1.xi Social Knowledge Creation in Electronic Scholarly Editions and e-Books

Aarseth, Espen J. 1997. “Introduction.” In Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, 1–23. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Aarseth attempts to develop a theory of cybertext works, with a focus on “ergodic texts.” Aarseth’s scholarly interest lies in texts that are purposefully shaped by the reader’s tangible and visible actions and decisions. He bases his speculation on the concept that cybertexts are labyrinthine and user dependent, and contain feedback loops. Aarseth criticizes the counterarguments that many texts can be read as cybertexts, but does not concede that this distinction derives from cybertexts’ necessarily electronic mode. The inherent performativity involved in reading cybertexts occurs in a network of various parts and participants, compared with the more conventional reading model of reader/author/text. Further, Aarseth argues, ergodic texts (primarily virtual games and multi-user domains [MUDs]) are defined by the agency and authority of the human subject (reader) whose decisions affect the outcome of the text as a whole.

Andersen, Christian Ulrik, and Søren Bro Pold. 2014. “Post-digital Books and Disruptive Literary Machines.” Formules/Revue des Créations Formelles et Littératures à Contraintes 18: 169–88.

Andersen and Pold conclude that the book is now “post-digital,” and they provide various examples of innovative and common textual artifacts to support this claim. They argue that the infrastructure around electronic publications has been normalized and integrated fully into international reading, writing, and consumption practices. Andersen and Pold emphasize the capitalism inherent in current mainstream digital text platforms, such as Amazon. The authors detail and vouch for attempts to counter the controlled, corporate, and user-objectifying electronic text ecosystem.

Bath, Jon, and Scott Schofield. 2015. “The Digital Book.” In The Cambridge Companion to the History of the Book, edited by Leslie Howsam, 181–95. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bath and Schofield reflect on the rise of the e-book by contemplating the various moving parts involved in its history and production. They focus on, and contribute to, the scholarly engagement with e-books, and they provide a comprehensive survey of theorists, including Johanna Drucker, Elizabeth Eisenstein, N. Katherine Hayles, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Jerome McGann, McKenzie, and Marshall McLuhan. Bath and Schofield integrate these theorists into a larger argument that suggests that both a nuanced understanding of book history and a comprehensive familiarity with digital scholarship is necessary to fully grasp the material and historical significance of the e-book. The authors conclude with a call to book history and digital humanities specialists (a.k.a. “scholar-coders”) to collaborate and develop new digital research environments together.

*Christie, Alex, and the INKE and MVP Research Groups. 2014. “Interdisciplinary, Interactive, and Online: Building Open Communication Through Multimodal Scholarly Articles and Monographs.” Scholarly and Research Communication 5 (4): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/190.

Christie considers the possibilities for uniting text-based scholarship with multimodal content. He focuses on features and platforms that are suitable for both text-based and multimedia scholarship, and suggests that digital scholarly publishing may better facilitate interaction between humanities scholars and the public. For Christie, rethinking scholarly communication in these ways must be supported by advanced cyberinfrastructure. The knowledge products and environments that result must also privilege multimedia, interactivity, user engagement, and implementation. This sort of platform thinking inheres a strategic reconsideration of interactivity, interdisciplinarity, design, and infrastructure investment.

*Clement, Tanya. 2011. “Knowledge Representation and Digital Scholarly Editions in Theory and Practice.” Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative 1: n.p. doi:10.4000/jtei.203.

Clement refl on scholarly digital editions as sites of textual performance, wherein the editor lays down and privileges various narrative threads for the reader to pick up and interpret. She underscores this theoretical discussion with examples from her own work with the digital edition In Transition: Selected Poems by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, as well as TEI and XML encoding and the Versioning Machine. Clement details how editorial decisions shape the social experience of an edition. By applying John Bryant’s theory of the fl text to her own editorial practice, she focuses on concepts of various textual performances and meaning-making events. Notably, Clement also explores the idea of the social text network. She concludes that the concept of the network is not new to digital editions; nevertheless, conceiving of a digital edition as a network of various players, temporal spaces, and instantiations promotes fruitful scholarly exploration.

