Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Session 5: Scholarly Publishing: A History, Publishers & ALPSP


Scholarly publishing is different to trade or commercial publishing. It produces a vast amount of resources for research and advanced study, which depends on the many different fields, including Sciences and the Humanities. Scholarly publishing refers to journal and research monographs, which is a detailed written study of a single specialised subject. You will find that in the Sciences there is a preferred choice for journal articles whereas in the Arts and Humanities they place emphasis on monographs. Journals offer faster dissemination whereas with monographs you have to wait a couple of years. Within academic journal publishing you will find that peer reviews are featured heavily, where other academics pre accept what is going to be published in a journal or book, if it is accepted then it is published. You do not find this in trade publishing. 



One of the first scientific scholarly journals ever published in English is the one pictured above, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, in 1665. It contained text, images and graphs. It also included a fold out page, demonstrating the multimedia of the time. This journal, which is still in print, is an output of a learned society, an organisation that promotes an academic discipline.  

Following this was the Scientific American, first published in 1845, presented more like a newspaper and covering current scientific affair, and the long standing Nature journal in 1869, pictured below. 


The Uniform Penny Post, founded in England in 1840 was the equivalent to the modern day Royal Mail, which made it possible for publishers to post journals across geographical regions, where the first instance of the concept of subscription was established. Since then the principle of the academic journal exploded, expanding across many fields, where it appeared to be that there was a journal covering almost every subject area or academic field. This peaked in the late 70's and early 80's. Then with the introduction of the World Wide Web, it allowed academic journals to be disseminated and accessed in a whole new way changing the role of the academic publisher and the role of the academic library. 

Scholarly Publishers  

There are big commercial publishers out there, Elsevier and Wiley, some of which have been around for a long time. They have gone through the process of becoming professionalised with a infrastructure in place for content to be distributed. There are approximately 25,000 academic journals produced every year, although this may not be accurate, and actually maybe more than this. Other academic publishers are Sage and Emerald, which are associated with Higher Education institutions but exist separately. Commercial publishers do publish for learned societies, where membership fees are charged for joining. These learned societies have 2 main activities; journals and conferences. Publishing houses can publish journals for these societies. They will sell access to these journals to libraries, which include subscription, print copies and with e-publishing now also online access to journals. This saw the birth of the paywall, where you will find access is restricted to certain users who have to pay to subscribe. This is a specific business model for scholarly publishing, or journals sold to institutions, where fees are paid and journals can be accessed as money gets allocated for subscription. Journals are not hosted locally, they are hosted on the publishers server so institutions do not have to worry about having space to house journals. 

Larger institutions such as Harvard University have the budget to buy more journals than smaller institutions. But from this PR piece they released: Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing, it shows that they are unable to continue to pay the 3.5 US dollars they spend a year on journal subscriptions. Showing the complexity and the huge commercial side of scholarly publishing, where the main reasons for libraries cancelling journals is the cost and low usage.
Elsevier: Publishers; Origins, Roles and Contributions:


In his paper Rolnik talks of acquiring and purchasing existing titles, of acquiring straight purchases or exchanging titles. Titles can be gained under contract, leasing for a number of years, where the   publisher provides the service. An institute will normally buy a package and don't normally know the cost of each individual journal. Rolnik also mentions tools and services that publishers use, which include online peer review software, for online submission, multimedia features such as video streaming and the use of blogs and forums amongst others. Reporting is another important aspect as it allows publishers and authors to be aware of the statistics involved with their article. Rolnik also touches upon creating and launching new journal articles. In his paper The Basics of Academic Publishing, Rolnik states "creating new titles is not a priority for the large commercial publishers". He sees the big four commercial publishers as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, and that revenue is actually based on subscriptions, so these are of great importance even more so than advertising. Some have taken to voicing their view on these commercial publishers, for example: Written to be Read by Ingrid Van Der Mooren, who talks of boycotting Elsevier because they are a huge money making machine.


