It is these parallels, then, between the past and the present (as outlined in the first part of this piece) that help us to appreciate that there is nothing particularly ‘new’ about new media as all media were once new. As Carolyn Marvin observes:
New technologies is a historically relative term. We are not the first generation to wonder at the rapid and extraordinary shifts in the dimension of the world and the human relationships it contains as a result of new forms of communication, or to be surprised by the changes those shifts occasion in the regular pattern of our lives.
Marvin limits her study to electric communications, beginning with the invention of the telegraph, which she sees as the starting point of modern mass media and culture. But, perhaps mass media began in the Victorian period with the illustrated book and illustrated periodicals such as the ILN and the Graphic. This is the argument that Patricia Anderson puts forward in her book The Printed Image and the Transformation of Popular Culture1790–1860, where she asserts that advances in printing technology and its ‘associated imagery’ brought about the ‘beginnings of a modern mass culture’ in the Victorian era. Furthermore, she goes on to write that ‘the concept of “mass” carries with it a historical perception of unprecedentedness’ and during that period ‘there was among both the producers and consumers of the emerging culture a shared consciousness that they were participating in a fundamental and far reaching change in the structure of knowledge and communication.’ This sense of ‘unprecedentedness’ is being echoed today, throughout wider culture and, significantly, within academia as a consequence of the digital and its potential impact on research. As the authors of Digtial_Humanities observe, ‘we see this moment as marking a fundamental shift in the perception of the core creative activities of being human, in which the values and knowledge of the humanities are seen as crucial for shaping every domain of culture and society.’
Developed around the late 1780s by Thomas Bewick, wood engraving allowed artists to create images with a high level of sophistication that could be reproduced easily and cheaply. Because the wood used to engrave the images was usually boxwood it was very durable and the wood blocks could be set alongside type in the printing press which allowed for word and image to be combined on a single page. As Brian Maidment notes, ‘Wood engraving vastly extended the possibility of integrating text and image into the same printed page using cheap and technically simple methods.’ Wood engraving, combined with more efficient printing techniques, meant that the literature business was transformed into a mass-produced commercial industry and, for the first time, illustrated books became affordable to working and middle class families.
Rupert Gatti (Cambridge) will be presenting his paper, ‘Open Access Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences’, at 4pm on Wednesday, 12 December 2012. The talk will take place in the Cardiff Humanities Building, Room 2.48.
Please note: this paper was originally scheduled to run at 2.30pm but is now running at 4pm.
Abstract The nature and methods of academic book publishing is transforming radically in the wake of external pressures and the rising costs of scholarly monographs. Open-Access publishing is increasingly being perceived as a solution to the problem facing both institutions, whose library budgets are being cut year-on-year, and scholars, who are attempting to disseminate their work to the widest audience possible. One company that is responding to this situation is Open Book Publishers: an imprint run by academics for academics, which is changing the nature of the traditional academic book. Its books are published in hardback, paperback, PDF and e-book editions, but they also include a free online edition.
We are in the midst of what journalists are calling an ‘academic spring’. Researchers are realising that the high cost of academic books and journals means that only a select readership can access their work. Open Access (that is, making texts free to read online) helps spread educational materials to everyone, globally, not just to those who can afford it. It is increasingly becoming a requirement for publicly funded research to be made available in Open Access format and we are able to achieve this quickly and effectively. Open Book Publishers, a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, shows that an Open Access model of publishing can be sustainable. In his talk, Rupert Gatti will discuss the transforming landscape of academic publishing and its implications, as well as talking more specifically about Open Book Publishers and its vision.
On 5 December 2011, Professor Robert Darnton (Harvard University) presented his stimulating and thought-provoking paper on the future of books in our emergent digital culture, as part of Cardiff University’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Using the metaphor of Jefferson’s Taper for the exchange of ideas (the transfer of light from one candle to another – a process in which one person gained while the other did not lose), Professor Darnton outlined ways in which digitization initiatives can be co-ordinated in order to provide a truly universal library for the 21st century.