[iDC] MobilityShifts introduction

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Mon Jun 20 09:10:43 UTC 2011

Dear all,

I am sorry I could not attend the big event on playbour two years ago  
but this October I will be there!

Let me introduce myself. I am a Dutch-Australian media theorist,  
activist and net critc. Since 2004 I working in Amsterdam at two  
different institutions, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences  
(HvA) where I am director of a small research unit called INC, the  
Institute of Network Cultures (www.networkcultures.org) for three days  
a week. The remaining two days I am at University of Amsterdam where I  
teach in the new media (one year) masters program inside Mediastudies  
which is part of the humanities faculty (also known for its Masters of  
Media blog). This program has grown in the first five years of its  
existence from 8 to 80 students. Since 2009 I am also professor in  
media theory at the European Graduate School (www.egs.edu). My latest  
book, Network Without a Cause, the fourth in a series of studies in  
critical internet culture, will come out early 2012 with Polity Press  
(I submitted the final manuscript late April).

During my lecture on Friday morning I will talk about the many  
publishing initiatives that we have undertaken at INC. Taken into  
consideration the drop in price of print, digital distribution and  
storage, combined with the sublime stagnation inside academic  
publishing, arcane and corrupt peer review rituals performed by  
academic journals, we have a interesting starting position to do  
experiments with hybrid forms of both free and monitized digital/ 
networked/paper publishing. Lately, the traditional publishing  
industry finds itself in a period of rapid transition due to the rise  
of e-readers, iPads, Kindles etc. How do artists and activists reponds  
to this new situation? We all heavily depend on the dissimination of  
our work and ideas. However, many of are still locked into publishing  
deals that no longer work for us. We want our ideas to intervene into  
the realtime politics of our age, not come one or two years later. The  
same is the case for students who are confronted with expensive text  
books, journal subscriptions and high book prices in general that no  
longer reflect that technological state of the art. We all know what  
happens in response to this anachronistic situation. Instead of only  
complaining about the current stalemate, it could be go have multiple  
conversation, before, during and aftr MobilityShifts on emerging  
publishing strategies.

A few days ago I have sent Trebor the following outline of my talk:

Do-It-Together: Digital Publishing Experiments at the Institute of  
Network Cultures
By Geert Lovink

Just as its enthusiasts say, the digital revolution has empowered
individuals to create and publish their own content through cheap,
easy-to-use tools and platforms. But there are a few complications. For
one, do-it-yourself quite often results in less than average outcomes  
- we
aren't all born as multi-talented graphic designers, qualified
copy-editors and instant marketeers. So while the division of labour in
the context of free cooperation and accessible tools is certainly no
shame, neither are the professional standards that we should expect to
come with it. On top of this, the proliferation of new delivery  
and authoring tools in a rapidly changing publishing environment makes  
hard for individual authors and researchers to keep up. Finally, with  
publishing industry going through its Napster phase (think AAAARG),
collaborative publishing and book sprints (see FLOSS Manuals) will soon
shift the industry's focus from copyright and licensing to crowd funding
and searchability.

To explore this perplexing landscape - and reacting to the often slow  
conservative arena of academic publishing - the Amsterdam-based  
of Network Cultures (INC) has developed a number of publishing series of
its own. This lecture gives an overview of INC's practice-based research
into different publishing strategies: free newspapers, open access  
software, a book series in collaboration with a traditional publisher
(NAi), digital typography experiments, print-on-demand offerings through
Lulu and the Expresso Book Machine and various reading platforms from  
and HTML 5 to e-pub and Scribd. We see this initiative ultimately as a
political project: perhaps to confound older systems that are starting  
crumble anyway, while in the meantime building alternative, sustainable
models for free cooperation and knowledge production.

Looking forward to interesting and productive exchanges!

Geert Lovink

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