Saturday, March 08, 2008

Collaborative Authorship and Networked Archives

The image of the author is not a stranger to us. But at the same time asking someone what is an author can bring replies ranging from personal names (“Stephen King is an author”) to a description of what an author does. In the domains of digital media an author is not what it used to be. In shared media forms such as blogging, vlogging, webzines, wiki-ing, internet radio (and television), podcasting and digital storytelling we find examples of the “increased diversity of these participatory practices, or for the increased technological interrelatedness often referred to as technological convergence.” (Carpentier and De Cleen 8). The boundaries between what is an author and what is a reader/consumer are blurred and often non-existent. At the same time boundaries between media forms are also collapsing as new forms of representation find us reading ‘books’ that are actually 3 dimensional images of books reproduced electronically. A ‘page’ can have a radio station embedded into it and the source code for the entire arrangement is easily copied and pasted into a new document to be uploaded to another URL as a mirror site. Due to the complexities of new media creation I prefer to equate Author with authority and the authority over a text can be passed on to or shared with the next person for content creation or revision if the architecture of the work allows it. The shared responsibility for the text and the simultaneous creation-distribution-storage of the work is what I call collaborative authorship and networked archive.
The best way at the moment to assure a text can be passed on for growth and value creation is by using open source and creative commons style licensing.

The Open Source Canon
But at some point, if you keep inviting people into your world, you have to give them a stake in it. When consumers stop consuming and start creating, the energy and ideas they feed into these worlds have to change it. All geeks get the concept of "the canon," which defines the history and rules of a fictional world. But to take advantage of the new media landscape, we have to start talking about open source canons. The fans who bring the best ideas, the most energy and the sharpest sense of where the world should go will win the ears of the producers back in Hollywood.

Authorship in the Digital Age a talk by Howard Rodman

Let me throw out a bunch of questions:
•The person who takes pen in hand and writes an essay, is that the author? Well, yes.
•A medieval monk who copies a manuscript, is he the author? He’s the one wielding the instrument; he’s the one leaving the mark– But is he the author? Most of us instinctively would say, no. Because authorship involves more than the reproduction of a work—it seems to involve the creation of a work.
Each technological change brings about a new confusion of the concept of authorship.
Now, in the digital age, authorship is more and more diffuse. More fugitive. More difficult to locate.
Let me throw out some examples.

Building the Cathedral: Collaborative Authorship and the Internet
The World Wide Web is, quite possibly, the most collaborative multi-cultural project in the history of mankind. Millions of people have contributed personal homepages, blogs, and other sites to the growing body of human expression available online. It is, one could say, the secular equivalent of the medieval cathedral, designed by a professional, but constructed by non-professionals, regular folk who are eager to participate in the construction of a legacy. Such is the context for projects like Wikimedia and the Semantic Web, designed by elite programmers, built by the masses.

Japanese Mobile Phone Novels
TOKYO — Until recently, cellphone novels — composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and read by fans on their tiny screens — had been dismissed in Japan as a subgenre unworthy of the country that gave the world its first novel, “The Tale of Genji,” a millennium ago. Then last month, the year-end best-seller tally showed that cellphone novels, republished in book form, have not only infiltrated the mainstream but have come to dominate it.

GOOD COPY BAD COPY - a documentary about the current state of copyright and culture

Is the Web Good for Writing?
Now the web — and its democratizing impact — has spread for over a decade. Over a billion people can deliver their text to a very broad public. It's a fantastic thing which gives a global voice to dissidents in various regions, makes people less lonely by connecting other people with similar interests and problems, ad infinitum.
But what does it mean for writers and writing? What does it mean for those who specialize in writing well?

Metavid:Democratizing the Archive

Metavid shows how contemporary archives impede democratic access to the production of meaning around context specific online [re]presentations of elected Representatives. Contemporary archives act as gatekeepers to meaning production by; implementing costly permission based access to public media assets; promoting the production of static, opaque consumable mediations; and engaging in proprietary encapsulation for self-preservation. These problems are traced to the application of restrictive broadcast production metaphors to the internet, where less restrictive forms of participation are possible. The conditions of contemporary archives are generalized as a consequence of operating in a culture of consumption; a culture where meaning is produced to be consumed. We present an alternative to the consumer based broadcast model in the online context by making source documents freely available for reuse, alternative modes of archival engagement are possible.

Online Archives

Web 2.0 story telling


Podcasting: A Teaching with Technology White Paper

Abstract: Sharing audio and video files on the Web has been possible for most of the last decade. Why, then, in the past two years has podcasting exploded onto the scene and become such a hot topic in educational technology? How does this new technology and its widespread adoption create new opportunities in education? Is it just a passing trend, or is there genuine potential to improve the quality of the educational experience and learning outcomes? This paper attempts to answer these questions through the exploration of educational podcasting in three realms: the creation and distribution of lecture archives for review, the delivery of supplemental educational materials and content, and assignments requiring students to produce and submit their own podcasts.

Getting Students to Use their Mobile Phones as Learning Tools


Nick Carpentier and Benjamin De Cleen. "Participation and Media Production: Critical reflections on Content Creation". Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publication, 2008.

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