This weekend I’ll be attending THATCamp Publishing in Baltimore. If you’re not familiar with THATCamp, it’s a series of unconferences focused on making and doing digital humanities. And if you’re not familiar with unconferences, they are gatherings focused on a common interest that are designed to be inexpensive and organized on the fly and without a set program.
I think it’s fair to trace the origins of this flavor of THATCamp to a workshop I attended last May on libraries and publishing. Several of us were tweeting throughout the workshop and somewhere along the line, we agreed that an unconference on publishing would be really helpful. Within an amazingly short period of time, our tweeted idea was embraced by THATCamp Central when Amanda French, who coordinates THATCamps at the Center for History and New Media, offered a home for the idea. And so now, thanks to organizers and a constellation of sponsors, we’re getting together on Sunday to talk about publishing and try our hand at makng some stuff.
I’m not sure why I’m so interested in publishing. That is, I’m not sure if it’s because sometimes I think like a writer and am curious about how writers can better share their work, or whether it’s because I’m a librarian, concerned about the future of libraries and the scholarly work that depends on them, or whether it’s because I’m a reader who worries about a world where everything I want to read and share is only available to me if I pay the price of admission, a world where corporations treat books and ideas as their digital assets in perpetuity, where sharing is replaced by licensing. I think it’s fundamentally because I care about words and the ways they are shared from multiple perspectives, and I don’t want to sit on the sidelines as something that matters so much to me is transformed in ways that I find disturbing and unsustainable.
So I’m looking forward to this unconference on Sunday, though I’m a little worried that I will be out of my depth, a naïve fellow traveller who asks all the stupid questions. There will no doubt be a lively twitter stream if you enjoy that sort of thing.
Meanwhile, in honor of Open Access Week, I thought I would offer a shout out to a handful of the open access books out there already, projects that riff on the kind of publishing I would like to see flourish. Here are just of the books that make me hopeful for the future.
- Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks – a title that riffs off The Wealth of Nations to speculate about the relationship between networked information, freedom, and social justice. It’s good for me to look on the bright side and Benkler makes me hopeful. This was one of the books produced by Yale Unbound; not sure what the status of this imprint is.
- Richard L. Schur, Parodies of Ownership: Hip-Hop Aesthetics and Intellectual Property Law – one of many fascinating books published by Digital Culture Books; I’ve already gone all fangirl over their Hacking the Academyvolume, but this is another title in a series of intriguing investigations of the meanings of culture in a digital age – and a great example of press/library collaboration.
- Copy(write): Intellectual Property in the Writing Classroom edited by Martine Courant Rife, Shaun Slattery, and Danielle Nicole DeVoss – a collection of essays that consider our conceptions of property, appropriation, plagiarism, remix, and how all of these things come into play in the classroom. This is just one of a remarkable series of books available online through the WAC Clearinghouse. And, oh yeah, they have journals, too. Amazing trove of treasures.
- Clare Birchall, Knowledge Goes Pop: From Conspiracy Theory to Gossip – I totally have to read this book. It’s one of many excellent open access books available in many languages from OAPEN, a European open access project.
- Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture – one of severalbooks by Lawrence Lessig made available online through a Creative Commons license and, like all of them, a good and stimulating read.
Happy Open Access Week! And while we're celebrating, give some thought to making your work open, too.