Opening the book


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Opening the book

  1. 1. Opening the Book The Fifth International Conference on the Book Madrid, Spain 20-22 October, 2007 Spanish National Research Council Michael A Peters University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  2. 2. Investigating „the end of the book‟ There has been a great deal of speculative eschatology around the book—the end of the book, the end of print culture, and the demise of the author as well as a kind of messianic heralding of the new age of the screen, universal access to information and learning, and commons-based cultural production.
  3. 3. Opening the book This presentation begins by investigating the theology of the book before discussing one aspect of the new messianism about e-texts that I have simply called ‗openness‘—what I allude to by ‗Opening the Book‘.
  4. 4. Structure 1. ‗the end of the book‘ club 2. The concept of ‗the open society‘ 3. Open source & open access 4. Open knowledge production systems
  5. 5. Not the „end of the book‟ not the ‗end of the book‘ but its radical decentering in a new electronic textual system that will involve a set of changes in all aspects of the ‗culture of the book‘ including all phases of its creation, production and consumption as well as its practices and institutions of reading and writing.
  6. 6. Historical Sociology of Books Walter Benjamin – 1892 - 1940
  7. 7. „The end of the book‟ Walter Benjamin – One-Way Street, 1928 “Just as this time is the antithesis of the Renaissance in general, it contrasts in particular to the situation in which the art of printing was discovered. For whether by coincidence or not, its appearance in Germany came at a time when the book in the most eminent sense of the word, the book of books, had through Luther's translation become the people's property. Now everything indicates that the book in this traditional form is nearing its end.”
  8. 8. Walter Benjamin‟s analysis • Mallarmé‘s incorporation of the graphic tensions of the advertisement in the printed page • The Dadaists‘ typographical experiments • ―Printing, having found in the book a refuge in which to lead an autonomous existence, is pitilessly dragged out onto the street by advertisements and subjected to the brutal heteronomies of economic chaos. This is the hard schooling of its new form.‖
  9. 9. „The death of the author‟ Roland Barthes - 1915–1980
  10. 10. „Language speaks, not the author‟ „The author is a modern figure, a product of our society insofar as, emerging from the Middle Ages with English empiricism, French rationalism and the personal faith of the Reformation, it discovered the prestige of the individual, of, as it is more nobly put, the "human person." It is thus logical that in literature it should be this positivism, the epitome and culmination of capitalist ideology, which has attached the greatest importance to the "person" of the author.‘ "The Death of the Author" Aspen (1967) Image-Music-Text (1977)
  11. 11. The author-function Michael Foucault – 1926 - 1984
  12. 12. Michel Foucault: "What is an Author?" ‗In dealing with the "author" as a function of discourse, we must consider the characteristics of a discourse that support this use and determine its differences from other discourses… the form of property they have become is of a particular type whose legal codification was accomplished some years ago… the "author-function" is not universal or constant in all discourse… this "author-function" is that it is not formed spontaneously through the simple attribution of a discourse to an individual. It results from a complex operation whose purpose is to construct the rational entity we call an author.‘ From Foucault, Michel "What is an Author?", translation Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon, In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1977. pp.124-127.
  13. 13. „The end of the book‟ Jacques Derrida – 1930 - 2004
  14. 14. Logocentrism In Of Grammatology, Jacques Derrida equates the culture of the book with logocentrism, the belief in a signifier which is both outside of structure, and hence beyond scrutiny or challenge, and at the very centre, providing it with a central point of reference that anchors meaning. ‗The idea of the book, which always refers to a natural totality, is profoundly alien to the sense of writing. It is the encyclopedic protection of theology and of logocentrism against the disruption of writing, against its aphoristic energy, and [...] against difference in general (p. 18)‘
  15. 15. End of the printed book ‗The End of the Book, like the ―death of the author‖, is the conceptual analogue of the End of the Printed Book. These historical shifts have been concomitant with, and indeed have paved the way for, the advent of electronic hypertext. They signal not simply the demise of the bookmark industry or relief from the dangers of papercuts, but a way of thinking about the way we organize, conceive and imagine the world in which we live.‘ Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar at
  16. 16. „The Future of Books‟ Umberto Eco - 1932
  17. 17. „Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books‟ ‗In the course of many interviews I have been obliged to answer questions of this sort: "Will the new electronic media make books obsolete? Will the Web make literature obsolete? Will the new hypertextual civilisation eliminate the very idea of authorship?" Lecture at Bibliotheca Alexandrina November 1st 2003 at
  18. 18. The Open Text ‗Before the invention of computers, poets and narrators dreamt of a totally open text that readers could infinitely re-compose in different ways. Such was the idea of Le Livre, as extolled by Mallarmé. Raymond Queneau also invented a combinatorial algorithm by virtue of which it was possible to compose, from a finite set of lines, millions of poems. In the early sixties, Max Saporta wrote and published a novel whose pages could be displaced to compose different stories, and Nanni Balestrini gave a computer a disconnected list of verses that the machine combined in different ways to compose different poems‘
