Kelty on the Culture of Publishing

Speaking of the culture of publishing in anthropology, Christopher Kelty discusses his new book “Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software” over at Savage Minds. He published it under the creative commons, created a web version, a printed version, and he discusses how it might contribute to “re-mixing” academic work. I am looking forward to reading it and including it in my upcoming research! In his post on Savage Minds he brings up some valuable discussion about the culture of publishing:

“like to think that the book isn’t only about free software, but an anthropology of knowledge circulation more generally, and I hope that it interests even those who are too cool for old school.”

Do I have time to read this and get it into the proposal? Hopefully some of it… Thankfully Kelty’s introduction to the book on Savage Minds is loaded with relevant quotes:

“Having been through the process of publishing a book, like oneman, I wish we could publish our books faster, and try to merge some of the timely but ill-considered insight of the blog-form with the deliberate and peer-reviewed caution of the book-form… but I’m nonetheless a committed modernist in that I think the book-form has a quality that no other form of communication has, and it has taken centuries for that quality to develop.”

and he discusses the role of new authoring possibilities –

“so what would remixing scholarly work really mean? One thing I hope it means, in the social and human sciences especially, is that we contribute to a shared collection of conceptual tools that are refined by confrontation with empirical reality. Two Bits contains a couple such concepts (recursive publics, usable pasts) as well as contributing more generally to research on the public sphere, on the meaning of making things and making things public, as well as a substantive field of work focusing on software, networks, geeks, hackers, entrepreneurs, intellectual property and so forth. So one key aspect of the future of this book is a project I’m calling “Modulations” for short, which is an attempt to think about not just these concepts and problems in particular, but the modes and manners in which we interact as scholars around the development, refinement and co-ownership of such concepts.”

I’m not nearly as well grounded (I fail empirically), and I’m probably still lost in post-modernism (except I can’t even tell) – but clearly there is a horizon of new styles in anthropology. I’ll be sure to write more as I hack his modules into my thesis.


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