Publics and Publishing: Final Essay

Question 1:

‘It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves—the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public—has stopped being a problem.’ (Clay Shirky, ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’, http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/ newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/). Are digital and networked media dismantling the “publishing industry”? Is it being replaced? If so, what is replacing it? If not, what is the publishing industry becoming, and how is it doing so? Are there new difficulties and complexities or expenses involved?

Word Count: 2000

Since the technological development of digital media and the Internet has taken place in our society, the consequential impact on various publishing industries and the resulting effects for society has become increasingly apparent. It is therefore important to outline characteristics of particular publishing industries to determine and analyse their effects, developments and functions in a digital age.

Publishing generally means to make something publically known and available which was unknown before (Wikipedia, 2014). This process has occurred for thousands of years in numerous forms, such as cave paintings, stone circles, hieroglyphics, writing, the printing press and the computer. Such examples are different publishing forms that humans from all different cultures and centuries have executed to fulfil publishing’s remaining fundamental purpose. Education and culture publishing has always adjusted its technique according to technological development. Thus, it is important to clarify that digital and networked media did not impact on “the publishing industry” but rather on the previous, most popular Western publishing form, the print publishing industry.

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As every new publishing invention has always had societal consequences, print publishing also significantly impacted on society. Eisenstein (1979) outlines how print media has made education available for everyone through major changes, such as “increased output and altered intake, private reading and cross cultural interchanges” (Eisenstein, 1979). This insight exemplifies how characteristics of a new publishing medium might carry significant advantages for society, so that it is not only adapted but also completely overshadows previously accepted publishing forms.

Similarly, digital publishing caused the major publishing adaption of digital media and therefore initially dismantled the print publishing industry. Digital publishing arguably suited and partly caused our society’s fast paced lifestyle. Its independent network-characteristics met the demands of the people so that demands for traditional print media rapidly decreased. Mike Shatzkin (2012) along with many other writers, economists and publishers, evaluates how the introduction of digital publishing caused print to become too expensive and not profitable. If one focuses on the terminology of replacement, digital publishing therefore replaced media that was publishing in print before.

One of the essential characteristics of digital publishing is the Internet, which enables numerous novel opportunities for people to autonomously engage and produce publishable content. Rainie and Wellman (2012) evaluate one of the main facets that makes an online appearance and thus digital publishing so attractive. “Networked Individualism” (Rainie & Wellman, 2012) describes the individual’s shift from being a member in a bound local group to being an autonomously acting individual in shifting networks. One can be an individual user in many different networks and thus has greater information sources and communities that individually suit one’s demands and preferences. A networked individual can thus autonomously publish content online without depending on a secondary publishing institution.

Anderberg (2006) supports this claim and states: “The Internet is certainly challenging the traditional print model. More people are going to the Web for information, blogs are becoming a news source and online ad revenues for news-related sites are increasing. Meanwhile, newspaper circulations are in a steady decline, as are ad revenues, and newsrooms are being gutted of reporters” (Anderberg, 2006). Shatzkin (2012) evaluates how a book today competes with more books in two weeks than it would have 50 years ago in a whole year. He emphasises that in digital there is “unlimited shelf-space” while the “bookstore shelf space is declining” (Shatzkin, 2012).

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Although digital publishing has arguably dismantled parts of the print publishing industry, print publishing has however started to adapt. Every form of publishing has always changed and furthered itself according to new technological opportunities. The print publishing industry therefore started to transform into partly digital formats to meet new requirements and suit society’s demands. Coscarelli (2012) displays how declining newspaper revenues determine the introduction of digital advertising and online subscriptions to stay competitive. Doctor (2013) similarly refers to the newspaper industry’s change by stating that “it has transitioned its print subscribers to an all-access model — and gotten an astounding number to link their print subscriptions to digital accounts” (Doctor, 2013). Shatzkin (2012) explains how publishers who own the rights of particular books simply started publishing them as an electronic version to secure their existence. Thus it becomes obvious that the print publishing industry is not simply being replaced but adjusts to meet demands of society and technological opportunities but also remains with its original ethics.

The shift towards digital publishing causes various new difficulties, complexities and expenses that arguably still need to be explored and regulated. As digital publishing predominantly appears through the global phenomenon the Internet it is difficult to control. There are no international laws that apply for the regulation of publishing of digital content.

