What’s the Point of the Academic Book? Part Three: Tim Hitchcock

The Project was invited to speak at the BSECS 45th Annual Conference, which took place on Thursday 7th January 2016 at the University of Oxford. The British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) is soon to launch its own book series, in association with Boydell & Brewer, and wanted to consult with its community on the form that this new series should take. Chaired by Professor Matthew Grenby (Newcastle), the provocatively-titled round table ‘What’s the Point of the Academic Book?’ included views from Project Research Associate Rebecca Lyons, Professor Tim Hitchcock (Sussex), and Mari Shullaw (Boydell & Brewer). The three views from each speaker will be posted in three parts – each perspective being published in its own blog post. The third and final part, given here, is Professor Tim Hitchcock’s. Part One, by Rebecca Lyons, is here: https://academicbookfuture.org/2016/01/25/the-point-of-the-academic-book-part-one/ and Part Two, by Mari Shullaw, is here: https://academicbookfuture.org/2016/01/26/the-point-of-the-academic-book-part-two/

Tim HitchcockTo my undying frustration I find myself wedded to a position that I suspect will be unpopular with this audience. Although I have published some dozen books over what increasingly feels like a rather over-long academic career – most recently a monograph, co-written with Robert Shoemaker, called London Lives : Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, I don’t much like them. As a technology of knowledge they strike me as both inefficient and outmoded – and as importantly, I think the technology has changed what books are, making them just too fast to be good scholarship.

Having said this, academic books in particular, were undoubtedly wonderful components of a complex technology of knowing – the greatest product of the Enlightenment. And they worked beautifully within that context. The first course I took as a first-year undergraduate in the mid-1970s was in Library Science – and that course introduced me to the beauty of that remarkable integrated system that was the ‘library’ – from union catalogues, to card catalogues, to concordances. And I spent the next twenty years working in libraries of precisely the same sort, reading books. And I gladly admit that traditional footnotes citing hard copy books and journals, work when read while sitting in a major reference library – with those volumes and journals readily to hand. Bibliographies too, worked just fine, when the sources used to substantiate a discussion were composed exclusively of the sorts of materials that could be encompassed within the Dewey Decimal system, or archival catalogue. And Indexes represented an intelligent manual approach to mapping the contents of a single body of text – a mental model (ideally written by the author to guide the eye of the reader) designed to make the text more usable. Chapters and ISBNs, prefaces, acknowledgements, appendices and all the clarity of a well-formed colophon – were a great technology of knowing.

And they worked within a traditional ecology of institutional knowledge creation and dissemination. Academics were (and are) paid by the state and their students, to write books, which are then published either by traditional non-profit university presses; or else by commercial presses whose services are built into a wider academic ecology. And the economics of the publication is then made credible by the investment of university libraries – who purchase ninety percent of the product. A merry-go-round of creation, production and consumption that has gone on its merry way for a couple of centuries; and did the job of making, recording and disseminating knowledge; and enacting the slow form conversation that went with it. And while this system was grossly elitist, highly gendered, inherently Western centric and institutionally racist – it nevertheless had and has many pleasures – some of which the attendees at this conference are here to enjoy.

And, of course, books are also beautiful things. The heft of a heavy tome in your hand; the smell of old leather, and uncut pages; the romance of engaging with knowledge in the same form as it was originally ‘published’, a hundred, or two hundred or five hundred years ago is a wonderful romantic experience – that anyone studying the past needs to have encountered. Like the journey in to the paper archive; reading a book with one hand or two, is a necessary part of knowing how the past worked.

But as a means of acting out and performing the all-important function of the academy – of generating deep knowledge as a background to modern civil society – I think academic books are a bit rubbish. In part they are rubbish because they don’t take advantage of the technologies around us to fulfil the purpose of academic writing more fully. And in part it is because the process of publication and production has in fact taken full advantage of those technologies.

