I was writing here the other day about the small press -- which spurred other thoughts.
The Internet offers a picture similar to the commercial press vs. small press model -- with differences, it seems to me. I have no idea how many ambitious, "professional" attempts at electronic, web-based publishing have come and gone. What seems to be the case is that they have come and gone. Whether any have lingered in memory I have no idea. I tend to think content must suit the medium; and the medium of the Internet seems akin to the mimeograph and offset-press productions of earlier decades, the small-press and micro-press and personal-press efforts that resulted in tiny-circulation magazines and fanzines and personalzines that had impact upon their readers all out of proportion to their importance in the "larger" economic sphere. The Internet enables the souls who feel drawn to the kind of expression the small press allows. Commercial literary endeavors on the Internet seem to fail out of the necessity of thinking in large terms -- in trying to be of significance, economically. They need "numbers."
The model of the small press, I sometimes think, is the letter. One person writes the letter; the other reads it, and is changed by it. The letter's ability to change the reader -- even if it is no more than the change of learning one is in another' person's thoughts, in the all-purpose wish-you-were-here postcard -- measures its success. The letter may have one reader, or may appear in a newspaper and be read by thousands: but the overriding goal in either case is not to win a living wage, but to be read.