Publishing: What has changed?

Publishing Blog

With the introduction of the printing press, a great many things changed globally, both for those who were literate, and those who weren’t.  For the first time, publications could be standardized – the benefits of which were immeasurable for academic purposes. As Elisabeth Eisenstein suggests in her 1979 book, Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture, this allowed for collective criticism of publications, as the discussion was centred around a static piece of work (p.74). However as time progressed and further advances were made with technology (particularly as printing expanded towards individual use), regulation issues began to surface.

There is no doubt the world is more interconnected than ever before. The internet gives us the ability to update information as it becomes available, with a kind of immediacy that’s almost frightening. While this amount of sharing is positive in many ways, having such expansive returns for any given search result does tend to make the validity of many information sources particularly questionable. A more positive implication of this interconnectedness is that it opens up a massive amount of opportunity for people to collaborate; many softwares or utilities available online are now ‘open-source’, meaning that they are free to be edited as the user sees fit. This then leaves the final product as a collaboration between original owner and user, which unfortunately raises some issues regarding copyrights and ownership.

Another thing that occurs when information is so easy to publish, is that we see a change in audience. Who we intend to market our online publications to, and the people that actually do see them can be two different things entirely. The etiquette online is hazy at best, and while most people are good-natured, there are disagreements on what is acceptable. At this stage of proceedings, I think the safest thing to assume is that anyone can see what you post, uncomfortable as that thought may be. As is the case with any technology, it will take time to find a common ground with what constitutes acceptable use to a majority of people.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1979) ‘Excerpts’ from ‘Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture’ in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change Vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 43-163
[First published 1 August 2015]

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