Due to the absence of international laws, it is impossible to secure copyright, prevent defamation and protect oneself from trolling. The fact that every user can publish and access the same content and website independently from time and space makes it very difficult and complicated to control a space, such as the global anarchic cyberspace.

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One approach to control particular content is paywalls. However these incorporate controversy as Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief at The Guardian, outlines by claiming that despite the economic benefit, paywalls reject “the idea of free journalism and the new sociological engagement with online information” (Busfield, 2010). Paywalls are nevertheless not the only way of adjustment to/with digital publishing. To satisfy the Internet’s interactive demands, numerous publishing institutions now not only appear with equal content online, but also transform into interactive, mobile communication bodies that appear on social network websites, such as Twitter, to offer their audience interaction and personal engagement.

Another major complexity of print publishing’s shift to digital is the new form of archiving and its implied authority. Paywalls are one such example how newspapers organise and regulate their information and thus execute authority about their readers’ access to information. Derrida (1995) explains that all media in the one hand constructs archives and simultaneously destroys others. Digital publishing introduces numerous forms of new archives. Users are their own archivists and regulate the information that they publish online and therefore function as what Parikka (2013) terms “miniarchivists”. Websites, such as Twitter, are archiving all these individual archives while they are regulated by law systems. Although the Internet is a global phenomenon, it is still subordinate to individual countries’ regulations. Certain countries might restrict social networks, which exemplifies their greater executing power through regulating digital archives. Digital archives, however, simplify the re-organisation and re-storing of information to meet individual needs and therefore destroy old (possibly print) archives.

Nevertheless, these novel forms of archives do not only create new authorial power execution and a top-down control system of the government controlling the people (surveillance). It also enables mutual control (co-veillance) and a bottom-up approach (sous-veillance), where the people can now watch their authorities (Rainie & Wellman, 2012).

The environmental impact of print publishing also transforms with the shift to digital publishing, which decreases the demand for paper and therefore positively impacts on the destruction of forests. On the other hand it requires increasingly more Coltan, a mineral that is used to build digital technologies, which causes increasing conflicts and ecological damage in Africa (Parra, 2010).

Other critics focus on digital’s increasing impact on the content of published information. Self (2014) points out how the quality of digital content declines in comparison to traditional print publications, as challenging reading and information are increasingly vanishing. Contributing to this argument, Lehrer (2010) explains how modern technologies simplify the perception of information and that intellectual engagement therefore becomes too flat.

Agent of Change

There has been a lot of academic research conducted to clarify these new ways of engagement with digital content. Baron (2013) evaluates how there are new preferences in reading genres. She claims that a digitally published novel would not be one’s preferred choice to digitally consume. Additionally she refers to research that has shown that young people believe they learn more from print (e.g., Baron, in press a, in press b; Dominick, 2005; Student Monitor, 2011) compared to digital.

In the networked world of digital publishing everyone who can access the platform can participate, which creates a more democratic social landscape but simultaneously constructs a space for unreliable information distribution. This decreased validity displays a major weakness in digital publishing. Content can also be constantly edited which makes it lesser reliable than print media. As digital content can be published regardless of trustworthy information sources, digitally published information is arguably more unreliable than print. Doctor (2013) talks about the evidence for people’s trust in reliable information sources such as newspapers, which have become apparent through the success of online paywalls.

To continue to successfully transform into an adjusted print publishing industry, institutions such as newspapers do not only have to change technology but adjust their employees. The new affordances of digital publishing are predominantly requiring re-education of staff for new positions, such as online advertisers or graphic designers. This costs time and money, both of which are highly valued commodities in digital publishing.

It is not only the industry itself that has to adjust. It is also the users. With the majority of content appearing solely in digital form, there is a new requirement: the ability to access digital information and afford technology to access this information. How should an older generation who does not know how to deal with technology access digital data? Many argue that the reading experience in digital changes drastically as it requires re-education, coping with a missing tactile experience and new issues such as battery lives.

It is apparent that print and digital publishing differ in their regulations, affordances and standards in attempting to fulfil the expectations of their mediums. It becomes impossible to measure one with the values of the other. Print publishing offers greater credibility, indepth information, is stable and long lasting and therefore arguably of higher quality. “The book, after all, is a time-tested technology. We know that it can endure, and that the information we encode in volutes of ink on pulped trees can last for centuries” (Lehrer, 2010).