The Cost of Knowledge is a website set up as a petition, where researchers can sign a complaint, voicing their concern of Elsevier's business model, which includes:
  • Charging high prices for their subscriptions.
  • Selling big bundles, which include a number of journals that institutions do not need, therefore are generating a bigger profit.
  • Supporting SOPA and PIPA (copyright and IP) restricting free exchange of information, paywalling, which limits dissemination of work.
Researchers are added to a list, which states if they plan to refrain from publishing, refereeing or editorial work. As it stands 14,927 researchers have added their name.

This was reported in The Guardian, an article titled: Life after Elsevier: making open access to scintific knowledge a reality, outlining this petition and looking at the future of academic publishing in terms of open access. 




The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers or ALPSP for short is a trade body or association for nonprofit publishers, they represent scholarly publishing, with 330 members  in 40 countries. They have been around for approximately 44 years and are one of the the founders of the Publishing Licencing Society, their main focus being not for profit.

The four main areas they help their members with:
  1. Connect, through networking, events and social media.
  2. Informed, with information and knowledge.
  3. Develop skills, through conferences, training and workshops.
  4. Representation, through committees and statements.
Organisations & Learned Societies 

ALPSP represent a huge number of organisations including ZSL, Cambridge University Press, Oxfam and World Health Organisation to name but a few. Also represented are the very many disciplines and learned societies that exist. The Scholarly Societies Project (2001) identified there to be approximately 5000 active learned societies based in Europe, and 2000 in the UK. From research conducted by ALPSP themselves, in the form of their Member Survey 2014 they identified Life Sciences as the largest represented discipline. The Membership Report 2014 produced a graph that showed the subscription band and how many members were in each band. The band showing the most members are actually smaller organisations, with one journal and maybe a few books as opposed to the larger organisations. This is because they need more support, being smaller.

Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is just one example of a learned society represented by ALPSP. They have a huge number of individual members from students to lab workers. They do various work to popularise chemistry. The following shows what they do:
  • Provide latest news and research for their members.
  • Networking, by having local meetings.
  • Professional development and recognition, for registered scientists and technicians.
  • Support services, such as helplines.
  • Funding, by putting money made from publishers back into the organisation.
  • Facilities at the Chemistry Centre.
The Future

The following video is taken from the ALPSP annual conference, from 2014, showing members talking about the successes and the future of scholarly publishing.

YouTube: ALPSP Conference 2014

Mentioned in this video, regarding the successes and the future is to embrace open access and collaboration. It is a challenge as to how researchers search and collaborate, how to access information from mobiles remotely. New ideas relate to open access and a solution to text and data mining requests.  Also mentioned is the Kudos initiative, which provides tools for the author to promote their work through social media which helps researchers. It is currently in its beta version, and has gone down well with publishers as it also allows for one service for every publisher.

The following shows other factors taken into account as to the future of ALPSP:
  1. Technological, sharing, mobile access and discovery.
  2. Social and cultural, social media and publishing trends.
  3. Political, government intervention, how to research funding and copyright legislation in the digital market.
  4. Economic, recession, market changes and national government funding.  
I highly recommend the ALPSP YouTube channel and to follow @alpsp.

A huge thanks also to Suzanne Kavanagh from ALPSP who gave a highly interesting talk for us #citylis students.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Session 4: History Of The Book Trade: Intellectual Property, Copyright & Creative Commons


History Of Book Trade

In order to look at intellectual property, piracy and copyright it makes sense to delve into the history of the book trade, to see where this all began and how changes in publishing saw the introduction and change in copyright issues.


A brief history of the book trade begins in its pre form as manuscripts, in around the year 476, the time of the Roman Empire, scribes were copying manuscripts in monasteries. The job of the scribes was to copy from the original. By the 12th century this began to emerge into the mainstream market fuelled by demand from universities aswell as monasteries. 

