Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project

Listening to Chris Anderson's Free: The Future of a Radical Price on a long car trip got me thinking: why not make an audiobook out of my own book, The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control? And why not, like Anderson, give the digital recording away for free? The thought had barely crossed my mind when reality started to sink in. "You're no Chris Anderson," I told myself. "You don't have the time or the resources to make an audiobook out of Late Age. Just forget about it."

Well, I didn't forget about it. I figured if I couldn't make an audiobook myself, then I'd do the next best thing: let the computer do it for me, using a text-to-speech (T-T-S) synthesizer. The more I thought about the project, the more convinced I became that it was a good idea. It wouldn't just be cool to be able to listen to Late Age on an iPod; an audio edition would finally make the book accessible to vision impaired people, too.

And so I got down to work. I extracted all of the text from the free, Creative Commons-licensed PDF of Late Age and proceeded to text-to-speech-ify it, one chapter at a time. I played back my first recording -- the Introduction -- but it was disaster! The raw text had all sorts of remnants from the original book layout (footnotes, page headers/numbers, words hyphenated due to line breaks, and whole lot more). They seriously messed up the recording, and so I knew they needed to go. I began combing through the text, only to discover that the cleanup would take me, working alone, many more hours than I could spare, especially with a newborn baby in my life. Frustrated, I nearly abandoned the project for a second time.

Then it dawned on me: if I'm planning on giving away the audiobook for free, then why not get people who might be interested in hearing Late Age in on it, too? Thus was born the Late Age of Print wiki, the host site for The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project. The plan is for all of us, using the wiki, to create a Creative Commons-licensed text-to-speech version of the book, which will be available for free online.

There's a good deal of work for us to do, but don't be daunted! If you choose to donate a large chunk of your time to help out the cause, then that's just super. But don't forget that projects like this one also succeed when a large number of people invest tiny amounts of their time as well. Your five or ten minutes of editing, combined with the work of scores of other collaborators, will yield a top-notch product in the end. I've posted some guidelines on the wiki site to help get you started.

I doubt that I have a large enough network of my own to pull off this project, so if your blog, Tweet, contribute to listservs, or otherwise maintain a presence online, please, please, please spread the word!

Thank you in advance for your contributions, whatever they may be. In the meantime, if you have any questions about The Late Age of Print open source audiobook project, don't hesitate to email me. I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 05, 2010

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 my other blog, The Late Age of Print. If you find it, then you'll get to learn the news a full day before rest of the world.

Happy hunting!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Big announcement coming soon!

Something BIG is brewing over at my other blog, The Late Age of Print! I've finally managed to secure all of the necessary okays to go public with the news, which I'll be posting both here and over at Late Age on TUESDAY, APRIL 6th. Be sure to check back then...