Digital publishing on the other hand offers more information, thus quantity, as well as numerous aforementioned sub-functions, such as creating networked individualism, social networking sites and “a permanent record of event” (Ogle,2010). “It’s never been easier to buy books, read books, or read about books you might want to buy. How can that not be good?” (Lehrer, 2010). Brannon (2007) articulates a prediction by saying: “Five hundred years ago, Eisenstein claims, the invention of rigid metal types helped to stabilise the texts, and thus ideas, in the emerging modern world; today, I propose, the unfixing of typography creates an opposite movement, a destabilisation of text” (Brannon, 2007).

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This analysis of the battle “book vs e-book” will not have an outstanding winner. Regarding expressive problems that the publishing industry has solved so far, one has to acknowledge looking back on the problems that different publishing methodologies have solved. Hand-written books exemplify the solution for user-generated publishing with autonomous control but difficult distribution. Print publishing however simplified the distribution but implied the publisher’s authority over the content. Despite technological restrictions, such as character count limit, digital publishing solves both issues, as it is user generated and easy to distribute. Nevertheless, it is important to respect that users have the power to consciously decide which technology will deliver the requested information.

It makes therefore sense to conclude this essay by referring to Orr (1998), who states that “Print and electronic media both can survive into the next century, each serving the needs of the public at different times and for different purposes. Reasons why these media will be able to co-exist include: 1. Print is tactile. 2. Print is portable. 3. Print wins in graphics. 4. Print is reliable. 5. Electronic media is fun. 6. Electronic media is searchable. 7. Electronic media is fast and it is the ultimate in convenience” (Orr, 1998). There is a clear trend towards increasing digital publishing but it is also arguably obvious that print publishing will never cease.
Reference List:

  1. Anderberg, K. (2006). Print is dead. Communications News, 43(9), pp.4 (1).
  2. Baron, N. (2013). Do mobile technologies reshape speaking, writing, or reading?. Mobile Media & Communication, 1(1), pp.134-140.
  3. Brannon, Barbara A. (2007) ‘The Laser Printer as an Agent of Change’ in Baron, Sabrina et al., (eds.) Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press: 353-364
  4. Busfield, Steve (2010) ‘Guardian editor hits back at paywalls’, The Guardian, January 25, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls>
  5. Coscarelli, Joe (2012) ‘The New York Times Is Now Supported by Readers, Not Advertisers’, New York Magazine, June 26, <http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/07/new-york-times-supported-by-readers-not-advertisers.html>.
  6. Derrida, J. (1995) ‘Archive Fever – A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics, 25 (2), pp 9-63.
  7. Doctor, K. (2013)  ‘The newsonomics of The New York Times’ Paywalls 2.0’, Nieman Journalism Lab, November 21, <http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/11/the-newsonomics-of-the-new-york-times-paywalls-2-0/>.
  8. Eisenstein, E. (1979) ‘Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture’, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1, pp 43-163
  9. Lehrer, J. (2010) ‘The Future of Reading’, Wired, September 8, <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2>
  10. Ogle, M. (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, mattogle.com, December 16, <http://mattogle.com/archivefever/>.
  11. Orr, A. (1998) “You can’t take a laptop into the bathtub”, Target Marketing, 21 (8), p 1.
  12. Parikka, J. (2013) ‘Archival Media Theory: An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology’, Ernst, Wolfgang Digital Memory and the Archive Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 1-22.
  13. Parra, J. (2014). Congo: The Coltan Conflict is in Our Hands (and Cellphones). [online] Global Voices. Available at: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/02/20/congo-the-coltan-conflict-is-in-our-hands-and-cellphones/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2014].
  14. Rainie, L., & Wellman, B. (2012) Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  15. Self, Will (2014) ‘The novel is dead (this time it’s for real)’, The Guardian, May 2, <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/02/will-self-novel-dead-literary-fiction>
  16. Shatzkin, Mike (2012) ‘Some things that were true about publishing for decades aren’t true anymore’, The Idea Logical Company, January 12, <http://www.idealog.com/blog/some-things-that-were-trueaboutpublishing-for-decades-arent-true-anymore>
  17. Wikipedia, (2014). Publishing. [online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishing [Accessed 30 Oct. 2014].

