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Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy

Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Planned Obsolescence
    Book Description:

    Academic institutions are facing a crisis in scholarly publishing at multiple levels: presses are stressed as never before, library budgets are squeezed, faculty are having difficulty publishing their work, and promotion and tenure committees are facing a range of new ways of working without a clear sense of how to understand and evaluate them. Planned Obsolescence is both a provocation to think more broadly about the academy's future and an argument for reconceiving that future in more communally-oriented ways. Facing these issues head-on, Kathleen Fitzpatrick focuses on the technological changes - especially greater utilization of internet publication technologies, including digital archives, social networking tools, and multimedia - necessary to allow academic publishing to thrive into the future. But she goes further, insisting that the key issues that must be addressed are social and institutional in origin. Springing from original research as well as Fitzpatrick's own hands-on experiments in new modes of scholarly communication through MediaCommons, the digital scholarly network she co-founded, Planned Obsolescence explores these aspects of scholarly work, as well as issues surrounding the preservation of digital scholarship and the place of publishing within the structure of the contemporary university. Written in an approachable style designed to bring administrators and scholars into a conversation, Planned Obsolescence explores both symptom and cure to ensure that scholarly communication will remain relevant in the digital future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2896-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Obsolescence
    (pp. 1-14)

    The text you are now reading, whether on a screen in draft form or in its final, printed version, began its gestation some years ago in a series of explorations into the notion of obsolescence, which culminated in my being asked to address the term as part of the workshop “Keywords for a Digital Profession,” organized by the Committee on the Status of Graduate Students at the December 2007 Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Chicago. However jaded and dispiriting the grad students’ choice of “obsolescence” as a keyword describing their own futures might appear, the decision to assign me...

  5. 1 Peer Review
    (pp. 15-49)

    For the past few years, I have worked with the Institute for the Future of the Book, my colleague Avi Santo, and a range of prominent scholars in media studies on MediaCommons, an all-electronic scholarly publishing network. During the planning phases of the project, we blogged, held meetings, and tested some small-scale implementations of the network’s technologies—and in all of the feedback that we received, in all of the conversations we had with scholars both senior and junior, one question repeatedly resurfaced: What are you going to do about peer review?

    I’ve suggested elsewhere (Fitzpatrick 2007a) that peer review...

  6. 2 Authorship
    (pp. 50-88)

    The transformation in our thinking about peer review that I call for in the previous chapter bears serious implications for our understandings of the nature of authorship and, in particular, for our relationships to ourselves as authors. In fact, the suggestion that a peer-to-peer review system will require the members of such a scholarly network to place their primary emphasis on the advancement of the community as a whole, rather than their own individual advancement, will no doubt produce a significant degree of concern among many academic readers, especially those in the humanities: however communally minded our publishing practices might...

  7. 3 Texts
    (pp. 89-120)

    If, as I argued in the preceding chapters, peer review in a digitally networked environment might most productively become a process of peer-to-peer review, and if online authoring will require us to think differently about the relationships among individual authors, we might expect that moving the machinery of publishing online would similarly demand or result in some greater connectivity in the forms that our published texts assume. To some extent, this goes without saying: the very essence of the web lies in the hyperlink, and texts on the web seem destined to be connected via links of one form or...

  8. 4 Preservation
    (pp. 121-154)

    Having explored the ways that authorship, authority, and interaction will of necessity change as we establish and come to depend upon new networked publishing systems, we must also think carefully about how those systems, and the texts that we produce within them, will live on into the future. Absent a printed and bound object that we can hold in our hands, many of us worry, and not without reason, about the durability of the work that we produce. Having opened a word-processing document only to find it hopelessly corrupted, watched a file seemingly evaporate from our computers, or possibly even...

  9. 5 The University
    (pp. 155-187)

    Everything that I’ve suggested up to this point—the need for a revitalized peer-to-peer mode of open, post-publication review of texts; the need for new understandings of authorship as dialogic, diffuse, and mobile; the need for new publishing structures that reflect a turn from focusing on texts as discrete products to texts as the locus of conversation; the need for new social modes of distribution and preservation for the texts produced within these new structures—all of these changes are aimed at the project of helping scholarly publishing in general, and university press publishing in particular, become viable within the...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 188-196)

    In late August 2009, after completing this manuscript and submitting it to NYU Press, which sent it out to readers as part of a conventional peer-review process, I began another process that would put my money where my mouth was, so to speak: with the press’s blessing, I posted the entire manuscript (save, of course, for this conclusion) online, using Comment Press, in order to facilitate an open review. As the chapter on peer review notes, I’m hardly the first author—or even the first in my field—to have opened a draft manuscript for comment in this way; the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 197-212)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-230)
  13. Index
    (pp. 231-244)
  14. About the Author
    (pp. 245-245)