Over the last several years, as we’ve worked to establish MediaCommons as a new kind of publisher for scholars in media studies, we’ve been very conscious that what we’ve been building is not, or at least not wholly, a new form of scholarly press. There are good reasons to build such new kinds of presses; the publishers that have served the academy in recent decades find themselves in grave fiscal danger in the current economy, and at least in part due to that danger, they haven’t been able to take on the kinds of experimentation that new fields such as media studies require. The academy desperately needs new forms of publishers, and new publishing models, in order to ensure the ongoing ability of scholars to communicate their research with one another, and in order to ensure the ability of our scholars to access the artifacts produced by that communication.
But we’re also aware that, in the age of digital social networks, we have to varying extents become our own publishers; we blog, we text, we tweet, and in so doing we communicate with one another through an increasing variety of channels, and with an increasing immediacy and ubiquity. Given this proliferation, what we need as scholars may be less a system that will manage our communication for us than a system that will allow us to manage our communication, a system than recognizes that the key aspect of scholarly communication into the future may be less the distribution of the products of our research than the management of the social networks through which our research is distributed. ... read more »
Today I have the pleasure of unveiling MediaCommons Press, a project we’ve been working toward for several months now. MediaCommons Press is the second major project hosted by MediaCommons, and it is dedicated, as the header has it, to open scholarship in open formats. MediaCommons Press hopes to promote the digital publication and discussion of texts ranging from article- to monograph-length, in forms ranging from the traditional to the experimental, serving all areas of scholarship in media studies.
Today’s also the day that I put my money where my mouth is, in more senses than one: I’m serving as the test case for MediaCommons Press by releasing, as our first major publication, the book that I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy will, if all goes according to plan, come out in print sometime next year from NYU Press, but it’s available online right now, for open review.
And that’s the second way I’m putting my money where my mouth is. One of the key arguments that I make in the book is that the peer review of digital texts must be an open, conversational process, one that draws on the wisdom of a far greater number of readers than the usual two or three anonymous reviewers, one that focuses on discussion among the reviewers, and between the reviewers and the author, and one that allows the multiplicity of responses to a text to become part of the text itself.
I hope you’ll come by and join the discussion. And I also hope you’ll consider joining in by publishing with us. MediaCommons has developed into a thriving community network in media studies; we’re excited to take the first steps today in transforming that network into a viable, community-based scholarly publishing system.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m on the SCMS Public Policy Committee and one of our main initiatives is to draft formal policy statements on how cinema & media scholars deal with copyright and fair use. Two years ago we released a best practices document outlining guidelines for teaching and pedagogy. ... read more »
This is an extremely important step for the field; the fair use concepts SCMS argued for in teaching have not only affected the ways that many of us in media studies use these texts in our teaching, but they’ve also been looked to by a number of other fields and organizations seeking to educate themselves about fair use. Many such fields are likewise facing questions about permissions and fair use in the publication of scholarship, and this statement promises to serve as a starting point and an important source of support for their own investigations.
More immediately, however, this statement has an immediate impact on the ways that we work at MediaCommons, as our disciplinary organization has now announced, plainly, that “Media scholars believe that uses of copyrighted works in multimedia scholarship are transformative, and so constitute fair use.”
Thanks are due to the SCMS Public Policy Committee for their work on this statement. We at MediaCommons look forward to discussing these best practices and to seeing them come to be accepted as part of the way that scholarship in the twenty-first century is conducted.
by Chuck Tryon — Fayetteville State University
August 06, 2009 – 18:24
One of the ongoing questions I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years is the role of blogging in reshaping film criticism. It’s a topic I tried to address in my book, particularly through the lens of the opposition between professional and amateur critics and the role of blogging in both directing attention to movies and in creating community around shared interest in movies. But as I was writing that chapter (and especially as I look back on it now), I can’t help but feel as if I was aiming at a moving target of sorts, as the various practices of film reviewing ... read more »
I’m delighted to present slidecasts of the four talks that comprised the “Media Temporalities” panel at Media in Transition 6, held Saturday 25 April 5-6:30 at MIT. I hope that, now that we’re a few months past the sometimes overwhelming MiT6 excitement, this virtual reconstruction will hold some interest for those who weren’t able to attend the session. Click the play buttons to hear an audio recording of each talk synchronized with the slides. ... read more »
As is being discussed a good bit around the academic blogo-/twittersphere this morning, Jennifer Howard reports in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education on a new report soon to be released by a committee organized by the National Humanities Alliance, entitled “The Future of Scholarly Journals Publishing Among Social Science and Humanities Associations.” This report seems to have a couple of compelling findings: first, that the per-article cost of journal publishing in the humanities and social sciences is more than three times as much as in the science, technical, and medical (a.k.a. STM) fields, and second, that this increased cost is due in no small part to the increased selectivity of those journals. ... read more »
A couple of interesting things in the inbox today:
First, a story about a new site in the physics world designed to challenge what is seen by some as the in-group exclusivity of the arXiv e-print server. The new site, called viXra, removes any restrictions on the kinds of papers that can be uploaded. Coming from the humanities, where traditional black-box peer review still holds sway, arXiv’s model already seems more or less like radical openness: the first time a scholar uploads a paper in a particular field, he or she needs to obtain the “endorsement” of an already-established scholar; once uploaded, each paper is scanned to make sure it’s not nonsense. But the folks associated with viXra allege that some scholars have been blocked from uploading papers based on the moderators’ sense that their work is too speculative, or that their papers have been “dumped” in the generic “physics” category, where they’re unlikely to be found and read. viXra’s developers make an interesting argument for the necessity of their counter-arXiv; it’ll be fascinating to see how the new site develops.
My personal hope is that other cash-strapped publishing houses will bite the bullet, move their entire libraries to digital, and send their authors a complimentary, book-shaped box of tissues to cry into when they contemplate the loss of their name on a hardcover.
I can hardly disagree with that. But I’m not entirely sold on the HUP/Scribd model of the future; we’re still essentially talking about the same system, and the same textual model, just digitally distributed. The future of scholarly publishing, I can only hope, will involve a much more radical rethinking of the role of the press and the form of the text than this model suggests.
One of the pleasures of working with Middlebury College students is advising independent work on their senior projects. While I don’t have the opportunity to work with graduate students on their dissertations, every once in awhile I have undergraduate students who do exemplary work that feels quite similar to a condensed version of the graduate thesis project. Typically they do great work, but the end result remains dormant, at best being read by a random browser in the Middlebury library. ... read more »