Images: All by author

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Week 9: Recorded Unvisualised Content

Reference list:

Week 8: I wish I could copy/paste an image into this headline ;-)

Visualisation. The literal meaning of that word could be arguably understood as being equal to what it means to publish. In essence making content public and publically available to an audience that wasn’t public before. The only condition that distinguishes visualisation from publishing is the requirement that the visualised/published content must be visually construable. In this instance printing a book is the visualisation of written words and/or the publishing of those. Does one determine the other? Are they really both the same or rather interdependent processes? Maybe visualisation is a pre-requisite for visual publishing. If something is not visually available, I can’t publish it to be seen by an audience.

The visualisation of cave paintings, stone circles, hieroglyphs up to the visualisation of letters, words and therefore books have always impacted massively on society and sociability. Referring back to one of my earlier examples in this blog, the protestant reformation is one great example how the publishing of the bible/the visualisation of christianity’s fundamental basis caused such an immense revolutionary social movement.

Today visualisation implies crazy graphs, digitally mediated content, dynamic tools and as Mr Arnell (2006) explains how it enables us to “express something three- or four dimensional in two dimensions” (Arnell, 2006). In a digital information age I believe that we can all agree that technological development influences our society through how we see, perceive and understand content that is visualised for us.

Infosthetic (2007) exemplifies a very basic but even more effective kind of visualisation. Two pictures showing one the one hand a whole load of paprikas, and on the other hand a small amount of chips. A very easy visualisation of what you can get for the same amount of calories, which leads me to my next point. So if visualisation helps us to communicate messages a lot easier, quicker and even more effective than a long written explanation (or visualised words I should say), is that the result of psychological and marketing research? Did the technological development of digital media force our brains to hyper react to images rather than to texts? Is that the reason why we study visual communications?-to apply psychological and social research to concepts that help us to improve our market influence and manipulation.

Bick (2014) argues that “complex data visualisation has grown in popularity over the past decade”(Bick, 2014). HD screens and retina displays belong in all our devices and support us even more to decode all the various kinds of visualisations that the producers of this world encoded for us. But still, on the one hand, technology only enables us to encode these new forms of visualisations/to make something invisible (our ideas/data/mindset) visible and on the other hand we can only decode them through this technology. So the technology is in the centre of it all? Again?

How this has impacted on society as a whole becomes clear when one regards the effectiveness of information delivery of a pie chart. 90% of people would memorise proportions better after seeing a pie chart compared to a table with only visualised letters, numbers, words and symbols. What does that tell us? Theory, that I also mentioned in previous blog posts displays how our brains and attention are more likely to focus on digital/pictorial delivered information, which is easier to consume than difficultly written texts.

Of course it is nice and beautiful to look at an amazingly composed graphic visualisation of data. Compact, easy, fast and effective! But does it push us more and more into a backwards regression? Will we soon be looking back in our children’s books without text? Will we develop away from literacy towards solely visual-literacy?

— Sorry that I could only visualise words here. I don’t quite know yet how to visualise such a post as an image.

References:

Week 7: I am me. I am you. We are me. Who am I?