1300 was according to some authors as the start of the book. The 14th century saw the role of the four craftsmen who created the book, these were the parchminer, scrivener, lymner and bookbinder, So from someone who made the parchment and copying letters to the book being binded in its final form. This was then up to the stationer to sell these books. The Stationers Company of London was formed in 1557 to which all these craftsmen belonged and which regulated these craftsmen associated with the publishing industry. This company still survives today, and can be found at www.stationers.org

The 1450's saw the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press, invented by Johann Gutenberg, in which the first book to be printed was the Bible. With the birth of William Caxton in 1422, he was the first English printer, and was seen as a publisher and bookseller aswell as a printer, 

From the 16th century, there was a large number of small firms structured around a family business, which still survives today for example Macmillan publisher, who were founded in this way. There was a separation of bookselling from publishing, In the 18th century, the publishing supply chain structure was developed in its modern form. William Hogarth allowed for the beginnings of file sharing, and reproduction as he was an artist who sold versions of his own paintings by doing engravings of the original. The engravings were widely pirated. This led to the Engravers Copyright Act, 1735, protecting the reproduction rights of the engravers. The 19th century allowed for bigger number of copies being reproduced which coined the term "mechanization", which saw supply and demand grow where more books were bought which led to book prices going down. The 20th century saw technology being brought to the forefront, with typesetting and desktop publishing, which allowed for multimedia printing with a combination of text and images. Photocopying and colour printing was also formed.

The introduction of the World Wide Web transformed the publishing world, with online publishing which allowed for self publishing firstly in the form of blogs. This made way for the "Digital Age" in the 21st century with the rise of content, more self publishing and ease of sharing with social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This made it easier for copying, and blurred the lines of copyright as you are dealing with content that is not physical.

Adrian John. Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg To Gates (2009)

Richard Temple The Pirate King:


A review of this Adrian Johns book by Claire Pettitt discusses the "1680's and the first use of the term "pirate" to describe violators of the Stationers' Register held by the Restoration Guild of Stationers" and "through the late nineteenth-century raids on pirate printers of sheet music" particularly the "pirate king", pictured above who pirated sheet music for popular operas and musicals. The review talks of how Johns discusses the introduction of technology as a lead to a shift of what intellectual property and copyright means and what it covers. He says that the internet is "fundamentally and structurally opposed to copyright and anti-piracy legislation designed to protect intellectual property" and now different problems have arisen to works published in earlier years. Intellectual property needs to be constantly redefined as times change. He touches upon hypocrisy of intellectual property laws which are "flouted by businesses that might later defend and extend regulation when they want to protect the success of their own piracies". An example he gives is how Steve Jobs the founder of Apple hacked or "explored" computer networks in order to come up with the brand you see today. Apple now places huge emphasis on anti-piracy to protect their company. Technology is in fact the focus of the book. 

"Sabotage" & YouTube

An example of this technology in the context of piracy is given with "Sabotage", a song and video by the Beastie Boys, in 1994 was in 2013 copied and re-enacted by real Librarians from Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, USA. Mark Ferbrache and Duane Freeman created a rather funny parody of the video, The video went viral and although originally could be found on sites such as the Rolling Stone music magazine and website, it has since been taken down from such sites with the message "sorry this video does not exist" in its place. This is due to copyright infringement, exactly the message the video was trying to emphasise. The video has since been published by Graham Steel on YouTube:


The video shows librarians acting as a vigilante, hunting down book thieves and interrogating these thieves. Showing people stealing content, which in it's simplest form is being stolen physically, however I think this is also representing other forms such as online stealing and copying.

This message could be viewed as rather ironic, in that the creators of this video in fact themselves have stolen content by copying and using the Beastie Boys song Sabotage. Does that make them pirates, are they copying or plagiarising? Are they breaking the law by taking from the record label EMI? They have not used the exact same video, this is their own but is it copyright infringement as they are using this particular song which is not theirs? 

Graham Steel can also be seen as also infringing rights by posting the video on YouTube. YouTube makes money out of video sharing, when a user uploads a video they are shown a message asking them not to violate copyright laws. YouTube does not govern each and every video that is posted, copyright holders are left to issue take down notices to offending users. It is argued that YouTube should do more to govern the content that is posted but this sort of task requires a great deal of money and time aswell as people to actually implement this. In 2007 YouTube introduced a tool that automatically detects if a video is infringing copyright, known as Content ID, the effectiveness of this has come into question as it is not implemented by a human, it is reliant on a machine. 