*Cohen, Daniel J. 2012. “The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew K. Gold, 319–21. Minneapolis:  University  of  Minnesota  Press.  http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/27.

Cohen remarks on the social contract of scholarly publishing—the contract between the producers (authors, editors, publishers) and the consumers (readers), or the “supply side” and the “demand side.” According to Cohen, individuals on the supply side have become increasingly experimental in recent years, but there has not been enough attention paid to the demand side. Cohen asserts that a thorough consideration of the demand side is necessary for the social contract to endure into the digital age. To accomplish this, academics must think more socially and become increasingly cognizant of the design, packaging, and outreach of their publishing ventures.

Crompton, Constance, Raymond G. Siemens, and Alyssa Arbuckle, with the INKE Research Group. 2015. “Enlisting ‘Vertues Noble & Excelent’: Behavior, Credit, and Knowledge Organization in the Social Edition.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 9 (2): n.p. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/000202/000202.html.

Crompton, Siemens, and Arbuckle consider the gender factors involved in social editions by drawing on their experience developing a Wikibook edition of the Devonshire Manuscript, a sixteenth-century multi-author verse miscellany. The authors argue that while the Wikimedia suite can often devolve into openly hostile online spaces, Wikimedia projects remain important for the contemporary circulation of knowledge. The key, for the authors, is to encourage gender equity in social behaviour, credit sharing, and knowledge organization in Wikimedia, rather than abandoning it in favour of a more controlled collaborative environment for edition production and dissemination.

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. 2007. “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 10 (3): n.p. doi:10.3998/3336451.0010.305.

Fitzpatrick meditates on the current state and future possibilities of electronic scholarly publishing. She focuses her consideration on a study of CommentPress, a digital scholarly publishing venue that combines the hosting of long texts with social network features. Fitzpatrick argues that community and collaboration are at the heart of scholarly knowledge creation—or at least, they should be. Platforms such as CommentPress acknowledge the productive capabilities of scholarly collaboration, and promote this fruitful interaction between academics. Although Fitzpatrick admits that CommentPress is not the only or best answer to the questions of shifting scholarly communication, she celebrates its emergence as a service for the social interconnection and knowledge production of authors and readers in an academic setting.

*—. 2011. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York University Press. (“Introduction: Obsolescence,” 1–14, and Chapter 3: “Texts,” 89–120, are accessible at http://raley.english.ucsb.edu/wp-content2/uploads/234/Fitzpatrick.pdf.)

Fitzpatrick duly surveys and calls for a reform of academic publishing. She argues for more interactivity, communication, and peer-to-peer review, as well as a significant move toward digital scholarly publishing. Fitzpatrick demonstrates that the current mode of scholarly publishing is economically unviable. Moreover, tenure and promotion practices based primarily on traditional modes of scholarly publishing need to be reformed. Fitzpatrick acknowledges certain touchstones of the academy (peer review, scholarship, sharing ideas), and how these tenets have been overshadowed by priorities shaped, in part, by mainstream academic publishing practices and concepts. She details her own work with CommentPress, and the benefits of publishing online with an infrastructure that enables widespread dissemination as well as concurrent reader participation via open peer review.

Flanders, Julia. 2005. “Detailism, Digital Texts, and the Problem of Pedantry.” TEXT Technology 14 (2): 41–70. http://texttechnology.mcmaster.ca/pdf/vol14_2/flanders14-2.pdf.

Flanders acknowledges the long-standing academic anxiety surrounding detailism, automation, and numerical or scientific applications in textual studies and literary criticism. She contends that text analysis and digital editing should not be written off as reductionist or unimportant; rather, these humanities computing practices open up new fields of play and reader-based engagement and interpretation. Flanders argues that text analysis practitioners and scholarly digital editors are very aware of the consequences and nature of their work. Contrary to critics’ perspectives, these scholars do not consider computation the be-all and end-all of scholarship: computation is a means of expediting minute and tedious tasks in order to further—and differentiate—interpretation and knowledge creation.