  1. I am.
  2. I am a student.
  3. I am an ARTS2090 student.
  4. I am a smart phone owner.
  5. I am participating on social media.
  6. I am a Facebook user.
  7. I am sharing personal content on Facebook.
  8. I am tagged on party photos on Facebook.
  9. I am sharing current moods and emotions on Facebook.
  10. I am also a physiotherapist in Germany.
  11. I am and always have been aware of the need to distinguish my professional life from my personal life.
  12. I am therefore using a different name on Facebook.
  13. I am hiding my real identity from my Facebook appearance.
  14. I am aware that that’s against Mr Zuckerberg’s regulations.
  15. I am also aware that I am not the only one who is doing that.
  16. I am not sure if it is true that I am thus part of what Ben Grosser (2014) claims to be the increasingly homogenised Facebook community.
  17. I am thinking that there are still a lot of different profile types on Facebook, which are varying from business sites to overly transparent sites of some highly self-expressive individuals, to fake profiles and to people like me.
  18. I am asking myself if that’s really homogenised.
  19. I am not sure.
  20. I am afraid though that I become unconsciously a victim of Facebook news feed algorithm manipulation.
  21. I am hooked by Mr “Codingconduct’s” (tumblr name) (2014) thought about what happens if politician’s start to pay Facebook to manipulate our Facebook algorithms to favour them.
  22. I am uncertain if I should be afraid of such probable actions or if Mr “Codingconduct” has just emotionally manipulated me?
  23. I am sure that manipulation only works if the manipulator shares common worldviews and beliefs with the manipulated.
  24. I am sure that only then justificatory support for the manipulator’s central claim succeeds.
  25. I am thus aware that Mr “Codingconduct’s” concern only concerns me because we share the same worry and expectation of Facebook.
  26. I am aware that I only see a third of my actual Facebook news feed, as evaluated by Mr Herrera (2014).
  27. I am sure that someone else has thought about what to select of my Facebook news for me to be seen.
  28. I am a passive consumer of my own content.
  29. I am deciding which part of the news feed is interesting for me.
  30. I am informed that research puts much effort in finding out what my worldviews and beliefs are to aim to purposely lead my emotions into a certain direction to gain economic or even political benefits from it.
  31. I am nevertheless aware that I am an individual and have my own brain.
  32. I am able to defend myself against manipulation.
  33. I am agreeing with Mr Gillespie when he concludes with “I think these represent a deeper discomfort about an information environment where the content is ours but the selection is theirs.” (Gillespie, 2014)
  34. I am thus even more motivated to increase self-reflection to not become a victim of someone else’s decision to influence my emotions and thought.
  35. I am an individual.
  36. I am not passive.
  37. I am.

References:

Week 6: Can Commons Capitalise on their Concerns of Capitalism?

Correct me if I’m wrong but when reading Stefan Meretz’s Ten Theses About Global Commons Movement (2010) I understand the term ‘commons’ as a description of a global movement of diverse people who stand objectively in opposition to capitalism and want to find a new, non-material way of production. Or as Jay Walljasper (2010) says that the commoners see possibilities for large numbers of people of diverse ideological stripes coming together to chart a new, more cooperative direction for modern society. I prefer not to call it a movement that works against government controlled and corporate market economies, but rather a movement that wants to alter those characteristics away from materialism.

Walljasper (2010) states that “sweeping transformations that rearrange the workings of an entire culture begin imperceptibly, quietly but steadily entering people’s minds until one day it seems the ideas were there all along.” He explains how movements, government system alterations and societal changes have begun and succeeded in this way in the past to integrate corporate power and market fundamentalism on examples of Thatcher, Reagan or Mitterrand (Walljasper, 2010). I think we would all agree that there was never a more easy, wide reaching and fast method than using modern, mobile communication technology to cause such movements and implement controversial thinking into society. One of the most recent examples that spontaneously comes to mind is the Arab Spring. Knowing that this was not a movement that focused on the change away from corporate economies, this example clarifies that it was a social movement that started on Facebook and resulted in revolutions and civil wars to change political systems and authority.

Social media such as Facebook and its new forms of publishing make it easier to spread ideas. They make it easier for commons to communicate, exchange ideas, form groups, construct ideas and convert those into action. Another very recent example of social media’s capability to spread an idea across the world in very little time is the ALSIceBucketChallenge, which went viral. Thus social media such as Facebook is a medium that constructs, as Rheingold (2009) states, a combination of internal thoughts and ideas that can be generated and communicated through mobile communication technologies in a social cyberspace.

So, in very simple terms it could be argued that new communication technologies evens the playing field for commons to introduce their ideas and ideologies which oppose capitalist materialism in a more cost, time and quantity effective way. But hang on isn’t the whole construct based on governmental control of capitalist, western societies? Turkey’s president Erdogan’s banning of YouTube and Twitter after heavy protests against his government is a good example of the final power and control of these forms of origins of social movements, of publishing and creating collective power. Maybe Mr Zuckerberg would need to alter some of his regulations as well if there was a comparable situation in America. Who knows? So I’m asking will capitalist societies, governments, corporate markets and economies always alter publishing to cause an alteration of power, which in its final consequence might weaken their own authority?

My critical point is the assumption that as long as the interests align there won’t be an issue with the freedom of speech on social media. But keep in mind that it’s only a resource of someone you are opposed to. A whole other discussion at this point is the opportunity that lies in our and the internet’s most valuable good; attention. Maybe we have to find out more about sociological, physical and even evolutionary changes that have occurred due to the information age and that creates a whole new and multifarious set of non-material target markets.