Intellectual Property

Intellectual property gives rights to the author who produces a work of creativity, to give them an incentive to produce, and the access granted for public use. There are 4 different types:
  1. Patents (inventions)
  2. Trademarks
  3. Designs for product appearance 
  4. Copyright

Copyright in the UK begins as soon as a work is created. If you do a doodle on a piece of paper, as soon as you have done so the work is automatically copyrighted. It is the legal right that grants the creator of the work exclusive rights to its use and distribution. This is usually for a limited time depending on if it is a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, film, sound recording or broadcast. There is the economic perspective which means that the artist of the work makes money so they continue to produce. There is also the perspective that copying is wrong and therefore a fundamental right of the artist. In the courts they look at the economic impact if some works are used, if the economic impact is not significant the court may see this as Fair Dealing.  


This diagram coined by Stefan Larsson, asks the question whether copying equates to theft? Theft removes the original and piracy makes a copy. Is it similar in terms of economics, piracy is the unauthorised reproduction of material owned by other people. What about on the World Wide Web? You can share and enhance access without breaking the law. The lines are blurred as to what is right when talking of the Internet and copyright.

Creative Commons (2001)

Creative Commons was founded in 2001 by James Boyle, Hal Abelson and Lawrence Lessig. It was in response to the problem that copyright is very restrictive in that it promotes the idea that all rights are reserved and permission always needs to be asked. The Creative Commons allowed for a move to skip the intermediaries, that actually there are instances that an artist does not mind their work being used and therefore licenses are available for this. Creative Commons gives the green light as if to say some rights are reserved, you may use this. People do not need to gain permission as this has already been granted, content is released with a licence. 


The main concept of Creative Commons is that you are free to:
  • Share - to copy, distribute, display and perform the work 
  • Remix - to make derivatives of the work 
However you must attribute the work to the author, not use it for commercial purposes, and under share alike you can alter or build upon the work and distribute this the same way with the use of licenses. Creative Commons therefore is a  very effective solution in that it works with copyright, not against it. It is an example that as times change, intellectual property and copyright laws also need to change, to adjust to the ever growing technology market that presents new ways in which work is used, accessed and shared.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Session 3: Amateurs, Authorship & Journalism: Self Publishing & The Digital Age

Walter Benjamin, The Film & Liquidisation


Walter Benjamin has been previously covered when talking about The Author As Producer. This is further highlighted in his work: The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction. I feel it pertinent to comment that the book cover shown above is particularly unique and clever, showing the spine of the book itself repeatedly as if on a shelf. This mass media or reproduction is significant in that the audience has greater access which allows themselves to become critics but eliminates it's unique existence. Benjamin mentions a quote in his work in which Abel Gance (1927) states that "Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven will make films". Benjamin points out the power of film and that it is has:
"a destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidisation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage".
Liquidisation can be seen to mean, dissolved, losing it's structure or to dumb things down. Emphasising that the fine arts then become popular culture. That there is something authentic about an original piece of work but when it is mass produced it spreads it, losing its authenticity and is open to different interpretations. Some may see this as betraying the original but these different translations means you are making it accessible to a whole new audience. For example producing a work as a film will allow people who do not have access to the literature to see it in a different form. Although this has different time constraints to a book it is allowing it to reach an audience who do not necessarily have to be literate. You can know what a book is about without actually having to read it.    

H.P Lovecraft "Amateur Journalism"

H.P Lovecraft published an essay in 1966, written around 1920 titled: Amateur Journalism: Its Possible Needs And Betterment. Lovecraft talks of amateur journalism within his essay and splits it in two sections. In the first section he is worried that work written by amateurs has no body to govern what they produce. He would rather have a "centralised authority capable of exerting a kindly, reliable and more or less invisible guidance in matters aesthetic and artistic". He rather it be managed by a "small group of members representing various phases and ideals" suggesting he is in fact encouraging a democracy rather than a dictatorship, so as to have a group representing diversity. He does suggest censorship which contradicts the idea of a democracy and free speech, It is rather difficult to have a body that undertakes this job, for example if you look at the present day with the likes of Twitter, is it feasible for a governing body to over see everything that is written? With regards to blogs there are certain blogs that have an editorial board so that some form of quality control is put in place. It is impractical to suggest what Lovecraft is advocating, to aim for a standardisation in amateur journalism.


