On Publishing My YouTube "Book" Online (September 24, 2009)
NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
In the summer of 2009, I was awarded a summer fellowship with the Vectors Institute for Multimedia Literacy NEH Summer Institute. There I began thinking about, building, and writing (in collaboration with their staff, and in particular my designer Craig Dietrich) this publication from the approximately 200 pieces of writing that my students and I had already produced about/on YouTube. This 2009 blog post is one of a cluster of ruminations on publishing or presenting this large thing, first called "the work," sometimes called a "book," now the video-book.
Nicholas Carr blogs: "pundits have, for about two centuries now, been eagerly proclaiming the imminent death of the book. And, over and over again, they've been proven wrong. Today's book lovers may take comfort from that fact, but they probably shouldn't." [cit]

Composition/rhetoric is transforming to include competency in new media technologies. Writing studies sometimes now includes the "teaching and learning of language and literacy in multiple contexts and multiple modes, including print, digital, and visual."[cit] A similar change is occurring more broadly in teaching and scholarly writing within the humanities. Often called the digital humanities, this work occurs "at the intersection of the Humanities, computing and other emerging digital technologies."[cit]

This online publication (LFYT) has been supported by a Mellon grant, Scholarly Publishing Initiatives, that evidences a growing concern, and related inventive efforts, about academic publishing given new technologies. See, for example, Hacking the Academy: A Book Crowdsourced in One Week, and also, MediaCommons, which does "not simply shift the locus of publishing from print to screen, but will actually transform what it means to 'publish,' allowing the author, the publisher, and the reader all to make the process of such discourse just as visible as its product. In so doing, new communities will be able to get involved in academic discourse, and new processes and products will emerge, leading to new forms of digital scholarship and pedagogy."[cit]
Tomorrow I will be visiting Tara McPherson's graduate course concerning theories and practices of new media, and she has asked me to present, quickly, some of the difficult considerations that define my current efforts (with the assistance of the Vectors team) to "publish" my various YouTube findings, practices, musings, papers, videos, blogs, tours, and internet publications into a digital "book."

By way of introduction, and as a method to display the many contradictions and conundrums in the very format that is the problem, I briefly list here ten themes that define my (attempts to) move entirely online:

1) Audience. When you go online your readers (can) include nonacademics.

2) Commitment. Harder to command amid the distractions.

3) Design. Matters more; and it has meaning.

4) Finitude. The page(s) need never close.

5) Interactivity. Should your readers, who may or may not be experts, author too?

6) Linearity. Goes out the window, unless you force it.

7) Multimodality. Much can be expressed outside the confines of the word.

8) Network. How things link is within or outside the author's control.

9) Single author. Why hold out the rest of the Internet?

10) Temporality. People read faster online. Watching video can be slow. A book is long.

My publication will speak to an audience of scholars, committed intellectuals, and media activists through a simple, legible, but pretty design that refers visually to that which it critiques, while on a deep level (via architecture) performing that which it says YouTube precludes. It will stay open as I continue to learn, but there will be only limited avenues for interaction. I will produce several arguments that the reader can choose to follow or depart from at their whim and a second structure that gives the user more opportunities to link (and think) for themselves. A good deal of the ideas of this text will be expressed through video which will sit in a highly designed and interactive relation to written words with which it has been been previously associated. I will try to "time" these arguments, a kinds of montage really, to command my readers' interest and commitment.