 

References:

Week 5: Archive This Post

If I understand the term “archive” as a definition of a storage, collecting and organisation space for information to enable methodical access to the stored information, then it incorporates similar characteristics to what I understand of publishing. It is an ever evolving and changing process that aligns itself with recent technological developments and their advantages. When Gutenberg introduced the printing press, he probably and arguably also introduced the Christian reformation movement. He thus did not only introduce a new and powerful form of publishing, he also introduced new forms of archiving the bible, which therefore enhanced its accessibility and resulted in a revolutionary social movement. So archives, similarly to the publishing process, have already 500 years ago empowered information access and distribution as well as greatly impacted on established and seemingly sustainable social structures.

Within the past 500 years archives have however altered numerous times and have made significant impact on worldwide cultures and societies. In the age of the Internet we, as members of westernised societies, can choose from several archives to fulfil our demands and needs. If we were, for example, looking for an archive that collects and organises daily news and makes those accessible to us, we would probably decide to read a newspaper.

Jacques Derrida explains that all media on the one hand construct archives and simultaneously destroy others (Derrida, 1995). There are an infinite number of archives, which have developed and introduced newer versions of themselves or have even stayed the same. I would argue that in a broader context even institutions like UNSW are archives. Here I’m talking about that kind of archive that hasn’t really developed so much. The basic idea of organising education and knowledge, store it and make it accessible to students is a form of archiving, which is more than only a few hundred years old. Similar archivist functioning can be seen in individual people such as teachers. They know where to access the information they want to deliver and choose particular ways of storing and organising those.

Coming to newer forms of archiving we thus have to include the Internet into the discussion. I would argue that through the Internet, which has introduced a whole new genre of archives, the mode of access has particularly changed. Whereas we do not need to walk into a library anymore to then set up a membership in person, wait for the membership pass to be sent to one’s home by post to then walk back into the library to borrow a book, which we carry home to then read it. We can now do this whole process electronically. Google does not even require a membership for it. Our university library can also be accessed easily by entering electronic identification data to be eligible to read electronically saved information. No waiting for the post or hoping to find the actual book before someone else does. The organisation of libraries themselves as a physical space compared to an online portal is additionally very different and solely aligned with their underlying organisation technologies.

As the internet and its numerous archives is arguably the most accessed archive of today’s western society all mobile social media devices are a must have regardless of their own archiving capability. Jussi Parikka is so right when she says “ we are miniarchivists ourselves in this information society, which should be more aptly called an information management society” (Parikka, 2013). On the other hand I’m still wondering about the exact differences of archiving and information management… Nonetheless, iCloud, hard drives and the whole social media family are providing us with the new set of archives, their benefits and their requirements. I won’t go into depth, but how is my grandmother as a pre-mobile technology child supposed to access the same information that I am accessing?

Matthew Ogle argues that “providing us with new ways to share what we’re doing right now, the real time web also captures something we might not have created otherwise: a permanent record of event” (Ogle, 2010). He outlines the new content genre but also the missing out on remembering what past content was about. I argue against this approach of technological determinism. I think this is still a conscious socially determined action on how we use the Internet but I agree with Mr Ogle that we should try to use the gaps of our time’s archives for future benefits.

Overall, I have to say that whether social identification becomes weaker or stronger through archiving personal expression on social media is a subjective discussion to which I haven’t found the answer yet. But there is an obvious conclusion to something else. Developments of archiving impact on publishing as well as the other way around which will always impact on society and therefore on us individually. What we are going to do with these opportunities in the end is our responsibility. I would suggest that let’s look forward to them and use them for some constructive transformation rather than hating on everything new.

 

References:

  • Derrida, Jaques (1995) ‘Archive Fever – A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics, 25 (2), pp 9-63.
  • Ogle; Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, mattogle.com, December 16, http://mattogle.com/archivefever/.
  • Parikka, Jussi (2013) ‘Archival Media Theory: An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology’ in Ernst, Wolfgang Digital Memory and the Archive Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 1-22.

 

Week 4: I Can’t Think Of A Title And Found Only ‘Actor-Network Theory’ Too Lame. As An Independent Online Blogger I Decided That That’s Why This Is My Title.