Having said this, when I was originally invited to be on this panel, it was sold to me under the title and question of whether ‘the academic book has a future?’ And while I don’t like it or them very much, my conclusion is that yes, books do have a future. I think there is a continuing – though declining – demand for the technology needed to enact an older and traditional form of scholarship and intellectual authority.   And since books are deeply mired in our still thriving hierarchies of authority, they will remain. As long as books form the easy tick box on a REF assessment; while they stand out on your CV – evidence of seriousness of purpose, and justification for just one more sabbatical – they will remain. And in the process, their publication and sale back to the universities that paid to have them written in the first instance, will continue to provide profits to commercial publishers, and justifications for library budgets, and paid employment for all the people involved in the process of turning an argument in to an object – a hard copy book.

In other words, as long as the requirements of ‘authority’ demand the existence books to evidence the existence of ‘authors’ who can be safely given academic jobs, the ‘book’ – as distinct from long-form writing – has a future. Like neo-liberal capitalism, the greengrocer’s apostrophe, poverty and herpes, academic books definitely have a future. I just don’t think that this is a particularly good thing.

We all know the affordances that the World Wide Web has created. We all use it every day, and if we are honest with ourselves we all know that it has fundamentally changed how we perform scholarship and research; certainly how we write; and how we engage in academic conversations.

Most of us access and read journal articles as pdfs downloaded from Jstor. Most of us access 18th century printed material from Eighteenth-century Collections online, Google books, project Gutenberg or such. Even our primary manuscript research has been increasingly shaped by what is available online – whether that is the Newton Project, the Old Bailey Online, or the endless smaller projects that have sought to digitise the stuff of the dead.

And of course, how we work with text has also changed beyond recognition. All of us use the automated footnoting facility in Word, and most of us use one form or another of citation management, whether that is Nvivo, Zotero or Endnote. We now exchange ideas via Twitter, and generate camera ready copy with Word. And once written, we shunt the whole thing off to the publisher, who runs a quick and dirty bit of copy-editing – aided by an automated search and replace function – over the result, before bunging it into a standard design template, and generating an automated index, before Bob’s your uncle, you have a book, ready for the Autumn catalogue to go out to the 400 American research libraries whose budgets keep the whole financial edifice upright.   With the possible exception of hard copy proofs, there is unlikely to be a single physical artefact of a modern book, from inception to the moment it lands with a thud on your doormat.

And all of this is a problem in part because it is all a bit easy.

Up until the early 1990s, generating a book was a different kind of process. Before email, every revision and every exchange of views took weeks and months; and when all the process of turning manuscript in to print was embedded within a form of production that still marched to the rhythms of the hand press – with proofs and galleys and all the joys of the ink stained fingers – books were not just long-form writing, but a remarkably slow form as well.   Now, you can mimic the appearance of print with a few keystrokes. And the slow scholarship that was required no longer matters. In other words, the important thing about that old style process, producing that old style ‘book’, was that all the components of the system were tied to a single purpose, moving at a stately – ever so slow – pace.

And that pace was important. It meant that a book was a much more significant investment of time, than it has become. It required more hands, and more minds – from local librarian, to author, to editor, to copy-editor, to typesetter, to warehouseman. Each job done by hand; the privilege of publication was necessarily rationed. By contrast, we are now in a situation in which there are both many more books – getting on for one for every academic in the country, every six or seven years – and each one represents a substantially smaller investment of time and resource – both intellectual and financial. This has the benefit of giving voice to more individuals – though it should be noted that the retention of peer review, means those voices are still largely limited by class and race.

All of which is to simply say that academic books have if anything become an ever more important part of that wider academic ecology, which itself has become ever more demanding of book production. But that while the technology of creation – all the joys of Google Search, Word and the Adobe Suite – make these things much easier to publish, that does not mean that the product itself is any good. Or that they continue to serve that underlying function of performing that slow dance of scholarship and public engagement, of deep learning, leading to deep teaching, leading to a working civil society, that the academy, that Universities promise.

This seems to me a real shame. If instead of using the ‘affordances’ of the new technology to simply speed up and cheapen the monograph and academic book, we chose to do something new and different, that nevertheless supported that the underlying purpose of the academy, then we could still have long form writing, and deep thinking, without the ridiculous, Fordist – factory floor – world that has come to characterise the modern academy.

