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Identity Crisis! (Publishing in the Digital Age)

Who am I?

Hmmm…

This is a question that has plagued me for years. I have literally traveled the world in search of answers. I mean, I’m pretty sure I exist (at least according to Descartes basic standards). In social settings it seems like my existence is defined by whether or not I work. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was 30sec deep in conversation, with someone I just met, without being asked, “So, uh…what do you do?”

What do I do? You mean right now? On the weekends? In the bathroom? I guess I do a lot of things.

Most days I breathe and I blink quite a bit. This is hardly ever the dirt people are looking for. Obviously they want to know about my professional life; but why is this knowledge so important?
In the ultra-competitive Western world, I think knowing what someone “does” for a living helps us to understand some aspect of their role in the society around them. Philosophically, I wish we could ask each other more poignant and meaningful questions – but I understand why we ask each other, “What do you do?”
What’s funny to me, however, is that while we are willing to associate a critical portion of our PERSONAL identity to what we “do”, we often work for (or run) companies that have difficulty answering this very same question.
What is our company’s role in its industry? Are we important or even relevant? Writers, editors, and especially book publishers should be asking themselves this question.

I went as far as asking myself this question in public, in front of a group of seasoned writers. . . yikes!

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