Yes But

The readings for this week were a bit less connected than I had anticipated, not bad, just surprising since the other readings revolved around 1 topic. The Risam reading pointed out simple concepts yet with profound ramifications.   The design concept of ‘Less is more.” applies in DH also.  Not having to chase the latest and most powerful tools, one can still get the work done and even make it more egalitarian.  However, I noticed several points which seemed inconsistent. I appreciated the mention in the reading of, “documentary culture… has been profoundly shaped by colonialism” while they acknowledge “being postcolonialist advocating for a universal implementation to computing’ as being contradictory, yet they do not satisfactorily respond to it.  They go on to state,” At the heart of this state of affairs is the role of capital in the control of scholarly production.” Yes, but doesn’t that have to be so? Isn’t having capital also a necessity for having access to digital computing or archives.  Something seemed missing from the conversation.

The Michael et. al article reminded me of a Drucker article I read, The Virtual Codex from Page Space to E-space. We are in the digital realm and it is expanding to engage us in the realm of books.  Drucker discussed that books are not about what they are but what they do, and for us to continue along that line of thinking we must access digital realms that extend what books do. The way a book works is best described with an architectural metaphor of ‘program,’ which constitutes activities. The ‘program’ of a book is the activities derived from it. So, it makes natural sense that Manifold or hybrid publishing is the next iteration of the activity.  

The readings regarding Open Access gave me a pause.  I appreciate the concept of Open Access to make for a more egalitarian society. However, again, something seemed missing.  Something I can’t put my finger on yet is a big blind spot.  I appreciated the concept of allowing all to access anything.  I think OER is a good choice for some classes.   I think that breaking down barriers to education is important. But, I have questions that come up and some that are slightly below the surface where I can’t articulate them yet.  For example, how are we to pay for a writer?  How would a writer sustain a family with that sort of livelihood? The person or people who write text books take several years to write one, and the sales and circulation of the books is not substantial. How will they support a family if the book is made free of charge? What if they are not full time or tenured? Are we eradicating the profession of a writer?  What happens when everything is free?  Does the adage of ‘Too much of a good thing is not good.’ apply here?  There isn’t a person who knows me who has not heard me laud the tremendous wonders of free courses from iTunes University (just closed) to all of the Open Courses in many of the major universities, yet of the hundreds (if not more) of the people I have told how many actually took one or listened to one? Again, something is missing, but I’m not sure what. The concept seems nice, but I have questions as to the implementation and results The readings gave me many ideas about open access, but also gave me just as many questions.

For those interested in public access sites, OER or Open Courses here are a few:


2 thoughts on “Yes But

  1. Colin Geraghty

    Hey JP,

    Yes But — $? (Sorry,- couldn’t resist remixing your title)

    While reading ‘What is Open Access?,’ I kept thinking yes, but who’s paying?

    Take when Suber says the following:
    “Suppose that selling their work would actually harm their interests by shrinking their audience, reducing their impact, and distorting their professional goals by steering them toward popular topics and away from the specialized questions on which they are experts.”

    I think it all depends on where the money is coming from. If its from private sources than – by all means- stick with specialized questions on which they are experts.
    But if its public money that supports the work then there is an obligation the public. And part of that obligation should be to try make their specialized questions understandable so they do become popular topics.

    Suber’s statement above sounds like to be more inclusive we have to be more exclusive, which isn’t exactly ‘open access.’

  2. JP Essey (he/him) Post author

    Yes, Colin. That is a more concise title! And thanks for the links, which I hope will make things a bit clearer as there’s so much implied and I can’t really articulate my nagging thoughts YET.

Comments are closed.