The Real Meaning of “Author”

Should and Must

“If you want the whole thing, the gods will give it to you. But you must be ready for it.”

[Joseph Campbell]

This weekend's project was cleaning up the email account associated with this blog. To quantify the scope from a starting point of 17,682, the account is now at 4,092. The qualitative process included criteria for what to keep and what to let go.

In the process, I had the opportunity to review thousands of conversations and comment threads from the past ten years. That is a lot of emotional data through stories.

A few high level themes emerged:

  • giving and receiving feedback we are still wrestling with this, but in the earlier days of blogging the desire to connect was stronger than that to correct
  • handling personal and public identities — there were clearly two distinct modes early on, but a couple of years in they started blending
  • building authority and community — were part of the same ethos, we got one by contributing to the other; this also has changed quite a bit
  • going from online to offline — due to the sense of community it seemed much more important to meet in real life or face to face in the early days than it does today
  • playing with boundaries — much of the discussion focused on experimenting with concepts and tools in the spirit of curiosity; the rules makers then started going on about playing within” them

It was breaking new ground as individuals and figuring out the social aspects as we went along for the ride. Many of us became authors for the very first time in the literal sense of the word: 

Middle English auctour, from Old French autor, from Latin auctor, creator, from auctus, past participle of augēre, to create. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

From Anglo-Norman autour, from Old French autor, from Latin auctor, from augeō ("to increase, originate"). The h is unetymological as there is no h in the original Latin spelling. This may be from the Middle French spelling autheur. (Wiktionary)

For me it was about the desire to learn, make sense of our work. In a way, this site has come full circle from broader topics in the beginning to specialized verticals in the middle years to a fuller view recently.


[image via Elle Luna's Do lecture]