There have been many apocalyptic articles bemoaning the death of sociality/literature/civilisation as we know it due to the advent of the internet, and particularly social networking. But what becomes clear when you spend any time on social networking sites (and I spend way too much time on Facebook) is that many of the groups are dedicated to promoting live events, and can reach an unprecedented audience of potential attendees. Just as Kutub's blog allows you to read along with a bookclub in Dubai, the Facebook groups for Jordan Poetry and Cairo's Diwan Bookstore give a picture of a thriving literary culture that's as much face-to-face as Facebook.
Authors are increasingly savvy about using the internet to reach new readers -- and to shape their reputation. Celebrated Egyptian blogger and writer Marwa Rakha used Facebook to encourage her readers to review her book on Amazon. It sounds like a virtual whirl, but net users are conscious of real-life consequences, whether positive (increased book sales or event attendance, improved transcultural communication) or negative. That one writer, Adnan Okter, could get an injunction to block the website of Turkey's third-largest newspaper demonstrates -- uncomfortably -- the real-life power of the virtual world.
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