Tag Archive for academic publishing

Call for Papers – Rhetoric and Computation

If you’re interested in algorithmic culture, etc., then you might want to consider submitting to this special issue of Computational Culture—an excellent, peer-reviewed open access journal.


Call for Papers: Special Issue of Computational Culture on Rhetoric and Computation

Rhetoric has historically been a discipline concerned with the ways that spoken and written language shape human activity. Similarly, emerging work in digital media studies (in areas such as software studies, critical code studies, and platform studies) seeks to describe the ways that computation shapes contemporary life. This special issue of Computational Culture on “Rhetoric and Computation” merges these two modes of inquiry to explore how together they can help us to understand ways that our communication and computational activities are now constituted by both human and computer languages.

Coupling the analysis of rhetoric with computation provokes a number of questions: How is the rhetorical force of computational objects different from or similar to that of language, sound, or image? What new modes of communication open up when we view computation as an expressive medium? How does computation shape or constrain rhetorical action? What new tropes, figures, and strategies emerge in computational environments? How do programmers deploy rhetoric at the level of code and interface? These questions are not exhaustive, and we welcome papers or computational projects that pursue these questions and others like them.
Topics or projects might include:

  • Computational artifacts (such as video games or art installations) designed to make procedural arguments and model systems or phenomena
  • Analysis of multiple choice tests processed by computers as rhetorical artifacts, aimed at both human (citizens, students) and nonhuman (machine) audiences.
  • How computational strategies such as surveillance supercede more traditional spheres of rhetorical deliberation such as written law
  • The ways in which computational data interpellate individuals and define citizenship
  • Strategies of the “quantified self” as a way of shaping human behaviour
  • Rhetorical analysis of computational systems used by governmental, educational, and political entities
  • How computational systems are described for different audiences from groups of expert programmers to the general public
  • The use of software algorithms to simulate and evaluate various activities, such as writing and conversation
  • Rhetorical strategies deployed by communities of programmers and designers in marginal comments, online forums or physical workplaces
  • Analysis of computational machines as rhetors (i.e., understanding the actions of such machines in terms of the tropes, figures, and strategies they deploy)

300 word abstracts are due November 25, 2013. Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editors. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by January 31, 2014 and invited to submit full manuscripts by April 1, 2014. These manuscripts are subject to outside peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published Fall 2014.

Please send abstracts and inquiries to Jim Brown and Annette Vee.
James J. Brown, Jr., Assistant Professor
Department of English and Program in Digital Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Annette Vee, Assistant Professor
Department of English, University of Pittsburgh

Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational objects, practices, processes and structures. http://www.computationalculture.net/

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Out from Under the Embargo

I’m delighted to report that my essay, “Performing Scholarly Communication,” is once again freely available on the open web.  The piece appeared in the January 2012 issue of the journal Text and Performance Quarterly but hasn’t much seen the light of day since then, subject to the publisher’s 18-month post-publication embargo.  You can now read and respond to the complete piece on my other website, The Differences & Repetitions Wiki, where I host a variety of open source writing projects.

By the way, if you’re interested in scholarly communication, the history of cultural studies, or both, then you might want to check out another piece appearing on D&RW: ”Working Papers in Cultural Studies, or, the Virtues of Gray Literature,” which I coauthored with Mark Hayward.  It’s set to appear in the next issue of the journal New Formations.  A version of the piece has existed on D&RW since March 2012, and in fact you can trace its development all the way through to today, when I posted the nicely-formatted, final version that Mark and I submitted for typesetting.  Always, comments are welcome and appreciated.  If you’d rather cut right to the chase, then you can download the uncorrected page proofs for the “WPCS” piece by clicking here.

Take some time to poke around D&RW, by the way.   There are a bunch of other papers and projects  there, some, but not all, having to do with the history and politics of scholarly communication.

Lastly, a note of thanks to all of you who tweeted, Facebooked, or otherwise spread the word about the final days of the free Late Age of Print download.  I truly appreciate all of your support.

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Late Age of Print – the Podcast

Welcome back and happy new year!  Okay—so 2013 is more than three weeks old at this point.  What can I say?  The semester started and I needed to hit the ground running.  In any case I’m pleased to be back and glad that you are, too.

My first post of the year is actually something of an old one, or at least it’s about new material that was produced about eighteen months ago.  Back in the summer of 2011 I keynoted the Association for Cultural Studies Summer Institute in Ghent, Belgium.  It was a blast—and not only because I got to talk about algorithmic culture and interact with a host of bright faculty and students.  I also recorded a podcast there with Janneke Adema, a Ph.D. student at Coventry University, UK whose work on the future of scholarly publishing is excellent and whose blog, Open Reflections, I recommend highly.

