Crime writer, Mark Sanderson, in conversation with Writing Magazine (Jan 2010) said - 'The Internet has made self publishing a cinch but genuine talent deserves a genuine publisher. Why post your work on the web - and lose it in the massive cyber slush pile- instead of sending it to an established literary agent? Any agent worth their 15% will soon tell you if you are any good."
Whilst I see his point I don't think Internet publishing negates the work. Many of us, myself included, have published work online. So have many bestselling writers - Stephen King for one did an Internet only story. There are some quality online anthologies - A Twist of Noir and Beat to a Pulp are just two of the many that I read on a regular basis.
What I think Mr Sanderson is missing with his, partly valid point is that there are not that many markets for short stories, nor for experimental pieces for which the Internet is a natural home. And of course the potential online readership is bigger than any print project could hope to reach. It is also worth noting that online publishing has unshackled creativity - no longer do you have to go to big corporations only to have your idea hit back. Now you can put your work out there and let it sink or swim on its own merits.
And of course for the written word the future may indeed be online.