David Banks explains what Mr Latour, Mr Callon and Mr Law named the Actor-Network Theory by defining that “ANT describes human and nonhuman ‘actants’ with the same language, and grants them equal amounts of agency within ‘webs’ or  ‘actor-networks’” (Banks, 2014). While reading other intelligent people’s works and attempts to define this arguably rather over-complicated system, I came to the conclusion that it is an approach to describe how network internal interaction consists of all its nodes, including human and non-human ones, working equally and on the same level together.

Thus I understand that I can only create this blog-post in order to have previous knowledge about the Actor-Network Theory, which several online readings kindly provided. To be able to access the websites that urge to explain the Actor-Network Theory as well as to post this blog, I need to have firstly an Information Communication Technology, a.k.a. my beautiful old and white MacBook, and access to the internet. Aiming to serve all my needs and desires, the Macbook incorporates numerous systems, technologies and electronics including the five basic elements storage, arithmetic and logical unit, control unit, input device, output device (ecsmy, 2014), which all again include a whole range of other devices, nodes and systems. All of them transmit information and obey orders and connect me with the internet as well as the internet with me. Similarly, the internet, with whom I stay in connection for publishing this piece of text, depends on systems such as infrastructure, telecommunication companies abilities and their employees’ effort to make our reciprocal connection work. The internet and I are in a state of communicational interchange, my MacBook serves me and my pre-knowledge of how to use Information Communication technology and the internet and the online publishing platform. This I gained over the last years from books, peers, friends, teachers, other communication devices and the internet itself through “learning by doing”, thus enable me to do this here.

This exercise teaches me that all these actors within my network all have to actively work to enable and influence my conscious participation in the network. As Sidorova & Sarker (2014) explain, I have to convince all of those network nodes and actors/actants to create an alignment for my interest with their interest.

Luckily, I know that we don’t have to take the Actor-Network Theory too literal as I would then have to consider relationship therapy with my motherboard instead of transferring the solely technological problem to a specialist in that big glass building on George street.

 

Reference List:

 

 

 

 

Week 3: Is there really an answer to which might be the best way of dealing with new forms of online publishing?

How profitable is it to go digital? Is there even profit? How can we manage to ‘stay modern’ and how will our business cope with the probable transition to digital publishing? These are the very questions that many publishers of print media might have asked themselves 10 or so years ago.

How can we increase the demand for our digital newspaper? How can we create interactive functions to satisfy the demands of our reactive audience and how can we simultaneously stay reliable? These are some of the questions that publishers of print and digital media might ask themselves today.

It seems a waste of energy, money and time finding out who can provide the most successful publishing platforms. I think this competition does not even have a fundamental basis as the new digital era of publishing offers extremely different forms of publishing that are not able to compete.

One example of the new publishing forms is YouTube. As the name clearly articulates, it provides its user with the possibility to autonomously produce, edit and publish individual content on an international, searchable and social interactive basis that is independent from time and space. It goes without saying that this new self-expressive tool is one of the many that showed how our society seemed to have craved for the chance to have a public voice and to create self-directed information. It also goes without saying that solely user-generated content incorporates another type of reliability and credibility than a finely researched and observed article in The New York Times.

New social trends and interests, such as performed on YouTube, forced traditional publishing to go with the flow and to react, transit and convert, while simultaneously staying with their original ethics. To increase the low revenues many people in the publishing business had to do career shifts and find themselves now in new job roles, such as freelance journalists, bloggers, online editors and online publishers etc. But the shift to a digital appearance wasn’t solely enough. Joe Coscarelli displays in his article “The New York Times Is Now Supported by Readers, Not Advertisers” how revenues continued to fall and how online advertising and introducing online subscriptions were the only ways to keep businesses going (Coscarelli, 2012).

One important aspect of this is outlined by Ken Doctor, who writes about the success of paywalls as not only being economically successful but also having shown that “it’s served as a statement that millions of readers value the Times enough to pay a fair amount of money for it. It shows people care” (Doctor, 2013), thus acknowledge its credibility.