Janneke and I sat down in Ghent for the better part of an hour for a fairly wide-ranging conversation, much of it having to do with The Late Age of Print and my experiments in digital publishing.  It was real treat to revisit Late Age after a couple of years and to discuss some of the choices I made while I was writing it.  I’ve long thought the book was a tad quirky in its approach, and so the podcast gave me a wonderful opportunity to provide some missing explanation and backstory.  It was also great to have a chance to foreground some of the experimental digital publishing tools I’ve created, as I almost never put this aspect of my work on the same level as my written scholarship (though this is changing).

The resulting podcast, “The Late Age of Print and the Future of Cultural Studies,” is part of the journal Culture Machine’s podcast series.  Janneke and I discussed the following:

  • How have digital technologies affected my research and writing practices?
  • What advice would I, as a creator of digital scholarly tools, give to early career scholars seeking to undertake similar work?
  • Why do I experiment with modes of scholarly communication, or seek “to perform scholarly communication differently?”
  • How do I approach the history of books and reading, and how does my approach differ from more ethnographically oriented work?
  • How did I find the story amid the numerous topics I wrestle with in The Late Age of Print?

I hope you like the podcast.  Do feel welcome to share it on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever.  And speaking of social media, don’t forget—if you haven’t already, you can still download a Creative Commons-licensed PDF of The Late Age of Print.  It will only cost a tweet or a post on Facebook.  Yes, really.

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Cheaper Textbooks (So They Say)

I don’t often write about textbook publishing, but with the start of the new school year I thought it appropriate to say a few more words on the subject. I say more because I blogged about the changing student textbook market around this time last year, exploring how the rental market in particular had started to affect the ways college students acquire and think about their course texts.

Well, that was a year ago, and paper books are soooooo 2011. The big push this year (which, admittedly, has been building over the course of several years) is for electronic course texts or, in some cases, the bundling of electronic resources with traditional paper textbooks. I can’t stop hearing about the subject both on my own campus and in the periodicals I follow, including The Chronicle of Higher Education.

To wit: this week’s Chronicle included a story entitled “With ‘Access Codes,’ Textbook Pricing Gets More Complicated Than Ever.” (Apologies in advance: you’ll have to be a subscriber to read the full text.) It focuses on a business student at the University of Maine, Luke Thomas, who, last semester, needed to buy a (paper) textbook for his introductory English course. Expensive — but so far, so good. The complication occurred when Thomas discovered that the book, published by textbook giant Cenage, came bundled with a code he would need to access supplementary materials, which were only available online. He and his wife had been planning to use the course text together, effectively cutting the net cost of the overpriced book in half. But because each code was tied to one, and only one, student, they were unable to do so — that is, unless one of them was willing to forgo participation in the class’ online element and potentially jeopardize her or his grade. You can read Thomas’ great, muckraking blog post about the incident here.

I’m sure there are myriad instances of college students confronting these types of dilemmas right now, and not only the married ones. I remember friends during my undergraduate years (this was the early 1990s) routinely buying course texts that they’d then share for the semester. I’m pretty sure I did this once myself, in a Communication course my roommate and I had both enrolled in. But what I see, in the emerging age of e-publishing, is a deliberate attempt on the part of textbook publishers, suborned either by greedy or willfully ignorant faculty, to mitigate and even eliminate these types of arrangements.

What makes this situation all the more startling is the language that’s typically used to sell e-learning materials to professors and students. Over and over again we hear how e-texts are “cheaper” than their printed, paper counterparts and how supplementary online materials add real value to them. What the marketing departments won’t tell you is that that “cheaper” isn’t an absolute term and that value-added actually comes at a cost.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a student can buy a $50 e-version of a course text whose paper edition would cost $100 brand new. That’s a 50% savings, right? Well, not exactly. If two friends wanted to share the cost of the book together, that cost savings is already matched — bettered, actually, since there exists a robust used market for paper textbooks that would probably net the students at least a few dollars at the end of the term. (You generally can’t “sell back” an e-text, since you license rather than own the content.) As for the so-called value-added e-features, Thomas’ story makes abundantly clear how, in fact, this value isn’t added as much as paid for.

I don’t doubt that large textbook publishers like Cenage want to follow what they perceive to be industry and cultural (some might say generational) trends in making such an aggressive move into e-publishing. But it’s not only about that. It’s also about hammering away at the first-sale doctrine, which is the legal principle that allows the owner of copyrighted material to share it with or resell it to someone else without fear of legal reprisal. The move into e-publishing is also a way to effectively destroy the market for used textbooks, which, admittedly, has long been difficult to sustain given publishers’ efforts to issue “revised” editions of popular texts every few years.