In the second section Lovecraft talks of technology and the "difficulties of printing", especially financial problems it obtains. He mentions that the printing press is complex and expensive and that the introduction of the mimeograph as a low cost option, where the machine uses ink and stencils. He goes on to talk of distribution channels and the difficulty in circulating papers, and the use of producing a number of carbon copies and passing them through designated routes to try and cover large areas.

Michel Foucault "What Is An Author?"  

Michael Foucault's paper: What Is An Author? addresses the "relationship between text and author and with the manner in which the text points to this figure". It poses a number of questions, for instance is it correct to say that a work always has an author? Is everything an author writes a piece of work? Even if that piece of work is a list? Foucault  proposes that an author's name is a description and that it serves a particular function for example:
"if we proved that Shakespeare did not write those sonnets which pass for his, that would constitute a significant change and affect the manner in which the author's name functions".
The Open University produced a video which captures Foucault's essay in a nutshell. Entitled: The Author - Outside The Book. This video questions whether an author is "a literary stamp of approval". I think it is important to note that Foucault has been talking of the death of the author from around the time of the 1960's and touches on the idea of intentional fallacy, where there was a previous mistaken belief that what an author wrote and what his interpretation was of his work was the final written word on this piece of work. This is no longer the case where you have a number of interpretations of a piece of work. The question raised here is who is the author of this? Is it the original author or the person who produced the interpretation? It is far more than writing, it is also a way of interpreting and classifying works.

Matthew Kirschenbaum "What Is An @uthor?"

In Kirschenbaum's article What Is An @author?, he addresses the issue that in the past you may have read books and essays produced by an author, which would have been a restricted amount of literary materials on that particular book. Nowadays with the use of Twitter and blogs amongst many others it has opened up a vast new area of information regarding a particular book, paving way for almost an information overload on a given book. Social media has also made way for authors to have more of a presence on social media sites sites such as Twitter, This allows them to reach out to their readers or audience in a way never seen before. Readers can interact with authors creating an author reader relationship with use of tweets being replied to in real time, a huge change from the classic book tour where this was perhaps your only chance of meeting your author idol and getting your question answered.

Journalism: An Insiders Prespective

An interesting insight into the world of newspaper journalism was presented in a talk conducted by Eliza Anyangwe, a freelance editor from The Guardian. The prospect of the end of "fortress journalism" was presented as a move from print to digital to mobile. Does this mean the end of the newspaper as we know it? No, not exactly. The traditional newspaper can still co-exist with digital forms. What has clearly changed however is how these different news stories on different platforms are published. Open journalism is a phrase that comes to mind as the biggest change, a detailed definition is given below:


Previously if a journalist publishes an article and it is printed and made available to the reader, the reader can decide if they like it or not and if they did not like the publication then they would not buy it again. However, with open journalism as newspapers have gone digital, the journalist is no longer the expert as fans are able to contribute and some of which may be experts in the topic that the journalist has written an article about, more so than the journalist themselves. Open journalism is seen as a business model, reaching out to a wider community. There are still differences between the different newspapers using different models. The Times adopting a paid subscription service where as The Guardian have not.

The success of the new move to the digital medium has brought about a change in this model. These are as follows:

Generation 1: Sponsors and members to keep them there - engagement and jobs advertising.

Generation 2: Traffic, get people to read content, sponsors, members - engagement, which has changed with the online community. 

This engagement online now poses the question of quality, you have to weigh up what value does the engagement have, should newspapers be allowing comments to be open. Or does this open up the way for more trolls or extreme views to be aired. Should extremist views allowed to be aired? The question of free speech is brought into the equation and whether this should just be left to Twitter and Facebook and not brought onto the newspaper's network. 