Nonetheless, Mr Doctor talks about the issue of plateaued revenues in 2013 confronting publishers again with a new task to further develop their online self to keep the business going (Doctor,2013). I think it is quite obvious that an orientation on new/social media helps and impacts eventually on the profitability. Nowadays, all the digital newspapers have interlinks, similarly to those on Wikipedia, have interactive functions, where readers can provide feedback, and have an appearance on social media in form of an interactive member. These functions help a lot to stay timely and to use every opportunity the new era of publishing offers.

So what? What’s the moral of the story? I personally think that we all have to distinguish. On the one hand we have social media with all its functions and infinite publication and self-expression opportunities and on the other hand we have newspapers whose credible sources we don’t want to miss out on (at least I don’t). If we acknowledge that they are both completely different sources with varying opportunities, origins and philosophies behind them, there is no real competition or ultimate decision of whether to use the one or the other needed anymore. Why not gain benefits from both?

Of course there is the financial difference between those two forms and Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief at The Guardian, makes a fair point by reminding that paywalls contribute to the economic justification but speak against the idea of free journalism and the new sociological engagement with online information (Busfield, 2010). Nonetheless, I think if one isn’t an immediate eyewitness to current issues, reliable information provision depends on expertise knowledge, thorough research and professional presentation of findings. No one who is equipped with these characteristics would really execute them for nothing. Therefore I’m happy to pay for my online subscription but I also know where I can find live backchannels to major events presented in subjective online communities.

 

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Week 2: Stop complaining, start improving!

Digitalism has clearly introduced our world and society to a new era. It is the era of digitally networked societies, cultures and another step to forward globalisation. Additional key aspects, such as independency of time and space, infinite data space and no expiry date, have contributed to the beginning of another new era- the era of digital publishing.

Barbara Brannon evaluates in “The Laser Printer as an Agent of Change” several of the advantages that we gain from the technology of our time. She names searchability of text, the capability of linking related information, the ability to copy, paste and edit as well as the ability to output the same data in different forms or in different locations according to particular needs (Brannon, 2007). These are only a few of the characteristics that helped to create what McLuhan calls The Global Village. I think this is simply marvellous. Isn’t it amazing how we can all contribute to public discussions? How all of us can communicate with each other from anywhere in the world at any time with who ever we want to? Isn’t it remarkable how we can form like-minded communities beyond regional boundaries and extend our knowledge independently to what we want to know and not what others want us to know? Isn’t it incredible how we can participate in live-time communication about major events and therefore express ourselves in the way we want to present the “I”?

Of course there are always two sides of a story. Will Self is arguably right when he says that serious writing, especially in print, is at its end (Self, 2014) . Mike Shatzkin’s evaluations of the declining print media industry also contribute to that argument (Shatzkin, 2012). Print becomes too expensive and not profitable in times where everyone can be their own journalist, editor and publisher. It’s easier and cost free. This development led and leads without doubt to a flooding of content, or to put it more accurately it led and leads to violent anarchy in cyberspace. This clearly enables the expression of the vast masses of unreliable data or how Mr Self says “Surely if there’s one thing we have to be grateful for it’s that the web has put paid to such an egregious financial multiplier being applied to raw talentlessness” (Self, 2014).

I’m sure Self and Shatzkin and all the others who outline the fading of print media are right, but I’m not sure if it really is the death of print. Every trend causes a counter movement. I still certainly love reading hardcopy books and I’m sure a lot of other people do too.

Nevertheless, one important aspect in Self’s evaluation is that he admits that there still is high quality literature, text and content. I think the most important point here is to outline the existence of serious and meaningful, deep reading. It is only harder to access and find it within the jungle of the World Wide Web.

Why don’t we all spend our time, energy and money instead on the development of quality selection tools for new media than on complaining about its disadvantages? Wouldn’t that be a benefit to all of those struggling print publishing businesses, who could help support strengthening the quality of literature and use their abilities from print in digital? Maybe these kinds of selection tools embody new business opportunities?

Jonah Lehrer explains that it is the dorsal stream in our brain that is bored and that needs some new challenges from absorbing digital content because the media becomes too developed, the content perception too easy and the intellectual engagement too flat (Lehrer, 2010). So here you are, all of you who complain about the great development of digitalism. Please start to see all those weaknesses as opportunities for education, information distribution and business.

If you are missing an old outcome in the new situation, you need to find procedures to get similar outcomes within the new possibility set. I’m sure the medium is the message. Gertrude Stein already knew that in 1920. Now it’s left to us what we do with it.

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