Bottom line: if you believe in the free market, then you should be opposed many of these types of e-publishing initiatives. There’s no such thing as a free lunch — or even a cheap one, for that matter.

So with that, then, I want to bestow my first ever Late Age of Print Hero Award on Luke Thomas, for his courageous efforts to bring these important issues to public attention. Thank you, Luke.

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New Writing – Working Papers in Cultural Studies

If it wasn’t clear already, I needed a little break from blogging.  This past year has been an amazing one here on The Late Age of Print, with remarkable response to many of my posts — particularly those about my new research on algorithmic culture.  But with the school year wrapping up in early May, I decided I needed a little break; hence, the crickets around here.  I’m back now and will be blogging regularly throughout the summer, although maybe not quite as regularly as I would during the academic year.  Thanks for sticking around.

I suppose it’s not completely accurate to say the school year “wrapped up” for me in early May.  I went right from grading final papers to finishing an essay my friend and colleague Mark Hayward and I had been working on throughout the semester.  (This was also a major reason behind the falloff in my blogging.)  The piece is called “Working Papers in Cultural Studies, or, the Virtues of Gray Literature,” and we’ll be presenting a version of it at the upcoming Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference in Paris.

“Working Papers” is, essentially, a retelling of the origins of British cultural studies from a materialist perspective.  It’s conventional in that it focuses on one of the key institutions where the field first coalesced: the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which was founded at the University of Birmingham in 1964 under the leadership of Richard Hoggart.  It’s unconventional, however, in that the essay focuses less on the Centre’s key figures or on what they had to say in their work.  Instead it looks closely at the form of the Centre’s publications, many of which were produced in-house in a manner that was rough around the edges.

Mark and I were interested in how, physically, these materials seemed to embody an ethic of publication prevalent at the Centre, which stressed the provisionality of the research produced by faculty, students, and affiliates. The essay thus is an attempt to solve a riddle: how did the Centre manage to achieve almost mythical status, in spite of the fact that it wasn’t much in the business of producing definitive statements about the politics of contemporary culture?  Take for instance its most well known publication, Working Papers in Cultural Studies, whose very title indicates that every article appearing in the journal was on some level a draft.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will point you in the direction of the complete essay.  It’s hosted on my site for writing projects, The Differences & Repetitions Wiki (which I may well rename the Late Age of Print Wiki).  Mark and I have created an archive for “Working Papers in Cultural Studies, or, the Virtues of Gray Literature,” where you’ll find not only the latest version of the essay and earlier drafts but also a bunch of materials pertaining to their production.  We wanted to channel some of the lessons we learned from Birmingham, which led us to go public with the process of our work.  (This is in keeping with another essay I published recently, “The Visible College,” a version of which you can also find over on D&RW.)

Our “Working Papers” essay is currently in open beta, which means there’s at least another round of edits to go before we could say it’s release-ready.  That’s where you come in.  We’d welcome your comments on the piece, as we’re about to embark on what will probably be the penultimate revision.  Thank you in advance, and we hope you like what you see.

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Call for Papers – Platform Politics

I’ve taken some extended time off from blogging to finish up the semester and a writing project — both of which are now wrapped up.  Expect more regular content from me again, soon.  For now, here’s a call for papers from one of my favorite journals, Culture Machine.  The topic of the special issue is “platform politics,” which is very much in keeping with Tarleton Gillespie’s work on “The Politics of Platforms” and my own, ongoing writings on algorithmic culture.  It promises to be a timely and important issue, in other words.


CALL FOR PAPERS – “Platform Politics”

Special issue of Culture Machine, vol. 14; http://www.culturemachine.net

edited by Joss Hands (Anglia Ruskin University) Greg Elmer (Ryerson University) Ganaele Langlois (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

This special issue of the peer-reviewed, open access journal Culture Machine on the concept of ‘Platform Politics’ will explore how digital platforms can be understood, leveraged and contested in an age when the ‘platform’ is coming to supplant the open Web as the default digital environment.

Platforms can be characterized as resting on already existing networked communication systems, but also as developing discreet spaces and affordances, often using ‘apps’ to circumvent any need to access them via the Internet or Web. For this issue of Culture Machine we are seeking papers that explore the nature and distinctive aspects of the ‘platform’: as something that can be positioned as more than just a neutral space of communication; and as a complex technology with distinct affordances that have powerful political, economic and social interests at stake. In this respect the platform constitutes a zone of contestation between, for example, different formations and configurations of capital; social movements; new kinds of activist networks; open source and proprietary software design. Platforms also constitute spaces of struggle between mass movements and governments, users and the extractors of value, visibility and invisibility: witness the various debates over the role of ‘social media’ in the Arab Spring, anti-austerity, student and occupy movements. Such struggles entail a compelling intersection between technology and design, capital, multitude, the democratization of technology and ‘subversive rationalization’.

