The Print-Academic Complex and the New Regime

Striphas. The Late Age of Print.

Striphas. “The Late Age of Print” (2011). click to get free copy

Yesterday I wrote a post “From Monograph to Multigraph: the Distributed Book,” discussing ideas for more networked, disaggregated modes of scholarly book creation and use. Thank you, but it has already been signed to Univ. Chicago Press as a e-single through BiblioVault for 2014, and is no longer online.  But I jest. Toootally available. 

In today’s incursion, I’d like to follow up with some reflections on three current projects that push boundaries of humanities monograph practice, both in their content and their publishing methods:

  1. Multigraph, at McGill University, 2012-14
  2. Digital_Humanities, from MIT Press, 2012
  3. Debates in the Digital Humanities, Univ. Minnesota Press / online edition, 2013

Together these examples show a field of contesting avant-gardes and notions of what a book is or should be;  a complex mixture of revolutionary boldness, establishment sophistication and recuperation; and continuing deep attachment to the authority of print publishing.

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From Monograph to Multigraph: the Distributed Book


from Multigraph project, McGill University (at

I’ve been thinking a lot about nanopublications recently. This is a concept primarily discussed in scientific scholarly communication. explains:

A nanopublication is the smallest unit of publishable information: an assertion about anything that can be uniquely identified and attributed to its author.

With nanopublications, it is possible to disseminate individual data as independent publications with or without an accompanying research article.

Nanopublications can be…machine readable…opening the door to universal interoperability…data to be analyzed for the discovery of new associations that would otherwise be beyond the capacity of human reasoning.

The nanopublishing idea builds on earlier concepts such as microformats, a way to mark elements within pages (or other content) for machine-readability and reusability:  for example, contact information, geographic coordinates, calendar events, or citation data.

T. H. Nelson's "Literary Machines," a key work in hypertext theory

T. H. Nelson’s “Literary Machines,” a key work in hypertext theory

You might say microformats and nanopublication are simply ways to generalize or extend the “page” model which the World Wide Web and HTML made so remarkably ubiquitous. They point out that it may often be useful to address, describe, and use separate elements within the customary unit of the page or document. More generally, the long tradition of hypertext theory and systems is all about making content more atomicized and networked.

With “nanopublishing,” I’ve been thinking not so much about science and logic/data elements, but about disaggregating books or articles in trade and Humanities/Social Science (HSS) publishing. That is to say, thinking about various ways to pull apart, reassemble books, or their production and use:

  • distributing or gathering content fragments while writing (tweet-writing?)
  • writing as link assemblage, or curation of elements which also exist independently.
  • allowing larger units such as monographs (books) to be used, distributed, commented on, linked down to atomic levels.

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Smart Parking, and Public vs Professional Academia

reflections on academics in public, “public sociology” vs. professional sociology, and Jack Mill’s “Three Differences Between an Academic and an Intellectual.

I. Background
II.  The Cyborgology post and I
III. on Public vs. Professional Sociology, & Intellectual vs. Academic

I. Background:

Parker smartphone app

Parker smartphone app

The New York Times ran a story on Dec 22, “The Learning Curve of Smart Parking” by SJSU professor & writer Randall Stross. It describes new systems to detect and communicate parking-space availability to individuals and authorities, and potentially dynamically alter pricing or monitor payment compliance.

Sociology PhD student Nathan Jurgenson wrote a post in reply, “‘Smart Parking’ and the Robert Moses Mistake,” on a blog he co-edits, Cyborgology, which is part of The Society Pages, a public social-sciences project headquartered in the Sociology department at the University of Minnesota.
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