'Filosofía pirata, edición libre', discussion with Perro Tuerto y Pucho (El Rancho Electrónico) y Gabriela Méndez Cota (Universidad Iberoamericana) for the Mexico city radio station Ibero, September 12, 2019.

Open Humanities Press – The Inhumanist Manifesto

Pirate Philosophy, This Is Not A Pipe Podcast

HyperCritical Theory

Übercapitalism and What Can Be Done About It

Recent publications

Masked Media (limited edition paper-only publication for The House That Heals The Soul exhibition, Tetley, Leeds, 2018) 

 The Inhumanist Manifesto: Extended Play (Techne Lab, 2017)

Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here in Media Gifts or in Coventry University's online repositories PURE here, and CURVE here 

Radical Open Access

« 'Gathered through dispersion': the book to come | Main | McKenzie Wark, ‘copyright, copyleft, copygift’ »

Open notebook humanities

So what options are available to book authors if (like Wark) they wish to have their work read beyond a certain ‘underground’ level (in Wark’s case that associated with net art and net theory), while at the same time being part of the academic gift economy? 

1.    Authors can publish with an open access press such as Australian National University’s ANU E Press, Athabasca University's AU Press, or Open Book Publishers. Graham Harman brought out Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics with, for instance, with John Carlos Rowe’s The Cultural Politics of the New American Studies shortly due to appear from Open Humanities Press, while Lev Manovich is publishing his new book Info-Aesthetics with Bloomsbury Academic, all of which are open access presses. Still, with the best will in the world, few open access book publishers are already established and prestigious enough as yet to have the kind of ‘brand name’ equivalence to Harvard that Wark desires.

2.    Authors can insist on signing only a non-exclusive contract with a press, one that would allow them to self-archive a peer-reviewed and perhaps even copy-edited version of their book. The difficulty, of course, is in finding a ‘brand name’ publisher willing to agree to this.

3.    Authors can endeavour to negotiate with such a press -- as Wark did with Harvard -- to see if they would be willing to make the published version of their book available for free online, with only the printed version available for sale. Ted Striphas is an author who, with The Late Age of Print, has published a book with Columbia University Press in this fashion. However, such instances often seem to be regarded by publishers as little more than one-off experiments.

4.    Authors can adopt a variation of the strategy advocated on the Self-Archiving FAQ written for the Budapest Open Access Initiative with regard to scholarly journal articles. This is simply ‘“don't-ask/don't-tell”’. Instead, publish with whichever publisher you like, self-archive the full text ‘and wait to see whether the publisher ever requests removal’.

5.    Either that or, if all else fails, author’s can wait for someone to publish a ‘pirate’ copy of this their book on


Noticeably, however, all these strategies in effect fasten what are identified -- conceptually, materially and economically -- as finished, complete, unified and bound books in legal binds; they are just different ways of negotiating such binds.

What though if book authors were to pursue ways of openly publishing their research before it is tied up quite so tightly?

To test this, last year I began experimenting with what I am calling an Open Humanities Notebook, taking as one model for doing so the Open Notebook Science of the organic chemist Jean-Claude Bradley. As was emphasized in an interesting 2010 interview with Richard Poynder on the impact of open notebook science, Bradley is making the ‘details of every experiment done in his lab’ - i.e. the whole research process, not just the findings – freely available to the public on the web. This ‘includes all the data generated from these experiments too, even the failed experiments’. What is more, he is doing so in ‘real time’, ‘within hours of production, not after the months or years involved in peer review’.


Given that one of my books-in-progress deals with a series of projects which use digital media to actualise, or creatively perform, critical and cultural theory, I decided to make the research for this volume freely available online in such an Open Notebook. I am doing so more or less as this research emerges, not just in draft and pre-print form as journal articles, book chapters, catalogue essays and so on, but also as contributions to email discussions, conference papers, lectures. Long before any of these texts are collected together and given to a publisher to be bound as a book, economically, materially and conceptually, then. 


As is the case with Bradley’s Notebook, this Open Humanities Notebook offers a space where the research for this volume, provisionally titled Media Gifts, can be disseminated quickly and easily in a manner that enables it to be openly shared and discussed.  More than that, though, it provides an opportunity to experiment critically with loosening at least some of the ties used to bind books once a text has been contracted by a professional press.


For instance, it is common for most book contracts to allow authors to retain the right to republish in their own works material that has previously appeared elsewhere (as scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, say), provided the necessary permissions have been granted. But what if draft or pre-print versions of the chapters that make up my book are gathered together in this Open Notebook? When it comes to publishing this research as a bound book, are ‘brand name’ presses likely to reject it on the grounds of reduced potential sales since a version of the material will already be available online? Will I be required to remove this material to ensure they have the exclusive right to sell or give away copies?


(This is one of a series of posts written as version 3.0 of a contribution to Mark Amerika's remixthebook project. For other posts in the series, see below and here)

Reader Comments (2)

Great work - keep pushing the limits of openness on the humanities front! There are so many options now for experimentation.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean-Claude Bradley

Thanks. Will do.

In fact we have a new series of 20 open books coming out at the end of this month that are doing just that. It includes one on open science - although the whole series is about the relation between the open science and the humanities really.

September 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterGary Hall

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