Monday, September 15, 2008
Bob Stein’s ‘unified field theory of publishing in the networked era’
Interesting post at if:book. Some discussion of the possibilities (you - being a new media-savvy blog reader - could probably fill in many of details yourself off the cuff). Then this thought:
Hmmm. On the surface that sounds a lot like a Wikipedia article, in the sense that it’s always in process and consideration of the the back and forth is crucial to making sense of the whole. However it’s also different, because a defining aspect of the Wikipedia is that once an article is started, there is no special, ongoing role accorded to the the person who initiated it or tends it over time. And that’s definitely not what I’m talking about here. Locating discourse in a dynamic network doesn’t erase the distinction between authors and readers, but it significantly flattens the traditional perceived hierarchy.
More like a blog, then. The author posts. Others comment. Yes, but blogs are more of the ‘new thing every day’ model.
All this stuff interests me enormously because I have such a strong sense that academic publishing is so much worse than it could be. Structurally. But it’s very hard to change. I’ve talk about all that before. I’ve been unable to spend as much time thinking and doing stuff about all this as I would like, lo this past year. (Hell, I hardly have time for blogging these days.) But I’ll just mention one thing. Academics are perfectly accustomed to the flattening of traditional hierarchy of which Bob speaks: it’s called a ‘conference’. It’s funny that academics could be creatures who regard books and articles as things that make sense, and conferences as events that are valuable enough that people should fly to them from all points around the globe. Still: it would be mad - mad! I tell you! - to thoroughly standardize the production of hybrid products (sort of like a book, sort of like a conference.)
Obviously we here at the Valve wisely stage these books events. Good on us. We should find time to do more of that.
If what’s being monetized in your vision is the discussion surrounding the text, how does this affect the publishers relationship to other discussions around the text?