And I really just want to end with a suggestion. I want to suggest that instead of mooning over ‘books’, and worrying about whether the business model of the commercial presses will still be viable in a ten years, we work a bit harder at representing more truthfully the research process we all use.

I had a very interesting experience recently. In writing our last ‘book’, Bob Shoemaker and I deliberately chose to design and implement it as a thoroughgoing ebook. Every quote was linked to the original source, every footnote to the article, or ESTC entry cited; every graph to the underlying spreadsheet and data, and every cell in every spreadsheet to its source. We wrote the book collaboratively in a WIKI environment, and in the end it contained over 4000 hyperlinks. Building on the London Lives and Old Bailey websites, it was conceived and delivered to the publishers as a vertically integrated research archive and commentary that was designed to serve all the purposes of traditional scholarship. The publishers had contracted to deliver this ebook, but when it came to submission – when we delivered the manuscript in Mobi and Epub formats – with floating formats, and colour images – they turned around as said, that they could only accept a book in a flat Word format. In the end, after some two years, that book is now out – and though an e-version exists, there is no provision for libraries to buy it, and it looks and works like a slightly up-market pdf.

The reasons for my failure in this instance is a long story. But the point I want to make today is that it is entirely possible to represent modern scholarship in three dimensions – to capture that journey in to the literature, and Google Books, and online primary sources – and to create a ‘book’ that fully reflects that journey. Even if we believe that long-form writing is important (and I am in three minds), let’s make books that take advantage of the online, that serve the real function of footnotes, and stop making books that feel like the dead husks of a previous generation’s form of scholarship.

And along the way, let’s think again about the institutions that tie us ever more tightly in to this ever more demanding system of production for production’s sake – this increasingly Fordist dystopia of academic publication for the mere purpose of demonstrating productivity, over purpose.

I do believe the academic book has a future, and in my imagination a bright and positive one – as a graphic novel, and a Twitter stream, as a curated collection of blogs, or a string of comments and responses. I believe we can continue to think deeply and engage deeply, as long as we simply keep in mind the limitations of the technology, and the purpose of our thinking. I very much hope that academic book in its weird, flat, 19th century form is dying. Long live the book.

[Editor’s Note: For more on the alternative academic book, check out the Call for Content for BOOC (Book as Open Online Content) – an exciting new collaborative project between The Academic Book of the Future and UCL Press: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/ucl-press-news/call-for-content-booc]

A Storify of live tweets from the panel is available here: https://storify.com/AcBookFuture/what-is-the-point-of-the-academic-book

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Three hundred years of piracy: why academic books should be free

This is a repost from George Walkden’s personal blog about Open Access in the context of academic linguistics. The original post can be found here.

I think academic books should be free.

It’s not a radically new proposal, but I’d like to clarify what I mean by “free”. First, there’s the financial sense: books should be free in that there should be no cost to either the author or the reader. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, books should be free in terms of what the reader can do with them: copying, sharing, creating derivative works, and more.

I’m not going to go down the murky road of what exactly a modern academic book actually is. I’m just going to take it for granted that there is such a thing, and that it will continue to have a niche in the scholarly ecosystem of the future, even if it doesn’t have the pre-eminent role it has at present in some disciplines, or even the same form and structure. (For instance, I’d be pretty keen to see an academic monograph written in Choose Your Own Adventure style.)

Another thing I’ll be assuming is that technology does change things, even if we’re rather it didn’t. If you’re reluctant to accept that, I’d like to point you to what happened with yellow pages. Or take a look at the University of Manchester’s premier catering space, Christie’s Bistro. Formerly a science library, this imposing chamber retains its bookshelves, which are all packed full of books that have no conceivable use to man or beast: multi-volume indexes of mid-20th-century scientific periodicals, for instance. In this day and age, print is still very much alive, but at the same time the effects of technological change aren’t hard to spot.