Open Journalism Positives & Negatives

Open journalism is user generated, and therefore can be seen to be diverse in nature as opinions are from across the spectrum. From a source that is governed, we can ask the question of how diverse can it be? It reflects the views most common to it's editors and owners who all may have biases in some form, cultures and backgrounds have to be considered when reporting on stories.

Open journalism does come with it's downsides, as it is user generated a lot of what is produced may be good however a vast number of it is no good. Your digital footprint also must be considered, once you produce something and post to the web, once it is seen it cannot be unseen and if it has been re produced there is no way of taking it down or erasing it. This also poses the question of archiving. What do we archive and who should be in charge of archiving? For example if WordPress no longer existed what would happen to all blog posts?

The Golden Age: Self Publishing & Social Media

There is no doubt that the introduction of social media sites such as Twitter & Facebook have changed the way in which we receive our news and also the way in which news is published. No longer are people solely going to the big national newspapers, whether it be print or digital, but people are relying heavily on receiving news on social media sites. This allows news to be received much quicker than waiting on a published article. People of course are using apps such as Sky News to gain up to date, real time news as and when it happens. However these articles tend not to be complete as it is a way of just getting news to the reader as fast as possible.  

Twitter is a prime example of this self publishing journalism that we are now finding as everyday folk like ourselves are turning into journalists and reporting on the news. Daniel Wickham, an LSE student, tweeting about the Charlie Hebdo story himself highlighting facts about each leader that attended the march with added links to back up his stories. Where traditional journalists were telling a different story Daniel was taking a different angle and proved to be credible as he backed up his story with facts. In this way he became a journalistic asset. 

The use of digital tools for example camera and video footage means that everyday people have the ability to report on stories that the national newspapers also rely on for eye witness video accounts as opposed to or as well as their own video reporters.  


The podcast: The Year Of Engagement: Looking Back At 2014, is an insightful listen to the digital media trends of the past year. There is mention of social media over taking search engines in how readers find news and mobile over taking desktop as to how we read and share our news. There is reference to Facebook as being a giant, and not just a social media outlet but a news outlet, in which people find content. There is also a reference to the fact that newspaper sales are falling and the two different models adopted by the two news giants The Guardian and The Times, although two different business models in modern journalism they are both based on the concept of community. 

Contributoria: "Community Funding, Collaborative Journalism"

Journalism is changing, there are citizen journalists and bloggers who are writing for free, how do trained journalists and free lancers compete with this? One response to citizen journalists working for free is: Contributoria, an independent journalism community. It encourages teamwork, writers and journalists collaborate in editing and publishing an article. It is a 3 month process from pitching an idea to it being published. Journalists are able to state a price they want for their article and then the article appearing amongst others in monthly online issues.  

This model of crowd funding journalism however has not proved itself, one site in particular Spot.us had to be shut down for a number of reasons. A few of these being because many of the projects were funded by friends and family as opposed to the community and people only tended to fund the once.

The Last Call & The Last Word

The Last Call, by Clay Shirky (2014) talks of the end of the printed newspaper and the three things newspaper journalists should be doing to ensure job safety:
  1. Get good at understanding and presenting data.
  2. Understand how social media can work as a newsroom tool.
  3. To get newsroom experience, working in teams and launching new things.
The media is still doing what it always has done, it is just doing so in different forms, mediums and in different ways. It is ultimately about connecting people to stories. But open journalism has allowed for faster access, reaching a wider audience and the open dialogue that opens the communication channel for comments on these stories. Everyday people have become more than just the readers of news, they now in fact contribute to the news.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Session 2: History Of Publishing: Disruptive Technology, The Knowledge Economy & The Sharing Economy

Printing History Timeline

This comprehensive print timeline covers the history of print from around the world. The link below allows you to view it in more detail.

