I have some fairly obscure interests. Not totally obscure, like “I’m interested in relics of the Ming Dynasty, specifically jewel-handled daggers first used in fights during the first quarter of the 1400s” but things that are sub-interests of sub-interests. Things which maybe a few hundred or a couple of thousand other people on the internet also like.
For example: I like comics. And I’m interested in hearing people talk about the creative process. And I love the work of cartoonist David Mazzucchelli. So if I find an mp3 of an interview where David Mazzuchelli talks about the creative process, what is the simple process I can follow to share the link with the perhaps several hundred other people interested in hearing it?
There should be a site for sharing resources on things like this. There should be a permanent page for each subject. It should cover any subject you care to name. It should be spam-filtered, up- and down-votable, searchable, subscribable via RSS. I should be able to open Google Reader in the morning and see, under the category “Comics - creative process” or “David Mazzuchelli” that someone has shared a link I’d be interested in.
Now you can say that — for example — Mazzuchelli could start a personal website where he can share these sorts of things. But that’s beside the point! Firstly, what if we were instead talking about, say, Harvey Kurtzman, who has been dead for decades. Secondly, even if the person is alive and has a good website, like Greg Rucka (to pick an example), I can’t necessarily look at it and see what comics he has in stores this week or which podcast featuring him has just become available. For one thing, he may not actually know, but at any rate this is the sort of trivia fans are best able to keep track of, and someone like that is too busy to spend much time being a fan of himself.
It is of course possible for people to start fan sites and forums on any given topic, but you know what? Not good enough. When the internet lacks an encyclopaedia entry on some subject, do we demand that an aficionado solely write, host, incorporate corrections and addenda to and publicise the entry herself? No. That’s what Wikipedia is for. And the net needs this just as much as it needed Wikipedia. Every time I contemplate a web that lacks it I feel like a visitor from the pre-Wiki era who has to look up references using a shelf full of Microsoft Encarta CDs.