[early draft]

Benefits of Recombinant Text for Artists

Engage in Critical Dialogue  Know Where You Stand Among Your Peers
Gain Readers for Your Work  Retain Credit for What Gets Copied
Avoid Writer's Block  Practice Your Specialty
Contribute to a New Form of Literature, a New Form of Art

This is a summary of the benefits and promise of recombinant text for literary composition, from an artist's point of view.1 Recombinant text is a collaborative medium based on a mechanism of evolutionary genetics:

Engage in Critical Dialogue

The medium of recombinant text can 'host' a critical dialogue among peers. with similar benefits to a formal, creative workshop. The underlying method is different, however:

[Complex dialogue, actually polyphonic, and mutually constructive, like a slow motion Jazz improv.] [Along same lines, but closer in theory and application, may be the oral tradition of compositional performance]

Know Where You Stand Among Your Peers

Objective measures of peer performance are available,2 to answer questions such as:

Gain Readers for Your Work

Gain a readership of peers, genuinely interested in your work. In parallel with you, they will be engaged in composing the same text (their own variant of it). They will know as much as you do about that text, and will be equally committed to its possibilities. Also, they will have a professional interest in closely reading your own work on it; because if they see something they like, something that would improve their own work, they will be quick to copy it.

Retain Credit for What Gets Copied

When other writers copy parts of your work, you will get formal credit for those parts. If the copier's work is commercially published, your authorship credit will translate to a fair share of the royalties.

Even if they copy your creative ideas (new character, plot changes, etc.), you will still get credit.3

Avoid Writer's Block

Stuck? Staring at passage of text, unsure what to do with it? Shift your focus through and beyond the text, and outward into the population. There you will see an array of variations; alternatives of the same passage drafted by other writers. If one appears to be an improvement, simply copy it, paste it as a replacement, and then move on...

Still stuck? Turn the whole text loose, and see how it evolves out there in the wild. Nobody can modify your copy of it (it is not like a Wiki) but you will still get the benefit of seeing how it evolves, in various directions.

Staring at a blank page? Set it aside for a while, and turn your attention to the texts of other writers. Pick one of them up, and put your voice into it. Make it your own text, and take it as far as you can.

Practice Your Specialty

Are you a consumate craftsman or a wordsmith? Practice your craft. Refine what others have written, and know that you will get credit for it.

Are you a master storyteller? Tell your story. Do not worry about the detailed wording. Just keep the audience spellbound. Soon you will see the effect of your art, as the hidden details emerge one by one. The audience is participating.

Are you an editor? Frame the overall work, and guide the pieces into place. Cultivate your sources. You will be their usher to a wider readership, and to commercial outlets.

Are you a translator? Translate a work-in-progress that you admire. You will be a bridge between two creative communities, seeing all that happens on either side, and being an important source to both.

Contribute to a New Form of Literature, a New Form of Art

A new medium enables a new art. It affects content, expression, and the creative thought of the artist. And recombinant text will definitely be a new and unique medium (though with an ancient pedigree). Anything might happen...

Imagine, for example, the collaborative composition of a new epic — a modern day Iliad, or Mahabharata — that would attempt to explain not just who we are, and where we came from, but where we are going. And suppose it were expressed in a medium that preserved it, not as a fossil, but as a living text that evolved. Would that not be a new art? Might it not have real consequences that extend beyond art?



Ostensibly from the artist's point of view, since the author is not an artist.


Objective measures of peer performance will be derived from genetic traces of the wild population. See the mention of this in Peer Publication.


Genetic transfer of creative ideas (new character, plot changes, etc.) has yet to be developed, beyond a sketch. See the overview of the complex wide approach.


Copyright 2007, Michael Allan. Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Textbender Software"), to deal in the Textbender Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicence, and/or sell copies of the Textbender Software, and to permit persons to whom the Textbender Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions: The preceding copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Textbender Software. THE TEXTBENDER SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE TEXTBENDER SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE TEXTBENDER SOFTWARE.