Recent...

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

'The Inhumanist Manifesto', Media Theory, Vol. 1, No.1, 2017.

The Uberfication of the University (Open access Forerunners series version available here; as of April 4 2017 an interactive Manifold series version is available here.)

Públicos Fantasma - La Naturaleza Política Del Libro - La Red (Mexico: Taller de Ediciones Económicas, 2016) - new book, co-authored with Andrew Murphie, Janneke Adema and Alessandro Ludovico. 

'Posthumanities: The Dark Side of "The Dark Side of the Digital"' (with Janneke Adema), in Janneke Adema and Gary Hall, eds, Disrupting the Humanities: Towards Posthumanities, Journal of Electronic PublishingVol. 9, No.2, Winter, 2016.

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 repository CURVE here 

Radical Open Access 

performative project Janneke Adema has put together, based on our ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’ article for New Formations, Number 78, Summer, 2013. 

'What Does Academia.edu's Success Mean for Open Access: The Data-Driven World of Search Engines and Social Networking', Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy, no.5, 2015.

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Saturday
Aug312013

What are the Digital Posthumanities?

(This is the text of a talk first given as a keynote lecture at the DigitalHumanities@Leuven conference, University of Leuven, September 18-20. The programme for the conference is available here. More details about Digital Humanities at Leuven are available here.)

In the spirit of the EPublishing/ELearning theme of the day, this talk will begin by looking at a ‘digital humanities’ project I’ve been working on since 2011 with Open Humanities Press, Coventry University’s Open Media Group and Centre for Disruptive Media, among others.

Published by Open Humanities Press (OHP) and funded by Jisc, Living Books About Life is a series of open access books about life – with life understood both philosophically and biologically – that provide multiple points of connection and translation, as well as interrogation and contestation, between the humanities and the sciences. The twenty four books that currently make up the series have been created by a globally distributed network of artists, theorists and philosophers, including Mark Amerika, Claire Colebrook, Gabriela Méndez Cota, Alberto López Cuenca, Timothy Lenoir, Steven Shaviro, Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, many of whom are associated with the digital humanities. The books repackage existing science-related research content from open access repositories such as ArXiv.org, PLoS and PubMed Central by clustering it around selected topics: air, bioethics, extinction, evolution, genomics, pharmacology, veterinary science. By initially creating twenty one ‘living books about life’ in just seven months the series, edited by Clare Birchall, Joanna Zylinska and myself, offers one model for publishing digital humanities books in a low-cost manner in the future.

One of the main motivations behind the Living Books About Life project is the desire to experiment with publishing books, not just gratis (free) open access, but on a libre (re-use) basis, too. Interestingly, the Budapest-Bethesda-Berlin (BBB) definition of open access lists the ability to re-use material (and not just access it) as one of its essential features. Yet our research shows that,‘of the books presently available open access, only a minority have a license where price and permission barriers to research are removed.’

What is more, this distinction between ‘author-side openness’ and ‘reader-side openness’ tends to be  maintained even in the minority of cases where digital humanities authors have begun to open their books to readers: for example, by making them open to peer-commentary at various stages in the writing process, as McKenzie Wark and Kathleen Fitzpatrick did with GAM3R 7H30RY and Planned Obsolescence respectively. It is significant that both Wark and Fitzpatrick employed a blogging tool for their experiments with open peer review: namely, WordPress, albeit it with the CommentPress plugin developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book, which enables comments to appear alongside the main body of the text on a paragraph-by-paragraph, whole-page or entire-document basis. For the text of a blog’s author tends to be kept separate from that of others who use the same blog to review or respond to that text.  Although readers’ ‘responses to the text’ may ‘appear in the same form, and the same frame, as the text itself’ (usually below the line rather than alongside, as is the case with CommentPress),  these two distinct identities and roles – of original author and secondary reviewer, respondent or commentator, as it were – are maintained and reinforced by the blogging medium.  So in both cases Wark and Fitzpatrick remain the clearly identifiable authors of these clearly identifiable books, and it is to them that these books are attributed. What is more both of these texts were designed to eventually appear as more or less conventional hard-copy, printed books – a version of GAM3R 7H30RY came out with Harvard University Press and Planned Obsolescence was published by New York University Press. So these projects are still highly papercentric. (Is this perhaps one reason they are among the most often cited of their kind: because they are legitimated by their appearance in conventional codex book form and association with highly esteemed conventional print presses?).

By contrast, the books in our series are not just freely available for anyone, anywhere, to read and comment on: these ‘living books about life’ are themselves living in that they’re open on a read/write basis for users to help compose, edit, annotate and remix.  Anyone can get involved in the process of creating books for the series, or in adapting existing books for use in ELearning, and in this way produce an alternative Open Educational Resource, where the content and form of the book can be negotiated, updated and altered by learners themselves.

Perhaps the best example I can give of this in action is the course reader Joanna Zylinska developed for our sister series, Liquid Books. This was for a ten-week graduate theory course, ‘Technology and Cultural Form’, taught at Goldsmiths College, University of London. The course discusses the relationship between various media and technological forms, their social uses and culture in which they operate. In this context, the ‘liquid reader’ provides a practical case study of a media form students can both think about and actively construct. A basic, skeletal course reader was initially devised using a wiki platform. It included the key course content, and was subsequently opened to customisation by students. Throughout the course, students were then involved in adding and editing the reader’s content. They were also encouraged to experiment with the idea of ‘the reader’ – or book - through activities such as collaboratively writing a wiki-style essay. The idea was to provide an Open Education study tool that facilitates the sharing of knowledge and pedagogic practice. This reader continues to be freely available both to Goldsmiths students and to other users internationally.

Given that many of the ideas on which the humanities (and, with them, the University itself) are based – the individualized and indivisible proprietary author, originality, copyright and so forth – are commonly held as means of sustaining authority and creating trust between author and reader, why would we want to put this authority and trust at risk by making the books in the Living Books About Life series available on an open read/write basis? One way to explain this is in terms of digital posthumanities – what should really be called post-digital posthumanities, if that wasn’t such a mouthful. 

Our interest in the posthumanities goes at least as far back as 2006 and the chapter on ‘Cultural Studies and the Posthumanities’ Clare Birchall and I asked Neil Badmington to write for a book called New Cultural Studies