Writing Machines is the course website for English 170L at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
the ideal e-book?
Apparently GAM3R 7H30RY has made something of a splash in the media.
Here is an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education that includes an interview with Wark, interviews with some of the people responsible for GAM3R 7H30RY (how I hate typing that) at the Insitute for the Future of the Book, plus some quotes from our very own KF (!).
I've been writing quite a bit on GAM3R 7H30RY (caps lock seems to help) this weekend for my paper, so my head's sort of spinning with it--to the point that I'm not sure what I've read/written/seen blogged about... But one of the important aspects that the above article brings up is the future of online publishing. The author, Jeffrey Young, paraphrases Ben Vershbow (an IFB employee) saying: "the networked e-book is ideal for scholarly books, or any work dealing with big ideas that might be difficult for a lone author to tackle..." KF goes on to suggest a new model of online publishing, with peer review done by vetted scholars through the publisher.
I'm not sure if I know enough about current publishing to critique scholarly publishing as it is now or to really examine KF's proposal, but I am interested in this model of the e-book that Vershbow presents.
I guess I have been examining GAM3R 7H30RY as the perfect example of a networked book, but looking at Vershbow's definition, I am forced to concede that it might not best represent his ideal--it's a (fairly) short book on a (fairly) distinct idea. (Although like Lulu, I'm not sure that I care for Wark's style or even understand all of his arguments.) Further, GAM3R 7H30RY's setup definitely makes it abundantly clear that there is an author, and then there are commentators--there are the cards, and there are the commments, with the comments being lower on the hierarchy (I mean, they don't get color-coded, so it's obvious...;) ). Indeed, Vershbow appears to be suggesting collaboration on the level of co-authorship--not what is going on here with GAM3R 7H30RY at all.
I'm not sure if that's a good idea, either. While, I can't say that I have any idea what sort of topic is too big for one author (I have the instinct that if it's too big for one author, it's probably too big for one book, too--but be that as it may), I think we're already familiar with some of the potential problems with collaborative authorship. We discussed in class how co-authorship can destroy some of the sense of pride/responsibility/investment in a work. Wark has effectively avoided that--just look at the crazy comment war that goes with card 011 between Wark and Sal. Wark definitely takes some of these criticisms very personally--he's still invested in his work.
Indeed, in this article from the Christian Science Monitor, Wark admits that the biggest perk for him has been outsourcing grammar editing. While the comments have been in some sense helpful, it seems like Wark finds them to be more feedback than actual contributions--definitely not real collaboration. Wark has basically generated some editors, some feedback, maybe established a future audience--all to further his later, printed work.
So, I guess I have to revise my interpretation--it's not the ideal networked book after all.