Richard Miller and the Future of Publishing

Richard Miller starts his presentation with a statement about new media being the biggest communications revolution ever because it is now possible for anyone to publish globally, instantly. In a similar vein, the SF Chronicle ran a story today (“Award to amateur video shows industry change”) about a prestigious journalism award being awarded to an anonymously produced cell-phone video that recorded the recent death of a woman protesting in Iran.

Questions: What does this say about the evolving nature of publishers (of books, news, etc.)? Who are the arbiters of truth and quality?

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8 comments on “Richard Miller and the Future of Publishing

  1. Some things speak for themselves. For instance, a video of a live event, such as the death in Iran, can capture the moment, regardless of a citizen journalist’s lack of credentials. Other stories require journalistic ethics and these are decaying. I know many writers who have left journalism jobs because their departments have had mass layoffs due to web 2.0 citizen journalists. I think it is great to have everyone participate in a conversation about the day’s news, but I’m not sure I like what has happened to reporting standards.

  2. I, too, am concerned about maintaining standards. In her book “Writing New Media,” Wysocki the exigency for Composition instructors to teach what we know about “…texts and how situated people (learn how to) use them to make things happen” (5) precisely so that students learn to wield their publishing powers wisely.

  3. Miller makes it pretty clear that he believes “ideas don’t belong to us individually, but they belong to us as a culture and we as educators must be in the business of sharing ideas, freely.” This is a simple, but provocative idea because it goes against a capitalist ideology and all of our copyright laws! If ideas are free, then our ideas/ words/ art/ coding all belong in the public domain, so anyone can freely borrow, remix, re-envision. I think this inherently suggests that authority moves from publishers to the masses. From elite to popular. Peer-reviewed publications to those that are publicly-vetted. Students will definitely need the tools to assess these texts. I don’t think there’s anything new about that, but maybe new media texts make the need more apparent.

    • If the masses are going to have the authority, then the masses will need to be educated enough to think critically and compose meaningfully.

  4. Considering the role of authorship in this new “digital world” I am once again brought back to the idea of plagiarism. If thought and information are shared freely then who is held accountable? What happens to the actual author of a text? As the author are we no longer supposed to claim our work as our own but merely a product of the free thought of our peers? In the writing classroom how does this idea change the way we create academic essays, is there still a need for direct quotes, paraphrases, works cited? I want to know more about accountability!! If you post an anonymous video of a woman being murdered are you apart of the crime or merely a witness to it?

  5. Will anyone continue to cultivate the arts (of writing, photography, graphic design, etc) if others will use their words and images without seeking permission, paying, or even giving credit? Look at the sorry state of the music industry…

  6. Authorship, citation, and various other issues are all really interesting topics, as those of us who had 704 last semester found out. In the class, we talked about how plagiarism is actually pretty difficult to define, which you can see just by looking at various Universities’ plagiarism statements. And there are definite questions

    The fiction world has had to grapple with this recently, and isn’t this year’s CCCC about remixing? One way (that I think we also discussed in 704, but I’m not sure) to use the idea of citation would be for rhetorical purpose, teaching students that grounding your references in what other people have said can give something added weight, give you a more defensible position. But sometimes it’s hard to decide when you’re talking about a commonplace (say, “postmodernism”) and a specific concept that should be quoted (postmodernism as Frederic Jameson defines it). Maybe that’s a bad example, but it’s tough.

    On a more legalistic note, I don’t think we’ve mentioned this in class so far, but here’s an On the Media segment that discusses the possible ramifications of a settlement involving Google Books. The gist of it is that Google Books scans books under copyright and allows access to part of them for free, but you can pay to access the rest of it. The lawyer in the interview argues that this might lead to a sort of de facto quashing of fair use, allowing any quotations from anything under copyright to be the subject of potential legal action. This could potentially be good for original creators, but horrible for consumers and a precedential nightmare for fanfiction writers. It’s another wrinkle in this issue, another way to complicate the debate.

    And on a side note, The New York Times is going to start charging for access to its website, or at least some of its content, in 2011. (And yet another self-disclosure: despite how often I quote the Times in these posts, I really don’t read it all that much)

  7. Jaron Lanier’s new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” wants to put the emphasis back on the individual, and though I don’t agree with many of his ideas in his book, the fundamental concern for the individual and one’s unique identity is one that I, too, think is an important one we have to tackle in today’s digital age. The anonymously produced cell-phone video points to the problem of authorship which is closely tied to the issue of identity and the self. What happens to the self and one’s identity when we value the “hive mind” (Lanier) more than the individual?

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