  19. 19. Opening the book There has been a great deal of speculative eschatology around the book—both the end of the book, the end of print culture, and the demise of the author as well as a kind of messianic heralding of the new age of the screen, universal access to information and learning, and commons-based cultural production. This paper begins by investigating the theology of the book before discussing one aspect of the new messianism about e-texts that I have simply called ‗openness‘—what I allude to by ‗Opening the Book‘. In: The International Journal of the Book (2007)
  20. 20. Eschatology: Theology of the book ‗The theology of the book is about this profound displacement that has encouraged a range of thinkers to posit an eschatology that hypothesizes the ‗end of the book‘ as a kind of trope for the investigation of cultural changes in set of related practices that accompany the transition from one economy of writing and reading space to another, from one centered on the book as a physical object endowed with certain properties and that develops in different forms over time to one that that is modeled on the distributed text in open electronic environments, that is taken up and consumed differently by a range of active users who remake the text with each operation. The messianic element in this reading thus begins to questions the metaphysics of the book and to herald the metaphysics of the new virtual spaces of the Web and the Internet in a way that throws into new light practices of reading and writing as well as the distinction between writers and readers.‘
  21. 21. Roger Chartier 1945-
  22. 22. The Order of Discourse ‗Regarding the order of discourse, the electronic world thus creates a triple rupture: it provides a new technique for inscribing and disseminating the written word; it inspires a new relationship with texts; and it imposes a new form of organization on texts‘ (2003) ‗The death of the reader and the disappearance of reading tend to be thought of as the inevitable consequence of the civilisation of screens, of the triumph of images and electronic communication‘ (2001)
  23. 23. The Open Society • Henri Bergson (1977 orig. 1932) in The Two Sources of Morality and Religion describes two sources of morality, one open whose religion is dynamic, the other closed whose religion is static. • Karl Popper (1945) in The Open Society and its Enemies criticizes historicism (Plato, Hegel and Marx) and provides a defense of the principles of liberal democracy • The Open Society Institute (OSI), a foundation created in 1993 by George Soros, leads to the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI)
  24. 24. The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) ‗free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited‘
  25. 25. Open Knowledge Production Systems • open source • open platform • open access • open content • open courseware • open communication • open archives • open learning • open education
  26. 26. Open knowledge systems Open knowledge production is based upon an incremental, decentralized (and asyncrhonous), and collaborative a development process that transcends the traditional proprietary market model. Commons-based peer production is based on free cooperation, not on the selling of one's labor in exchange of a wage, nor motivated primarily by profit or for the exchange value of the resulting product; it is managed through new modes of peer governance rather than traditional organizational hierarchies and it is an innovative application of copyright which creates an information commons and transcends the limitations attached to both the private (for- profit) and public (state-based) property forms. Based on Michel Bauwens‟ P2P Foundation work at the P2P Foundation at
  27. 27. Narrative of openness ‗The narrative of openness is tied to the story of freedom in both its economic and political forms and as such is also tied to the future of democracy and to education‘s role in its promotion.‘
  28. 28. From freedom of speech to freedom to create and distribute 399BC Socrates, 1215 Magna Carta, 1644 Areopagitica 1689 Bill of Rights grants 'freedom of speech in Parliament‗ 1734 John Peter Zenger is acquitted of liberal on defense of ‗truth‘ 1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man 1789 The Sedition Act imposed fines for criticizing the government 1791 The First Amendment of the US Bill of Rights guarantees four freedoms: of religion, speech, the press and the right to assemble 1929 Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes 1948 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1958 ‗Two Concepts of Liberty‘ Isaiah Berlin 1960 Penguin wins the right to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover 1962 One Day In the Life of Ivan Denisovich 1989 Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini issues a fatwa against Salman Rushdie 1991 The World Wide Web is released 1998 Open source software comes of age 2001 The Patriot Act gives the US government new powers 2004 CERNET2 launched by the China Education and Research Network 2007 Development of complete picture of future of interactive mobile Web applications 2007 Fundamentos Web 2007 conference launched in Spain
  29. 29. Openness & freedoms Openness means • ‗The freedom to study the work and to apply knowledge acquired from it; • The freedom to redistribute copies, in whole or in part, of the information or expression; • The freedom to make improvements or other changes, and to release modified copies‘ (OECD, 2007: 35).
  30. 30. The Open Book These are different freedoms from those that helped define the book and the culture of the book and represent another historical stage that we can call ‗opening the book.‘