Jankowski, Nicholas W., Andrea Scharnhorst, Clifford Tatum, and Zuotian Tatum. 2013. “Enhancing Scholarly Publications: Developing Hybrid Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences.” Scholarly and Research Communication 4 (1): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/viewFile/40/123.

Jankowski, Scharnhorst, Tatum, and Tatum present a report on their project, “Enhancing Scholarly Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences” (2011), an attempt to develop interlinked, comprehensive digital versions of humanities and social sciences texts. They detail their guiding activities and principles for developing enhanced scholarly publications, and explain how they enacted these principles: providing identifiers and citation information; using popular file formats; achieving adequate technical quality; considering legal issues; addressing availability and sustainability; considering ownership and responsibility; indicating peer review or ranking; balancing complexity with utility; and demonstrating the connection between objects. For Jankowski et al., this project revealed the need to extend the theoretical understanding of current scholarly publishing transformations. They recommend the development of an empirical research agenda that relates to such a theoretical understanding.

*Liu, Alan. 2009. “The End of the End of the Book: Dead Books, Lively Margins, and Social Computing.” Michigan Quarterly Review 48 (4): 499–520.

Liu argues that books have always, in a sense, been social media. He acknowledges the increase in bibliographic and material textual studies and the correspondences between new digital reading environments and the book, with a focus on paratextual materials and marginality. In this way, Liu contests apocalyptic claims of the death of the book. Notably, Liu channels his assertions through an analysis of humanities-based digital research projects: Collex, Open Journal Systems, and PreE. He suggests that these environments allow for more thoughtful online engagement and user operability (the capacity to effectively and easefully manipulate and tailor research practices) than their mainstream counterparts. The trend toward reading, researching, and writing in digital spaces does not herald the end of the book; rather, certain digital humanities projects are synthesizing integral reading practices in order to improve and facilitate more widespread knowledge production, with an eye to the inherent sociality of texts.

McGann, Jerome. 2006. “From Text to Work: Digital Tools and the Emergence of the Social Text.” TEXT: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies 16: 49–62. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30227956.

McGann meditates on the possibilities that digital editing affords for instantiations of social textuality. He argues that well designed digital editions bring significant opportunities for the social text (as bibliography scholar D.F. McKenzie championed). In contrast to their more conventional predecessors, digital editions can more accurately represent the dynamic relations inherent in the production and reception of a text. By simulating bibliographical and sociotextual phenomena, and employing carefully designed user interfaces that allow for multiple or specialized readings, digital editions can better represent texts as social artifacts and reading as a social act.

—. The Textual Condition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

McGann persuasively argues that the meaning of texts derives from the use of texts. As embodied phenomena, texts are always more expansive and inclusive than mere form or mere content. According to McGann, literary texts are social experiences, socially made, and thus require a form of social editing. McGann examines various theories and schools of textual editing, including literary theorist Gerard Genette’s conception of the paratextual apparatus. Further, McGann argues that the concept of “authorial intention” is a fallacy; texts pass through various hands—even through the author’s hands more than once—and to isolate one original, authentic, or “true” version is a technical and conceptual impossibility.

Moretti, Franco. 2005. Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. London and New York: Verso.

Moretti develops his theory on “distant reading,” the practice of interpreting literature by looking at large scale patterns—namely through using graphs, maps, and trees as analytical tools. Moretti criticizes literary studies for having too narrow or too close of a focus on specific, canonical literary works, and thus missing significant themes and trends. He draws on various analyses, from graphs of book production in the eighteenth century to geometric maps/diagrams of village stories to Darwinian theories of diverging evolution. Moretti concludes that distant reading can open up literary studies to a more morphological and inclusive way of analyzing and making knowledge.

