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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  April 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING April 2008

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Subject:

Re: Exclusivity and Heresy

From:

Sean Cubitt <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Sean Cubitt <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 30 Apr 2008 13:19:37 +1000

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The debate won't settle because it hasn't an answer. I place some stuff
online, often things in draft form like conference presentations, and my
blog has first thoughts but also extracts from articles going into scholarly
journals

One additional issue, in Australia certainly, and in a good many other parts
of the english-speaking academy, is that the ISSN is currency; refereeeing
is essential; and prestige (the prestige of a journal) is hugely
significant. In Oz we are moving toward a metrics system, where journals
attract a grade (Nature is an A, etc), and the numerical value of your
research (and therefore the level of funding it attracts) is calculated by
multiplying the number of articles by the prestige factor of the journal.
Needless to say all the prestige journals are in corporate hands.

Our careers, our ability to attract research funds and scolarships for our
research students, the fiscal livelihood of our institutions, are bound into
the system of Elseviers and Sages.

I've worked on two journals which, before they went refereed, were among the
ost important in defining their fields, but which subsequenbtly, tho
perfectly good examples of scholarly journals, even excellent exampes, are
basically just scholarly journals. The system is counter-productive because
it militates against the project-driven journal where the greatest
innovation occurs - and I'd include Mute and Intelligent Agent in that
class. 

Let alone free publishing

Incidentally, the hierarchical sliding scale for humanities and social
sciences typically goes Books, refereed articles, chapters in books,
refereed conference papers. And that's about it: reviewing, catalog essays,
and in many regimes creative practice are unrecognised. [Book reviewing is
time consuming (you have to read the book!) and attracts noi brownie points.
But you can also in some regimes get points for the number (and quality) of
the reviews your book gets. There's something wrong there too. ]

Not particularly a defense, more an apology; but also a political analysis,
to the extent that the ostensibly moral decision about what, how and where
to publish actually articulates with the broader political economy not only
of the academy but also of the publishing industry. The tendency of these
practices is deeply normative. That to me is worse than making a possibly
immoral choice compulsory for career academics.

I too admire leonardo, and I work with the group because, exactly, it does
have a project, it does move beyond normativity, it does create new avenues
and connections. Working with a University Press (incidentally a threatened
species in the era of true corporate publishing - check out Colmbia
Journalism review's Who Owns What pages) means we can attract those authors
whose working conditions require a prestige imprint. It brings with it other
woes. 

But as partick suggests, that might be why god created the grey economy

Sean



On 30/04/08 12:47 PM, "Patrick Lichty" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Hello, everyone.
> 
> I've been listening to the discussion about exclusivity, and thought I'd chime
> in.  What I might have to say may even be heretical for those who are hungry
> for main-stage (or as some colleagues have put it, "Big Name" presses).
> 
> I think that some degree of respect is in order for groups like LEONARDO who
> have marvelous legacies and have honestly done fairly well by promoting art &
> tech.  I also understand the concern for exclusivity in "big press"
> publications as well, but I take a bit more of a Lessig-like approach.
> 
> Being that I am part of a team that (still) puts out a scholarly publication
> (albeit less frequently). I still stand behind Intelligent Agent's model of
> exclusivity for one month, then republish with a polite request to mention us
> in further publications.  I think it's a good way to share, while giving some
> precedent to the host institution.
> 
> Here comes the heresy.  Although I have published with MIT Press on a number
> of occasions, and many others, this is not to say that I may not web-publish
> the articles and chapters that I have published in print.  My rationale is
> that atoms are still desirable, and who really wants big binders full of
> PDF's?  In addition, most of my colleagues still copy chapters, etc.  There
> are endless rationalizations.
> 
> Bottom line is that I feel that if you want paper, you will buy paper
> regardless if it is online or not.  I love my library, and it's wonderfully
> easy to pop a book off the shelf.  Will a press suffer if I place my chapter
> online?  Academic presses are small enough that I think they will not suffer
> that badly, or even possibly have counterbalancing sales from greater
> awareness of the work.
> 
> But on the other hand, I also realize that a lot of effort goes into these
> books and publications, and although I may re-publish, I feel that it's also
> unfair to re-publish the material too soon after initial release.  In other
> words, give the publisher a little break, and then consider to do "what thou
> wilt", with a note of the initial publication.  In this way, the reader is
> given a little plug for the original publisher, and the material goes out in
> multiple channels.
> 
> I agree that strict exclusivity is anachronistic, as I feel that as long as
> there is a cross-mentioning, there is mutual benefit.  I love LEA, and all of
> the Leo publications - I think they do a great job.  However, I feel that a
> "gentlemanly" (another anachronism) dissemination of the information is also
> of little harm, as those who want the book or materials will want it,
> regardless.
> 
> Therefore, I hope that others might agree that publishign with exclusivity is
> perfectly fine, but reserve the right to put a copy on your website.  That is,
> if someone wants to read it, great, but also perhaps do not post it across all
> your blogs...

Prof Sean Cubitt
[log in to unmask]
Director, Media and Communications Program
Faculty of Arts
Room 127 John Medley East
The University of Melbourne
Parkville VIC 3010
Australia

Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
M: 0448 304 004
Skype: seancubitt
http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/media-communications/
http://homepage.mac.com/waikatoscreen/seanc/
http://seancubitt.blogspot.com/
http://del.icio.us/seancubitt

Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series
http://leonardo.info

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