This is an excerpt from a longer article I wrote on the 'Future of Publishing'. Many of the ideas I wrote about have inspired my own publishing efforts, so I thought it would be relevant to include this on my blog.
Linked with the notion of networked structures and creative commons is the idea that content will not be static but constantly edited and reshaped by multiple networks of users. The P2P Foundation (2015) embodies these ideas by creating a ‘wiki structure’ that promotes ‘peer-to-peer dynamics’ through open-sourced software, hacker-maker spaces and other initiatives that develop shared economies of resources. ‘Creative Commons’ and ‘Wikipedia’ are two examples of organisations that belong to the P2P Foundation and are transforming how content is generated and re-used.
Wikipedia, is the most prominent example of how a collaborative, networked structured encyclopaedia can become a major creator and aggregator of information. Wikipedia articles can be edited by anonymous users and the majority of Wikimedia content exists under the public domain. The wiki model provides an insight on how collaborative writing and editing can generate a lot of information in a relativity short time span.
Black (2008) proposes the Wikipedia model as a future alternative for the academic peer-review process. This theory is interesting as it challenges the traditional hierarchical nature of academic publishing and instead states that the peer-review model cannot keep pace with the fast development of new ideas (Black, 2008, p.74). A wiki structure would facilitate this rapid diffusion of ideas within a free and open environment, without credential bias. This is a controversial idea as Wikipedia is often criticised for its lack of reliable information and anonymous writers however as Black (2008) argues a collaborative network can very quickly transform into a reliable stream of information through a democratic approach to collating information.
A similar publishing platform to Wikipedia is ‘Citizdenium’ (http://en.citizendium.org/) a wiki-structure that mirrors Wikipedia however it is open to an expert review by editors and collaborators. All contributors to articles must provide their real name, thus creating a sense of responsibility. This type of publishing platform reveals a solution to the variability problems of Wikipedia and creates a compromise between the peer-review process and networked structures. Therefore, Citizdenium reveals a future direction publishing is heading towards where information can be delivered fast but also accurately through a collaborative model.
When considering the digital archiving of information, sites such as Wikipedia also reveal the tensions between static information and constant updating. An interesting feature of Wikipedia is the option to ‘create a book’ in either a physical format or as a PDF. This serves as a form of archive, where information suddenly becomes static. Although not a frequently used option, this type of archiving appeals to a niche audience, allowing anyone to aggregate and remix information for their own perusal.
Conversely, digital information cannot always be printed out and remain a reliable source. Metadata and social tagging have become increasingly significant in categorising information and tracked changes. Sites such as the Internet Archive’s ‘WayBack Machine’ show a snapshot of a webpage from the past. This is a more interactive form of archiving, where the user can select the specific data they need. The Internet Archive’s main site is also divided into collections of various forms of media and are searchable via creative commons licensing. This type of metadata is shaping how content is viewed and stored. In a society where archiving is prominent ranging from the hashtag to Facebook timeline, the publishing industry must accommodate these forms of metadata in order to create engaging forms of archiving for the future.