Robinson, Peter. 2010. “Electronic Editions for Everyone.” In Text and Genre in Reconstruction: Effects of Digitalization on Ideas, Behaviours, Products and Institutions, edited by Willard McCarty, 145–63. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers.

Robinson acknowledges the significant gap between the projected success of digital editions at their inception and the actual popularity of these editions now. He suggests that editors significantly alter their methods of digital edition creation in order to reflect on and take advantage of increasingly sophisticated technology and Web 2.0 practices. Robinson claims that digital editions would gain popularity if they were modelled in a more fluid and distributed form. He argues that editors should move away from compiling scholarly digital editions in a dedicated space with a specific interface, method  of  organization,  and  formally  delineated  content;  instead,  they should develop Internet applications that track a user’s research interests and practices and automatically compile relevant information. This method would substantially alter digital scholarship and reflect the networked realm of the Internet much more accurately— and perhaps with more ease—than current digital editions are capable of.

*Saklofske, Jon, with the INKE Research Group. 2012. “Fluid Layering: Reimagining Digital Literary Archives Through Dynamic, UserGenerated Content.” Scholarly and Research Communication 3 (4): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/viewFile/70/181.

Saklofske argues that while the majority of print and digital editions exist as isolated collections of information, changing practices in textual scholarship are moving toward a new model of production. He uses the example of NewRadial, a prototype information visualization application, to showcase the potential of a more active public archive. Specifically, Saklofske focuses on making room for user-generated data that transforms the edition from a static repository into a dynamic and co-developed space. He champions the argument that the digital archive should place user-generated content in a more prominent position through re-imagining the archive as a site of critical engagement, dialogue, argument, commentary, and response. In closing, Saklofske poses five open-ended questions to the community at large as a way of kickstarting a conversation regarding the challenges of redesigning the digital archive.

Saklofske, Jon, and Jake Bruce, with the INKE Modelling and Prototyping Team and the INKE Team. 2013. “Beyond Browsing and Reading: The Open Work of Digital Scholarly Editions.” Scholarly and Research Communication 4 (3): n.p. http://src-online.ca/index.php/src/article/view/119.

Saklofske and Bruce discuss NewRadial, an Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) prototype scholarly edition environment. The prototype draws together primary texts, secondary scholarship, and related knowledge communities into a digital scholarly edition. Saklofske and Bruce deem this a social edition. NewRadial provides an open, shared workspace where users may explore, sort, group, annotate, and contribute to secondary scholarship creation collaboratively.

Shillingsburg, Peter. 2006. From Gutenberg to Google: Electronic Representations of Literary Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shillingsburg ruminates on  editorial  practice  and  his  ideal  digital  edition: the “knowledge site.” A knowledge site, in Shillingsburg’s conception, is a space where multiple editions of a text could be combined in a straightforward manner. Based on his experience and knowledge of editorial practice and the mandates of the scholarly edition, he deems various elements necessary for a knowledge site, including: basic and inferred data, internal links, bibliographical analysis, contextual data, intertextuality, linguistic analysis, reception history, and adaptations. Furthermore, in keeping with the notion that digital scholarly editions have the capacity to shift the possession of the text to the users, Shillingsburg would ideally include opportunities for usergenerated markup, variant texts, explanatory notes and commentary, and a personal note space. Concurrently, Shillingsburg argues that editing is never neutral, but rather an interference in the history and status of the text. The overt acknowledgement of the intrusive nature of editing is imperative for all successful scholarly editions. Since unobtrusive editing and universal texts are non-existent, scholarly editions are better conceived of as select interpretations of texts for specific means.

*Siemens, Raymond G., Meagan Timney, Cara Leitch, Corina Koolen, and Alex Garnett, with the ETCL, INKE, and PKP Research Groups. 2012. “Toward Modeling the Social Edition: An Approach to Understanding the Electronic Scholarly Edition in the Context of New and Emerging Social Media.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (formerly Literary and Linguistic Computing) 27 (4): 445–doi:10.1093/llc/fqs013.