Brecht & The Modern Day

There is scope to cover a number of areas looking at the history of publishing, one unconventional form highlighted is by Brecht (1930) in the theatre which is discussed in the following video: An Introduction To Brechtian Theatre. It discusses how the audience play an active role and where there is a paradox between belief and disbelief, as they are aware it is just a play but are somehow absorbed by the story presented to them so much so they believe it is happening. The audience feel part of the play and are exposed, for example an actor touching them on the shoulder allowing this type of participation to happen. Brecht emphasises the author as the producer, that it was not only about dialogue but about technology and effects. The audience is exposed to this as staff producing sound effects are not conducted behind the scenes but shown on stage for all to see.


I highlight interaction as this idea presented by Brecht changed the means of publishing in his time in the theatre from a one way dialogue between audience and actors to a two way dialogue. Dadaism also used this idea by re using old material, everyday objects such as the urinal to make new forms of art.

We move from forward Brecht to introducing a video from the London Book Fair: Future Gazing. Asking the question what is the future of publishing? As well as the mention of self publishing becoming significant as it is more than just about traditional publishing, the most important point was about interactive apps being brought to the forefront of the  modern day publishing world allowing two way dialogue with it's readers or audience. It is important to note this same idea of interaction with the audience was highlighted by Brecht in his time. A funny side note to the video is that when speaking of trends the actual print book was not in fact mentioned.

Walter Benjamin: "The Mass Is The Matrix"

The question that is posed is why do we flock to see original pieces of work when mass mechanical representation  in the form of postcards, prints and other forms are readily available, for example the Mona Lisa, a much loved painting. The original must then have a certain "magic" or significance to it for people to come in their masses to see this work of art. So the mass publication in this sense does not take away from the original piece of work. It still holds an air of importance.

Marshall McLuhan "The Medium Is The Message"

Marshall McLuhan articulated a compelling message that the medium that is used to get a form of work across to the audience influences how the message is perceived. This concept is discussed by Marshall McLuhan in the video: The Medium Is The Message. He emphasises technology as being particularly instrumental, technology by the means of television and radio which was the technology of his time. Television for instance will make you speak in a certain way and have a particular audience as does radio. McLuhan compares hot media with cool media. He reveals that hot media engages only one sense completely, with little interaction from the audience. He reveals that cool media engages a number of senses, with a great deal of interaction from the audience.

Paper As Medium & Technology

It makes sense when talking about the history of publishing to refer to some aspect of the medium of paper. A very enjoyable read is The Woman Who Invented Notepaper: Towards A Comparative Historiography Of Paper And Print by T.H Barrett.


Paper as a medium and technology is important to the history of the book, and other forms of physical print. In the historiography of the West we tend to focus on the process of printing materials and print history as opposed to looking at paper. In this article Barrett refers to this comparative between the Western world and the East. He states there are no known records of printing technology in China, which does not mean it does not exist, but perhaps due to cultural differences emphasis is made on the technology of the paper. Paper as a technology can mean the use of instruments or tools to create a piece of work. The significance the East especially China places on calligraphy, maybe the reason paper is held with such grace as there is a preference to the written word as a form of self expression. The history of paper begin in the Han dynasty with the use of "thin wooden strips that could take but one or two columns of carefully written characters each", and by 400 CE paper came into use.    

The article quite controversially points out that a woman, in fact a courtesan, Xue Tao, took the lead and was responsible for the invention of notepaper. Xue Tao was known for writing poetry often only 28 characters long and the paper of this period in China was particularly large, as compared with Europe. Here it is important to note the medium was as important as the message as Xue Tao "asked the manufacturers to produce sheets of a smaller size that might produce both aesthetic and economic benefits when used as the medium for her poems". Hence the notepaper was invented. As time went on Chinese history still maintains that even as time went on the "historiography of paper trumped print every time" and that not until the "nineteenth century that we get any detailed account of how Chinese printing was conducted at all".

Disruptive Technology

Disruptive technology is an innovation in which one form of work, eventually replaces another. For instance certain technologies disrupt previous technologies such as desktop publishing disrupting traditional publishing, how the computer has disrupted the published written word. This should not be seen in a negative way but rather as a positive move to improved access and improved services. That the medium is as important as the message in which it carries.

