David Parry, "The Decline of the Author, The Rise of the Janitor"
by Dave Parry — University of Texas at Dallas
December 07, 2009 – 13:55
Although scholars have begun to utilize digital networked technologies as a distribution mechanism for their academic work, much of this work remains within the ideological structures of manuscript-based production. Scholars have used the web to distribute early versions of a manuscript, to crowd source the peer review process, or to distribute free digital copies of the print formatted work. To a large extent, these adaptations remain within a librocentric form of knowledge distribution. Although independent of the material structures of the analog, they are still ideologically informed by the codex/manuscript format. This presentation will consider the ways in which a few critical scholarly texts have begun to break away from the librocentric framework, in some cases through composition, in some cases in presentation, and in some cases through opening up the work to future conversations and revisions. By looking at these texts, we can see a substantially different aesthetics and ethics of knowledge production developing: one in which the author is less the originator and owner of a set of ideas, and more the manager of a conversation, mixing ideas. The author function is surpassed by the DJ function, and, perhaps more importantly, the author’s role is less the creator of a material work and more that of a curator (or maybe even a janitor) of an immaterial, ever evolving one.