Wrapping up our Digital Publishing Blog Carnival


Image courtesy of Flickr user josusache

When we circulated the CFP for our 10th blog carnival back in September, we asked scholars to consider digital publishing by looking both backward and forward: to consider how authorship, processes, and tools have changed, to assess present challenges, and imagine how digital publishing might look to future publics depending on how the field responded to these challenges. The responses to our call took us as far back as 2003 and had us look forward to emerging new spaces, such as MSU’s Digital Publishing Lab. In addition to a temporal approach, our contributors also:

  • accounted for the increasingly complex writing processes of publics. As many of our contributors explain, the tools and spaces for digital publishing challenge the traditional ways we conceive of authorship; that is, public writing is more than writing and rewriting, but includes knowledge of code and design, web-based marketing techniques, and viral circulation.
  • shared important institutional knowledge. Based on their years of experience running CCDP and Parlor, readers got an inside peak into the multiple challenges and affordances of publishing digital scholarship in a changing academy.
  • argued for DIY publishing as a legitimate means for academic authorship. Spaces such as Twitter, are an important part of the changes we’re witnessing to the ways individuals work across platforms; moreover, algorithmic processes like search engine optimization (SEO), and non-institutional sponsors, like independent presses, are also increasingly viable in the 21st century.

We have included summaries of each blog post below and would like to thank all of our contributors for their thoughtful work towards exploring the past, present, and future of digital publishing. Collaborative meaning-making efforts like this tenth blog carnival are what make the DRC so important and useful for our discipline of digital rhetoric.

Jacob Craig’s “The Role of Device in Meaning Making” explores how current efforts at displaying texts across different devices (of different sizes and purposes–such as smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and laptops) and the practical considerations involved in those efforts impact the meanings readers construct from digital texts. Craig argues that publishers for device purposes seek to maximize “the semiotic potential of the interface.”

In “Authorships, Infrastructures, and the Digital Publishing Lab” Phil Bratta, Malea Powell, and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss make the cultural labor of digital publishing more visible by exploring the infrastructures that have influenced authorship in the past, and press upon it in the present. Ultimately they articulate a vision for new publishing spaces, like the MSU Digital Publishing Lab (DPL), that support a more inclusive, interdisciplinary model for scholarly publishing that bridges conversations in both cultural and digital rhetorics.

Cynthia L. Selfe, Gail E. Hawisher, Patrick W. Berry, Timothy Lockridge, and Melanie Yergeau from Computers and Composition Digital Press (CCDP), contributed “CCDP as a Case Study for Digital Publishing Efforts,” a deeply insightful set of six challenges in their digital publishing efforts. The six challenges are (1) Defining the Mission and Niche of Computers and Composition Digital Press, (2) Seeking Legitimacy, (3) Establishing a Sustainable Gift Economy, (4) Seeking Excellence: Recruiting Authors and Establishing a Collaborative Collective, (5) Working Toward Accessibility, and (6) Sustainability, Labor, and Preservation Efforts. The explanations of these challenges provide rich inspiration for anyone interested in engaging with the future of digital publishing.

Mark W. Shealy’s “Professional Digital Marketing for Academic Self-publishing? Strategies, Tactics, and Questions” explores what’s possible when academics self-publish using professional digital marketing tactics, such as search engine optimization. Though such an approach might engender an entrepreneurial rather than scholarly ethos, Shealy considers these tactics through a de Certeau-ian notion, which frames traditional consumers of scholarly publications as users who creatively engage the knowledge they learn in important ways.

In “The Wrench in the Gears: How Independent Academic Presses Can Disrupt the Publishing Model,” Brain Gaines chats with Parlor Press founder David Blakesley about the origins and future of independent scholarly publishing. Throughout their conversation, Brian and David tackle larger trends in digital publishing including DIY cultural production, economic shifts in the publishing industry since the press was founded in 2002, and the multiple roles played by independent publishers, including editor, technician, accountant, and marketer.

Katherine Rockefeller’s “Twitter, @SoSadToday, and the Future of Digital Publishing” explores Melissa Broder’s previously anonymous Twitter account and how its popularity, uniqueness, and once-anonymity calls us to think about the ways social media and Twitter specifically impact the world of digital publishing and even perhaps are digital publishing, in a more accessible, interactive manner.

Cristen Fitzpatrick contributed “Digital Texts and the Humanities: Innovative Collaboration and Publishing,” which explores new turns in humanities scholarship and publishing on digital platforms that allow readers to comment on the text itself. Looking at affordances of these digital publishing platforms and how they came to be, Fitzpatrick’s contribution goes a long way for helping anyway gain an understanding of how we got here and where we are going.

In “The Future of Digital Publishing, Circa 2003” David Blakesley takes us back to the future in a clever, dynamic piece that gives us a sampling of how the field was thinking about digital publishing 13 years earlier at a Computers and Writing Conference Workshop, as participants and facilitators worked together to make an e-book in a little over four hours using Bob Stein’s TK3 technology (a precursor to iBooks). The book, titled Digital Publishing F5 | Refreshed, was published by Blakesley’s Parlor Press and Blakesley reports on some of the predictions that participants made about the future of publishing as a result of their experience in the workshop.

About Author

Jason Luther

Jason Luther is Assistant Professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University. His work focuses on zines, self-publishing histories, DIY culture, and multimodal (counter)publics.

David Coad

David T. Coad is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. His research interests include social media, digital literacies, and qualitative methods.

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