The Knowledge Economy

The knowledge economy as stated by Peter Drucker (1960) is the skills and expertise of workers, or the "knowledge worker" who allows for the success of industries, regions and economies. It is important to invest in these skills for workers as it has a positive impact on the company or industry in question as opposed to workers just undertaking manual work. The quality and access to information is of greater importance than the means of production.

The Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is a need to share goods or services as opposed to owning them. When considering libraries this is quite an old concept borrowing books as opposed to owning them. This has cost benefits amongst others. The use of information technology has allowed the concept of the sharing economy to sky rocket with the use of personal computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Allowing such services and goods to be accessed and distributed at the touch of a button.

Publishing Redefined

John Feather (2006) states that publishing is:
"the commercial activity of putting books into the public domain. Publishers decide what to publish and then cause it to be produced in a commercially viable form; the product is then advertised and sold through a network of wholesalers and retailers".
This definition is rather limited and can be said to no longer apply. It refers to traditional publishing of books and although it refers to producing them in a viable form which can be taken to mean produced as e-books, this is not clear, It is about enabling access to information using information technology as well as publishing in its traditional sense.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Session 1: Introduction: Why "Publishing"?


Publishing Defined

It can be said that publishing is defined as a process of production and dissemination of books, journals, music, literature and other material, making this information available to the general public.

This definition mentions the general public as it is as much about getting to know your audience as the production of a work. Just as importantly there is no mention of technology which is changing the face of publishing more so than ever, making individuals their own publisher with the use social media sites such as Twitter.

I came across a very interesting video: How Medium Is Changing The Publishing World by EV Williams. The Twitter co founder discusses why the publishing platform has gained popularity with the blogging community. He talks about wanting to democratise blogging and want as many voices in the world as possible.

Where Publishing Fits In

It is important to consider where publishing fits in with the data, information, knowledge and wisdom chain. This diagram highlights the overlap between producers and consumers. The information presentation and organisation being the middle ground, and which gives information meaning. Information can then be transformed into knowledge and wisdom.


The Upside Down Video

YouTube can be described as an extremely effective way of publishing, using video. It can reach a number of people in a short amount of time, across different languages. Also allowing for open dialogue on the published video in the form of comments. DK publishing took advantage of this by producing the following video uploaded in 2010: DK Publishing - The Future Of Publishing. I found this video very effective and pulled a bit at the heart strings, just when you think the speaker is giving in to the concept of this being the end of publishing we are found to be in a situation where the text is reversed and in fact this is not the case at all. I must add this is not the first we see of this upside down type video. Another video actually published in 2006: Lopez Murphy For President - Truth, has the same effect as the DK video, pulling at your heart strings as a political advertisement in Argentina. Video has a major role in the current publishing world, incorporating interaction that combines words and pictures.

The Author As Producer

A quite difficult but interesting read is: The Author As Producer. By Walter Benjamin, Translation by John Heckman. (1970). What is debated is the relation between political tendency and quality of a work. In other words form and content. The author does not begin with works such as a novel but in living context and talks about how the function of how a work is produced at that time considering it's current situation, and it's technique. As he describes "we stand in the midst of a powerful process of the transformation of literary forms, a process of transformation in which many of the oppositions with which we used to work could lose their power".

I feel he was speaking well ahead of his time. He could easily be talking about the likes of YouTube and Twitter making way to publish news and other works, posing a threat to the newspaper amongst others. Benjamin in fact talks of the newspaper and how a reader becomes a writer. He also touches upon photographs being of importance and "owe their extraordinary growth to techniques of publication: to radio and the illustrated press". Speaking of Dadaists making still pictures and showing them to the public, leading also to photo-montage and giving captions to photos. Music is also mentioned transforming songs with words. Benjamin predicts that new literary forms will stem from these. 

I shall finish by highlighting Benjamin as he states "the determinant factor of production that enables it to lead other producers to this production, and to present them with an improved apparatus for their use . This apparatus leads consumers to production, it is capable of making co-workers out of readers or spectators". This goes back to the point that audience is an important part of publishing and allowing an effective means of production to reach this audience is paramount. This means of production allows readers or the audience to in fact become publishers themselves.