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Notes Towards Day 5 (Tues, Jan 31): Thinking more about Collaboration

Anne Dalke's picture

This is a palimpsest.

"We need to think less about completed products and more about texts-in-process,

we need to think less about individual authorship and more about collaboration;
we need to think less about originality and more about remix;

we need to think less about ownership and more about sharing." (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)

your web events are due @ 8 p.m. this Friday;
posting a web event = creating a portfolio entry PLUS
tagging it as a student webpaper: Genres Webpaper 1

(that way, it will appear in the forum, but will also
generate an easily accessible list of papers for me to review)
you don't need to make another posting this weekend
(though you are always welcome to!)

for Thursday,
please explore The Breaking Project,
which is about making "radical breaks" in our writing/thinking/being;
it was founded by Alice Lesnick, who directs the
Bi-Co Ed Program, and who will join us for class
(we'll be "workbooking" one or two of the projects--
by Catanese, Dalke &/or Grobstein--
so be sure to pay special attention to those).

There's a nice long post in our course forum from An Active Mind, who won't be able to join us this week; especially important--as a bridge to what Alice is doing--is her observation that her blog about mental illness was "one of the hardest courses I’ve taken at BMC because it really prompted a blending of the personal and academic... I was really forced to open myself up & use my own experiences as an academic lens ... the project made me start to think a lot about ...the problematics or possibilities of doing work in a self-identified field."

II. your postings also pretty intriguing...

sterrab: the word “manifesto” … helped me relate the mass 2011 protests, such as those in the Arab Spring and Occupy, to the digital humanities. ..The digital platform allows writing to be collaborative and transformative … Even if one’s work may be individual, it inevitably joins a mesh of accessible works that simply condense to make up a node in the multidimensional lattice of the digital humanities.

but this means that...?!

kobieta, Nothing of me is original:
It’s already hard to identify the real source of an idea….Take, for example, Tumblr….I often find myself “re-blogging” posts that others have blogged before me….

Of the active Tumblr users that I've met, there seems to be a desire to ... have as many reblogs as possible ... a "free giving" culture on the site which allows for people to just "take" ...However, I do think that there is also some agency here. A Tumblr user has control over the content that appears on their account which reveals "extension of themselves" ... the final product (the tumblr account) is actually greater than the sum of its parts.

EGrumer: we have wandered into an interesting realm of netiquette here.  What if I find an image that I want to post, but I can’t find who created it, or what it is of, or anything about it?... Other Tumbler users realize that posting something is not claiming authorship of it, and so images simply exist there, multiplying themselves out with each reblogging, like a mirror-in-mirror trick.  Where they came from is a mystery.

dglasser: to be original, something must reference the familiar ... while adding a “newness” to a previous tradition, as well as have an ... intent that may or may not be fully known by the artist at the start of their creation.

KT: I’m wondering how the intent of trying to be creative diminishes the creativity ... In which case, creativity is something that we can only stumble upon? .... How does the idea of being an individual- which seems to necessitate being different from others, affect creativity ...?  Would this make a collective society more creative ... more likely that creativity will occur because of the unexpected?

Ayla: I like to be different for the sake of being different .... There is something purifying in going against the grain or fighting the current ... you get a sense of self-accomplishment .... but there is also a pressure to use information that is already present.

III. we'll get some more insight now (maybe!) on these questions, from Cassie Kosarek --
and her sequence of (increasingly collaborative) web experiments:
Coming @ Poetry from Two Directions
On the Argument of the Origin/On the Origin of the Argument;
The Role of Fiction in Science, on Tumbler and Facebook;
and Wanderings Pertaining to my English Thesis.

read in light of the first two chapters of Kathleen Fitzpatrick's
Planned Obsolesence
: "Peer Review" and "Authorship,"
which suggests that we shift our focus on individualistic to
more collective, socially situated parts of our work
highlights the "abundance" of the internet, vs. the "scarcity"
model which guides decisions in print culture)

go round, tell Cassie who we are, and describe to
her something of our initial reaction to her work
(or ask her a question about how it evolved,
or share a reflection about its intersection w/ Fitzpatrick's manifesto?)

