Archive for Hype

Scholarly Journal Publishing

My latest essay, “Acknowledged Goods: Cultural Studies and the Politics of Academic Journal Publishing,” is now out in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 7(1) (March 2010), pp. 3-25.  In my opinion, it’s probably the single most important journal essay I’ve published to date.  Here’s the abstract:

This essay explores the changing context of academic journal publishing and cultural studies’ envelopment within it. It does so by exploring five major trends affecting scholarly communication today: alienation, proliferation, consolidation, pricing, and digitization. More specifically, it investigates how recent changes in the political economy of academic journal publishing have impinged on cultural studies’ capacity to transmit the knowledge it produces, thereby dampening the field’s political potential. It also reflects on how cultural studies’ alienation from the conditions of its production has resulted in the field’s growing involvement with interests that are at odds with its political proclivities.

Keywords: Cultural Studies; Journal Publishing; Copyright; Open Access; Scholarly Communication

I’m fortunate to have already had the published essay reviewed by Ben Myers and Desiree Rowe, who podcast over at The Critical Lede. You can listen to their thoughtful commentary on “Acknowledged Goods” by clicking here — and be sure to check out their other podcasts while you’re at it!

Since I’m on the topic of the politics of academic knowledge, I’d be remiss not to mention Siva Vaidhyanathan’s amazing piece from the 2009 NEA Almanac of Higher Education, which recently came to my attention courtesy of Michael Zimmer.  It’s called “The Googlization of Universities.”  I found Siva’s s discussion of bibliometrics — the measurement of bibliographic citations and journal impact — to be particularly intriguing.  I wasn’t aware that Google’s PageRank system essentially took its cue from that particular corner of the mathematical universe.  The piece also got me thinking more about the idea of “algorithmic culture,” which I’ve blogged about here from time to time and that I hope to expand upon in an essay.

Please shoot me an email if you’d like a copy of “Acknowledged Goods.”  Of course, I’d be welcome any feedback you may have about the piece, either here or elsewhere.


Easter Egg Hunt

It still may be one more day until THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, but what would Easter be (even if a day late) without an Easter egg? I’ve placed one somewhere on this blog.  If you find it, then you’ll get to learn the news a full day before rest of the world.

Happy hunting!


Bound for Philly

This one’s for all of my readers in the Northeast, especially those in and around the Philadelphia area.  I’ll be delivering a public lecture at Swarthmore College on Thursday, March 25th at 4:00 p.m.  The location is the Scheuer Room in Kohlberg Hall.  The event, which is part of the College’s Cooper Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.  Please come if you can.

The title of my presentation is “Amazon Kindle and the Right to Read: Privacy and Property in the Late Age of Print.”  Here’s an abstract for the talk, which is more up-to-date than the version you’ll find on the Swarthmore website:

This presentation focuses on the Amazon Kindle e-reader’s two-way communications capabilities on the one hand, and on its parent company’s recent forays into data services on the other.  I argue that however convenient a means Kindle may be for acquiring e-books and other types of digital content, the device nevertheless disposes reading to serve a host of inconvenient—indeed, illiberal—ends.  Consequently, the technology underscores the growing importance of a new and fundamental right to counterbalance the illiberal tendencies that it embodies—a “right to read,” which would complement the existing right of free expression.

The presentation is an opening gambit of sorts for a new book project I’m working on, called The Right to Read.

Anyway,  I’d be delighted to see you at Swarthmore on Thursday.  Please introduce yourself to me if you come.  And if you bring your copy of The Late Age of Print, I’d be happy to autograph it for you.



I’ve been fortunate to have received some really excellent reviews of The Late Age of Print in its first year of publication.  Maybe even more exciting than all of this positive response has been the book’s inclusion on several top-ten of 2009 lists.  A couple of weeks ago Michael Lieberman over at Book Patrol (hosted on The Seattle Post-Intelligencer) included Late Age in his top-ten “books about books” of the year.  Last week Chapman/Chapman’s Ryan Chapman featured the book in his “Best Books of 2009” post, calling it a “foundational text.”  And just yesterday Conversational Reading’s Scott Esposito gave the book a big shout by adding it to his “Favorite Reads of the Year” list.

So, with the end of 2009 almost in sight, I want to thank Michael, Ryan, Scott, and all of those who’ve supported the book this year, as well all of you readers out there who’ve been taking in, Tweeting about, and commenting on this blog.  I also want to acknowledge the hard work of José Afonso Furtado, a tremendous supporter of The Late Age of Print in all its forms, whose Twitter feed I piggy-back on.  Finally, I owe a heartfelt thanks to all the great folks at Columbia University Press and particularly my editor, Philip Leventhal, about whom I cannot say enough good things.

I realize that this post probably sounds as though I’m signing off for the year.  Don’t worry, I’m not.  I’ll be back again in 2009 with more dispatches from the late age of print.


Late Age of Print — the Video

After a series of delays (I hear this is how things go in Hollywood), I’m pleased to debut The Late Age of Print video at long last.  It’s no “Thriller,” admittedly, but hopefully you’ll get a kick out of it anyway.

Here’s a little back-story for those of you who may be interested.  Last fall my editor at Columbia informed me that the Press had begun promoting some of its books using short videos.  He then asked me if I’d be interested in shooting one for Late Age. Since I’m not someone who believes that electronic media are out to kill books — I’m quite confident in their ability to help books out, in fact — I decided I’d say yes.

I was a little daunted by the prospect of shooting the video, mostly because I’m a methodological writer who’s unaccustomed to speaking in sound bites.  I reflected on this a bit last December over on my other blog, Differences & Repetitions. In hindsight, that should have been the least of my worries.

In chapter 2 of Late Age I touch on how the campus bookstore at Indiana University (where I teach) was designed by Ken White, the architect who went on to create the big-box bookstore template.  What better location for the video shoot, I thought, than at ground-zero of the big-box bookstore phenomenon? 

Unfortunately, IU decided in 2007 that it would be a good idea to outsource campus bookstore operations to Barnes & Noble — about whom I write rather approvingly in Late Age. The long and the short of it is that Barnes & Noble denied my requests to shoot the video there.

I still find it difficult to fathom how a private sector company would — or even could — refuse the use of public property for a purpose such as this.  In any case, I’m sure I could have complained to the University, but by then so much time had elapsed that I just needed to get on with the shoot.

I settled on the IU Lilly Library, which houses rare books and manuscripts.  It’s a truly lovely location, though I fear that it may inadvertantly up the “book fetishist” quotient that I try so hard to mitigate in Late Age. The videographer also had me harp on the “books aren’t going away anytime soon” theme, which, though appropriate, doesn’t quite get at the substance of the book, which focuses on e-books, book superstores, online bookselling,, and Harry Potter.

Anyway, despite all the drama I’m still pretty pleased with the result.  I hope you like it, too.  Please share it, rate it, and comment on it.  I’d love to hear what you think!

Now that I’ve entered the video age, would it be asking too much for Colbert to call?