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Online Publishing

Evolving Attitudes to Paying for Online News

Finally for this session and for ECREA 2016, Richard Fletcher directs our attention to the question of paying for online news, drawing on a six-country study of online pay models. Such models have been a major concern in the industry for a long time, but have remained elusive; there are also few findings in the research that are consistent across different national media systems.

New Models for Scholarly Publishing

We’ve entered the final afternoon of the Digital Humanities Australasia 2012 conference, and the next session I’m attending starts with Danny Kingsley, whose interest is in the changing nature of scholarly communication. Such communication generally follows a cycle from publication to reading to ideas to research to new publications, but there is no generic scholarly researcher: there is also an invisible college of people who share an interest in a topic, but may not be immediately connected to the research.

Scholarly communication ranges from ‘urban’ science models (lots of researchers, fast-moving, high volume and speed of publications, especially through conference papers) to ‘rural’ research activities (slower moving, longer timeframes, slow editing processes, and a greater focus on monographs). Journals sit somewhere in the middle, and haven’t changed all that much since the emergence of journals in the 1600s; the scholarly article remains a fairly stable unit of currency in academia, and is deeply embedded in its rewards systems.

The Shape of an Emerging Monitory Democracy

Another day at ANZCA 2010, another keynote: we're starting this last day of the conference with a keynote by John Keane, whose theme is monitory democracy. He begins chronologically, in 1945 - when there were only 12 parliamentary democracies left in the world. Democracy was a beleaguered species.

John himself is in search of a 'wild category' - a category that provides a new way of seeing conventional wisdom, provides alternatives to traditional ways of ordering thought. We need a new term for describing the dynamics, changes of language, shifts in institutions, of democracy - and monitory democracy is the term he offers. We need a new term to describe these novel trends (which exist all over the world, especially also outside the traditional democratic countries), and in particular to better understand the intersections of democracy and communication forms.

User Attitudes towards Online News: An Inferior Good?

Hong Kong.
The final presenter at The Internet Turning 40 today is Iris Chyi, whose focus is on users' emotional attachment to online news. In the US, newspapers currently appear to be in crisis: print circulation is declining, and online usage has not translated into significant revenue. Paid content is positioned as a potential solution, but may remain an impossible dream - and that debate, too, has gone on for a decade already.

Media usage does not always correspond to the attitudinal factors that drive the media selection process - online news users' response to online news is not necessarily enthusiastic, and may be an inferior good. In the past, media choices were made between scarce goods, and the only alternative to using specific media was not to use the media at all; today, choice has increased, and media use follows a preceding process of media selection - and that process is driven by user perceptions of the various media options available to them. Attitudinal factor deserve more attention, then.

Open Access to Scholarly Information

The final speakers in this EDEM 2010 session are Noella Edelmann and Peter Parycek, who begin by highlighting the importance of open access journals, and the mindshift amongst users who now expect to have open access to information.

Open access has caused a stir in the academic community by providing a different model for publication; it is still poorly understood, however: it does not necessarily change peer review processes, for example, though some open access projects do substantially change the approach to scholarly publication. It operationalises the advantages of publishing online by minimising costs and maximising distribution; in doing so, it also creates substantial benefits especially for disavantaged scholars (e.g. from developing countries).

Considering the 'Gated' in Gatekeeping Theory

The next speaker at AoIR 2009 is Karine Barzilai-Nahon, who shifts our interest to network gatekeeping theory. Online, users can become gatekeepers, and are no longer simply being gatekept for - so gatekeeping power has shifted to some extent; additionally, gatekeeping is no longer a solid state, but is becoming a much more dynamic phenomenon where we're sometimes gatekeeping ourselves, sometimes receiving the results of gatekeeping processes.

Gatekeeping theory was developed by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s, observing food habits in families (and seeing housewives as gatekeepers at that time); this was later applied in a major way to the editors in news publications, who control what information is selected for publication from all the daily events. Other applications are the management of technology (what new technologies reach a larger range of users) and information science (already starting to look at the role of communities as gatekeepers).

The Impact of Content Management Technology on Journalistic Practice

The final presentation at the Future of Journalism 2009 conference, then, is by Ivar John Erdal, whose interest is in the relationship between technological changes and journalistic practices, examined through a study of journalists; experiences with digital production systems. Media organisations now rely increasingly on content management systems, which embed some specific technological and socio-cultural constraints and opportunities; in line with Giddens's structuration theory, these institutional structures (determined by intangible rules and tangible resources) affect journalistic practice.

Pushing Towards Open Access Scholarship

We're in the final keynote for AoIR 2007 already (I missed the morning session this Saturday as I was having breakfast with Henry Jenkins this morning) - the keynote speaker today is John Willinsky from the Public Knowledge Project. He begins by noting issues of civic participation and access to knowledge as a key question of today, and relates these especially also to academic publishing: 'you make all the content, they take all the wealth' also applies in this environment, and the moral economy of academic work must be carefully considered. Fan writing, fans going public with their work - something that Henry Jenkins talked about yesterday - also translates into important challenges for academics: we, too, should aim to make our work more public, and connect it to wider civic concerns. This goes well beyond questions of technologies of access and distribution - it requires a shift of thinking; we need to 'get in the game', to allude to the 'Let's Play' theme of this conference.

Changing Models of Scholarly Discourse

Towards the end of March, I'll be attending the ICE 3 conference (Ideas, Cyberspace, Education) at Ross Priory on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland (hopefully the conference acronym won't reflect the weather there). My own paper deals with issues around teaching produsage, but in the lead-up to this small but apparently high-powered conference (Gunther Kress is a keynote speaker), one of the presenter teams has set up a blog to discuss the challenges of social software and other online publishing models for the traditional academic publishing environment. Reading one of the position statements, by Bruce Ingraham, led me to post a somewhat un-bloggy, lengthy response, which I'm also reposting here:


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