III. for Cassie:
* how did you happen to come to do this kind of writing?
* what were you trying to do?
* what was it like, doing it? (emphasis on process)
* what sort of reception did it get? (question re: product)

for us:
* what are all of our reactions, now, to this sort of emerging web-work?

* how does it illustrate and/or challenge Fitzpatrick's vision of 21st c. writing?

IV. Reading Notes from Fitzpatrick, Chapter 1, "Peer Review":


epistemological dimensions: truth, bias, relativism, conservatism, cnosensus, and standards of good argument
genuinely "owning" our careers = risk of applying critical skills
to examine scripts, values, biases, norms of our profession
primary concern in clinging to peer review: loss of power and prestige/
privilege of upholding closed system of discourse?

history of peer review = royal license required for legal sale of printed texts (state censorship)
early amiguity: review of one's peers = peers of the realm (controversial printing impossible)
pre-disciplining gradually transitioned to self-policing, creation of disciplinary technology:
produces conditions of possibility for disciplines it authorizes

cf. recent publishing experiments: arXiv (open-access 'eprint'/pre-print repository),
Nature's failed experiment w/ online open review
complications in notion of publication: texts in review stage already available on-line
bifurcation in purpose of peer review: fostering discussion and filtering for quality
dual-stage process would return center of gravity to peer communication
anonymous reviews: power w/out responsibility, and excludes author
anonymity discourages open, effective, productive discussion; justice ill served by secrecy
primary purpose: institutional warranting
category error: not a prior indicator of quality
internet disrupts association between publication and quality of work
revise this exercise in gatekeeping: let everything through the gate, then focus on reception

Wikipedia: anti-credentialist, w/ contributions judged on their merit
new mode of authority production: mass moderation
blog commentaries a social process, more trustworthy
electronic publishing doesn't share the economics of scarcity of print publishing
Cory Doctorow: "it isn't a tragedy of the commons; this is a commons where the sheep s*** grass
--where the more you graze, the more commons you get"--> such is the abundance of the internet,
where the artificial scarcity of the gatekeeping model of peer review makes little sense
in a self-multiplying scholarly commons, time and attention remain scarce:
Peer review should be put in the service of filtering: publish-then-filter is the new working system

From Chapter 2, "Authorship":
each text in direct interaction w/ those to which it is linked; comments expand the text itself
we are accustomed to drawing boundaries round our texts:
our understanding of authorship is contingent upon such separation (of text from what it cites)
troubling conception of library as ever-expanding web of intellectual freeplay:
how does multivocality of texts transform our sense of authority?
"collective cognition" valued in science
w/ multiple authorship, rethink "credit" for publication
digital writing mobilizes the text, as it interpenetrates other writing
collective a fertile community of multiple intelligences working in relation w/ others
increased productivity/increased creativity
not a radical shift, from focus on individualistic to
more collective, socially situated parts of our work,
from what unique individuals have to say to a social mode of conversation
authorship was always a practice of giving ideas away --
but we cling to profound individualism in thinking about scholarly productivity
complex intertwining of individuality and originality: if work of our predecessors is contained
w/in our own texts, how demarcate our own contributions as unique, discrete, original?
closed text carries several key assumptions: that the text is
finished, perfect, original, distinguished from others' work, new
digital technologies make published work incomplete, open to revision and authorial attribution
(this opens the borders of plagiarism, too)
read-write structure of digital technologies questions assumption of authorial primacy, originality
most ostensibly original text is rife w/ reference: completes others, is raw material for others...
remix/mashup fruitful influences for scholarship authorship? --> curation, juxtaposition, creating playlists
greatest labor: post-publication filtering

raises serious questions about ownership of ideas: "intellectual property"
original reasoning for copyright, financial benefit, now radically eroded
what is potential value in "giving it away"? understanding distribution as driven by a gift economy?
consider the "recursive public" (self-maintaining) open source software community:
commons-based approach to re-use and re-purpose: question link between authorship & ownership

begin to shift our work from a uniform focus on the text-only formats to more multi-modal ones,
not just including visuals as forms of illustration, but transforming the conditions of writing
consider significance of shift from typewriter to word processer, putting pixels on screen
(computer is co-writing w/ us; we need to become literate in markup/computer languages):
what is a text?