Digitize This Book! The Politics of New Media, or Why We Need Open Access Now Series (Electronic Mediations, Volume 24)
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In the sciences, the merits and ramifications of open access—the electronic publishing model that gives readers free, irrevocable, worldwide, and perpetual access to research—have been vigorously debated. Open access is now increasingly proposed as a valid means of both disseminating knowledge and career advancement. In Digitize This Book! Gary Hall presents a timely and ambitious polemic on the potential that open access publishing has to transform both "papercentric" humanities scholarship and the institution of the university itself. Hall, a pioneer in open access publishing in the humanities, explores the new possibilities that digital media have for creatively and productively blurring the boundaries that separate not just disciplinary fields but also authors from readers. Hall focuses specifically on how open access publishing and archiving can revitalize the field of cultural studies by making it easier to rethink academia and its institutions. At the same time, by unsettling the processes and categories of scholarship, open access raises broader questions about the role of the university as a whole, forcefully challenging both its established identity as an elite ivory tower and its more recent reinvention under the tenets of neoliberalism as knowledge factory and profit center. Rigorously interrogating the intellectual, political, and ethical implications of open access, Digitize This Book! is a radical call for democratizing access to knowledge and transforming the structures of academic and institutional authority and legitimacy.
eject, or exclude. Certainly, when it comes to questions of disciplinarity, institutionalization, and of archiving, it is still necessary to choose, to judge, and to make decisions; to elect, ﬁlter, and select what is to be contained in the archive and what is not; a certain exercise of power, and with it a certain injustice, thus takes place immediately when an archive is founded.24 In fact the responsibility of choosing or judging I am referring to is inescapable. This responsibility certainly
art,” so Benjamin insists, must henceforth be discussed with respect to its intrinsic “reproducibility.” And such reproducibility involves inscription: the tracing of traits: photography, cinematography and now, we might say, videography. (Weber 2000, n.p.) Yet viewing cognition in terms of a process of repetition and comparison with an earlier instance constituted as the selfsame is only one aspect of the acquisition of knowledge. Any act of intellection also has another dimension, one that,
seen with the example of Harnad) not be read as an attempt to “establish and to institutionalize” a “system of defense” (Weber 1987, 30); and thus as a response to its anxiety over the shift from ink-on-paper to digital publishing and, in particular, the fear that academic texts reproduced using IT may not be so easy to understand or judge? In other words, is this desire on the part of the institution a means of coping with, and establishing a measure of control over, a prospective crisis in
moreor-less homologous positions: technophilia or technophobia, optimism or pessimism, radicalism or conservativism, progressivism or corporatism, immanence or transcendence, production or consumption, professionalism or amateurism, theory or practice, utopia or dystopia, inside or outside, authentic or inauthentic, potlatch or the consumer economy, and so on. (Which, as I argue throughout this chapter, is indeed the dominant way in which the politics of digital media has been positioned to
Lovink—who openly admits to advocating a “‘radically modern’ ” approach to new media (which is opposed to, or, in his words, situated “beyond the melancholy of postmodernism”)—“all forms of technological determinism should be condemned. Technology is not inevitability; it is designed, it can be criticised, altered, undermined, mutated and, at times, ignored in order to subvert its limiting, totalitarian tendencies caused by either states or markets” (1997, 37). Technology is thus precisely a tool