The platform represents not just a question of software and control, then; it also connects to wider social struggles in the sense that ‘platform’  can refer to a ‘political platform’, and can thus take on the agenda setting or framing role of political discourse more generally. Accordingly, this special issue will look to understand ‘platform politics’ as a broad social assemblage, complex or form of life. Linking particular platforms across the molecular and molar, it will think about platform politics as a distinct new context of power operating at the intersection of technological development, software design, cognitive/communicative capitalism, new forms of social movement and resistance, and the attempts to contain them by the exiting democracies. As such, platform politics requires a distinct mode of engagement, which this special issue of Culture Machine will endeavour to encourage and provide.

We invite contributions on topics such as:

  • Protocols as machinery of the platform – its common language, including ideas of control and/or the possibilities and limitations of open, non-proprietorial platforms.
  • The specific relationship between networks and platforms (including the discussion of whether the former are being subsumed by the latter), and distribution vs centralization/aggregation — not least in terms of user created content and content management systems (code politics of algorithms, and the use of APIs).
  • The question as to whether a process of enclosure is taking place via the struggle over the creation and expropriation of ‘network value’, or whether it entails a more parasitical engagement with, and enhancement of, the existing network architectures.
  • Visibility/invisibility: platforms as political spaces to be seen/heard, or indeed tactically escaped and eluded.
  • Resistance: how the above described issues relate to the potential for cultural, political, social and economic praxis, which in turns opens up a space from which to address recent global events. (See, for example, RIMs (Blackberry Messaging’s) enclosure, which ironically creates spaces of resistance as well as disturbance and securitization.)
  • New software possibilities: for example, Drupal’s opening up and democratization of content management, which perhaps creates a kind of ‘platform commons’? The potential of ‘Diaspora’, the open source social network, to offer a viable alternative to proprietary social media.
  • The role of intrinsic network tendencies, as opposed to political and economic decision-making, taking in explorations of the relevance of graph theory, the role of power laws and the network-specific characteristics of ‘communication power’.

Deadline for submissions of complete articles: 1st November 2012

Please submit your contributions including contact details by email to Joss Hands:
< joss.hands@networkpolitics.org>

Culture Machine’s Guidelines for Authors:
http://www.culturemachine.net/index.php/cm/about/submissions#authorGuidelines

All contributions will be peer-reviewed.

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Established in 1999, CULTURE MACHINE (http://www.culturemachine.net) is a fully refereed, open-access journal of cultural studies and cultural theory. It has published work by established figures such as Mark Amerika, Alain Badiou, Simon Critchley, Jacques Derrida, N. Katherine Hayles, Ernesto Laclau, J. Hillis Miller, Bernard Stiegler, Cathryn Vasseleu and Samuel Weber, but it is also open to publications by up-and-coming writers, from a variety of geopolitical locations.

!!! New 2012 issue on attention economy coming out soon!!!
****************************************************

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Performing Scholarly Communication

A short piece I wrote for the journal Text and Performance Quarterly (TPQ) has just been published.  It’s called “Performing Scholarly Communication,” and it’s included in a special section on “The Performative Possibilities of New Media” edited by the wonderful Desireé Rowe and Benjamin Myers.  The section includes contributions by Michael LeVan and Marcyrose Chvasta, Jonathan M. Gray, and Craig-Gingrich Philbrook, along with an introduction by and a formal contribution from Desireé and Ben.  You can peruse the complete contents here.

My essay is a companion to another short piece I published (and blogged about) last year called “The Visible College.”  “The Visible College” focuses on how journal publications hide much of the labor that goes into their production.  It then goes on to make a case for how we might re-engineer academic serials to better account for that work.  “Performing Scholarly Communication” reflects on one specific publishing experiment I’ve run over on my project site, The Differences and Repetitions Wiki, in which I basically opened the door for anyone to co-write an essay with me.  Both pieces also talk about the history of scholarly journal publishing at some length, mostly in an effort to think through where our present-day journal publishing practices, or performances, come from.  One issue I keep coming back to here is scarcity, or rather how scholars, journal editors, and publishers operate today as if the material relations of journal production typical of the 18th and 19th centuries still straightforwardly applied.

