larger work bearing the same name. All of the novels, short stories and other types of literature available in the OSL repository I linked above take place in the same Universe, which is why the name of the repository is “Stories from the Continuum”. In this separate article^, I’ve described what this literary work means by “the Continuum”.

Writing these “Stories” comes with no restriction on genre or style. This may seem like an invitation to chaos, but thanks to the many instruments of creation available today, chaos can be translated into enthralling diversity. The project is well suited for serving as an Open Source experiment because it consists of a diverse and expansive Universe. As it will soon be apparent, there will be plenty of room for contribution.

Because of the paradigms and software tools used throughout this implementation of OSL, “Stories from the Continuum” is a perpetually changing creature of thought. There won’t be any “final version” for any text. Instead, this project embraces the software definition of a “release”. There will be releases for example when a work is published, but any “Story” can undergo radical changes throughout its limitless lifespan.

Long Term Vision

With a bit of luck and opportunity, other adventurers will join this quest for discovering new ways to grow literature. From my part, I have already laid out plans for at least six novels and two collections of short stories. The only but sadly very real limitation is that of resources, to be precise, time, to be precise, money. At the moment, I cannot sustain my family with my writing. Until that will change, I am maintaining a full time job and my writing is scattered through whatever time I can scavenge during the week. But if anything, I am patient and persistent. I’m also not afraid to ask for your help^.

Besides the actual writing of the “Stories”, quite a bit of time has and will be invested in the technical aspects of implementing OSL. My focus is on writing, but there will be gradual and constant improvements brought to the OSL framework (software, license, workflow).

Experimenting with writing and (coding) software has become a dream come true. I always sought to contribute something beautiful back to the society that has helped me become who I am. It is my hope that this can be one such thing.

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