Siemens, Timney, Leitch, Koolen, Garnett, et al. present a vision of an emerging manifestation of the scholarly digital edition: the social edition. The authors ruminate on both the potential and already-realized intersections between scholarly digital editing and social media. For Siemens et al., many scholarly digital editions do not readily employ the collaborative electronic tools available for use in a scholarly context. The authors seek to remediate this lack of engagement, especially concerning opportunities to integrate collaborative annotation, user-derived content, folksonomy tagging, community bibliography, and text analysis capabilities within a digital edition. Furthermore, Siemens et al. envision the conceptual role of the editor—traditionally a single authoritative individual—as a refl of facilitation rather than of didactic authority. A social edition predicated on these shifts and amendments would allow for increased social knowledge creation by a community of readers and scholars, academics and citizens alike.

Smith, Martha Nell. 2004. “Electronic Scholarly Editing.” In A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Raymond G. Siemens, and John Unsworth, 306–22. Oxford: Blackwell.

Smith relies on her experience with the Dickinson Electronic Archives to formulate a conceptual theory of and argument for electronic scholarly editing. For Smith, a significant benefit of the digital scholarly edition is the shift from unilateral authority to networked experience, from the voice of the sole editor to the polyphonic interpretation of multiple readers. Smith acknowledges the various elements that allow for social knowledge production in the digital scholarly edition, including: comprehensive inclusion of various artifacts and digital surrogates; enabling of multiple editorial theories and consequent readings; engagement of many editorial and readerly intentions and priorities; and social communication via readers’ responses, preferences, and tailored readings. Smith concludes that electronic scholarly editing offers the opportunity for more inclusive and democratic knowledge production.

Stein, Bob. 2015. “Back to the Future.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 18 (2): n.p. doi:10.3998/3336451.0018.204.

Stein considers the digital book as a place rather than an object or tool—a place where readers gather, socially. He details the experiments at his Institute for the Future of the Book with social platforms, including creating an online social edition of Mackenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory, and their current work with SocialBook. SocialBook is an online, collaborative reading platform that encourages readers to comment on the text and interact with each other. Stein makes reference to historic social reading practices, and infers that platforms such as SocialBook are closely aligned to these traditions.

Vandendorpe, Christian. 2012. “Wikisource and the Scholarly Book.” Scholarly and Research Communication 3 (4): n.p. http://src-online.ca/src/index.php/src/article/viewFile/58/146.

Vandendorpe contemplates Wikisource, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, as a potential platform for reading and editing scholarly books. He comes to this conclusion after considering what the ideal e-book or digital knowledge environment should look like. For Vandendorpe, this artifact must be available on the web; reflect the metaphor of a forest of knowledge, rather than a container; situate the reader at the centre of the experience; and be open, reliable, robust, and expandable. Wikisource, the author concludes, has the potential to meet these criteria: it enables quality editing and robust versioning, and has various display options. That being said, Vandendorpe also outlines areas of development necessary for Wikisource to become an ideal candidate for this sort of knowledge creation.

*Vetch, Paul. 2010. “From Edition to Experience: Feeling the Way towards User-Focused Interfaces.” In Electronic Publishing: Politics and Pragmatics, edited by Gabriel Egan, 171–84. New Technologies in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 2. Tempe, AZ: Iter Inc., in collaboration with the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Vetch explores the nuances of a user-focused approach to scholarly digital projects, arguing that the prevalence of Web 2.0 practices and standards requires scholars to rethink the design of scholarly digital editions. For Vetch, editorial teams need to shift their focus to questions concerning the user. For instance, how will users customize their experience of the digital edition? What new forms of knowledge can develop from these interactions? Moreover, how can rethinking the interface design of scholarly digital editions promote more user engagement and interest? Vetch concludes that a user-focused approach is necessary for the success of scholarly publication in a constantly shifting digital world.