I’ve mentioned before that Desireé and Ben host a wonderful weekly podcast called the The Critical LedeLast week’s show focused on the TPQ forum and gathered together all of the contributors to discuss it.  I draw attention to this not only because I really admire Desireé and Ben’s podcast but also because it fulfills an important scholarly function as well.  You may not know this, but the publisher of TPQ, Taylor & Francis, routinely “embargoes” work published in this and many other of its journals.  The embargo stipulates that authors are barred from making any version of their work available on a public website for 18 months from the date of publication.  I’d be less concerned about this stipulation if more libraries and institutions had access to TPQ and journals like it, but alas, they do not.  In other words, if you cannot access TPQ, at least you can get a flavor of the research published in the forum by listening to me and my fellow contributors dish about it over on The Critical Lede.

I should add that the Taylor & Francis publication embargo hit close to home for me.  Almost a year and a half ago I posted a draft of “Performing Scholarly Communication” to The Differences and Repetitions Wiki and invited people to comment on it.  The response was amazing, and the work improved significantly as a result of the feedback I received there.  The problem is, I had to “disappear” the draft or pre-print version once my piece was accepted for publication in TPQ.  You can still read the commentary, which T&F does not own, but that’s almost like reading marginalia absent the text to which the notes refer!

Here’s the good news, though: if you’d like a copy of “Performing Scholarly Communication” for professional purposes, you can email me to request a free PDF copy.  And with that let me say that I do indeed appreciate how Taylor & Francis does support this type of limited distribution of one’s work, even as I wish the company would do much better in terms of supporting open access to scholarly research.

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Academic Publishing Roundup — Communication Edition

Wow! I’m happy to report that my home discipline, communication, is finally making some strides in terms of bringing its book and journal publishing policies into the 21st century.

Last week, the International Communication Association (ICA), in Conjunction with American University’s Center for Social Media, released its Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies devised a similar statement of best practices way back in 1993 (it updated the document in 2009), so needless to say I’m pleased to see ICA catching up at long last.

These types of policy statements are vitally important for media and communication scholars, and indeed for scholars more generally. As more and more of our work engages words, sounds, images, and other artifacts drawn from the popular media, we need to be reasonably assured that we can criticize and, where necessary, reproduce content protected by copyright, trademark, and other forms of intellectual property law. That’s exactly what these best practices statements do, in part by identifying a “community of practice” and carefully defining its — in this case, scholarly — customs. But it’s not only about “show and tell.” Reproducing copyrighted content in academic work is important to the scholarly process. How else would reviewers, other scholars, and anyone else who may happen to read our work assess the validity of our claims?

Academics routinely — and often unnecessarily, I might add — self-censor our work, for instance by opting to exclude images we’re analyzing for fear we’ll get sued by some deep-pocketed media giant. Heck, I’ve even done it myself. And that’s why I’m such a champion of these best practices statements. They may not give us carte blanche to use intellectual properties in our work however we may see fit. They do give us a useful set of guidelines for making informed judgments about how best to proceed in these matters, though, plus they underscore how our own practices are in solidarity with others.

The other bit of good news is that Boston College’s Charles (Chuck) E. Morris III has drafted a resolution calling on the National Communication Association (NCA) to revise its fees for licensing NCA-copyrighted material. In a preamble to the document, Chuck writes:

The resolution seeks to regulate the prohibitively expense copyright fees charged by Taylor & Francis [publisher of NCA journals] in conjunction with NCA. Particularly alarming is that while for more than a decade NCA Executive Directors, who contractually have the prerogative to waive or reduce fees, intervened to make reprinted NCA journal materials affordable for high quality anthologies/readers of pedagogical and scholarly value, the current NCA Executive Director, Nancy Kidd, has prioritized profit and is allowing a dramatically higher fee.

Basically, NCA jacked up its reprint fees about a year ago, a move that will price smaller presses out of the business of republishing top-quality communication research. The change not only promises to whittle down the competition (leaving only behemoths like Taylor & Francis, Wiley-Blackwell, and Sage standing), but it’s also inimical to the larger cause of scholarly communication. When Chuck writes that NCA is putting profits ahead of publishing, he’s exactly right.

If you’re an NCA member, you have until Tuesday, June 29th the add your name to the document. You can do so by contacting Chuck via email: morrisch@bc.edu. And hey — if you’re not an NCA member but you believe in the spirit of the resolution, why not go ahead drop Chuck a line anyway? I don’t know if he can add your name to the formal list of signatories, but it can’t hurt for him to be able to attest to support coming from beyond NCA.

Now, if only we could get NCA to adopt a best practices for fair use statement of its own. It’s an embarrassment, frankly, for the oldest and largest professional association for communication scholars in the United States to lag so far behind its peers.

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