With those assumptions in place, then, let’s move on to thinking about the academic book of the future. To do that I’m going to start with the academic book of the past, so let’s rewind time by three centuries. In 1710, the world’s first copyright law, the UK’sStatute of Anne, was passed. This law was a direct consequence of the introduction and spread of the printing press, and the businesses that had sprung up around it. Publishers such as the rapacious Andrew Millar had taken to seizing on texts that, even now, could hardly be argued to be anything other than public-domain: for instance,Livy’s History of Rome. (Titus Livius died in AD 17.) What’s more, they then claimed an exclusive right to publish such texts – a right that extended into perpetuity. This perpetual version of copyright was based on the philosopher John Locke’s theory of property as a natural right. Locke himself was fiercely opposed to this interpretation of his work, but that didn’t dissuade the publishers, who saw the opportunity to make a quick buck (as well as a slow one).

Fortunately, the idea of perpetual copyright was defeated in the courts in 1774, in the landmark Donaldson v. Becket case. It’s reared its ugly head since, of course, for instance when the US was preparing its 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act: it was mentioned that the musician Sonny Bono believed that copyright should last forever(see also this execrable New York Times op-ed). What’s interesting is that this proposal was challenged at the time, by Edinburgh-based publisher Alexander Donaldson – and, for his efforts to make knowledge more widely available, Donaldson was labelled a “pirate”. The term has survived, and is now used – for instance – to describe those scientists who try to access paywalled research articles using the hashtag #ICanHazPDF, and those scientists who help them. What these people have in common with the cannon-firing, hook-toting, parrot-bearing sailors of the seven seas is not particularly clear, but it’s clearly high time that the term was reclaimed.

If you’re interested in the 18th century and its copyright trials and tribulations, I’d encourage you to take a look at Yamada Shōji’s excellent 2012 book “Pirate” Publishing: the Battle over Perpetual Copyright in eighteenth-century Britain, which, appropriately, is available online under a CC-BY-NC-ND license. And lest you think that this is a Whiggish interpretation of history, let me point out that contemporaries saw things in exactly the same way. The political economist Adam Smith, in his seminal work The Wealth of Nations, pointed out that, before the invention of printing, the goal of an academic writer was simply “communicating to other people the curious and useful knowledge which he had acquired himself“. Printing changed things.

Let’s come back to the present. In the present, academic authors make almost nothing from their work: royalties from monographs are a pittance. Meanwhile, it’s an economic truism that each electronic copy made of a work – at a cost of essentially nothing – increases total societal wealth. (This is one of the reasons that intellectual property is not real property.) What academic authors want is readership and recognition: they aren’t after the money, and don’t, for the most part, care about sales. The bizarre part is that they’re punished for trying to increase wealth and readership by the very organizations that supposedly exist to help them increase wealth and readership. Elsevier, for instance, filed a complaint earlier this year against the knowledge sharing site Sci-Hub.org, demanding compensation. It beggars belief that they have the audacity to do this, especially given their insane 37% profit margin in 2014.

So we can see that publishers, when profit-motivated, have interests that run counter to those of academics themselves. And, when we look at the actions of eighteenth-century publishers such as Millar, we can see that this is nothing new. Where does this leave us for the future? Here’s a brief sketch:

  • Publishers should be mission-oriented, and that mission should be the transmission of knowledge.
  • Funding should come neither from authors nor from readers. There are a great many business models compatible with this.
  • Copyright should remain with the author: it’s the only way of preventing exploitation. In practice, this means a CC-BY license, or something like it. Certain humanities academics claim that CC-BY licenses allow plagiarism. This is nonsense.

How far are we down this road? Not far enough; but if you’re a linguist, take a look atLanguage Science Press, if you haven’t already.

In conclusion, then, for-profit publishers should be afraid. If they can’t do their job, then academics will. Libraries will. Mission-oriented publishers will. Pirates will.

It’s sometimes said that “information wants to be free”. This is false: information doesn’t have agency. But if we want information to be free, and take steps in that direction… well, it’s a start.


Note: this post is a written-up version of a talk I gave on 11th Nov 2015 at the John Rylands Library, as part of a debate on “Opening the Book: the Future of the Academic Monograph”. Thanks to the audience, organizers and other panel members for their feedback.

Audio-Visual Resources and Academic Books of the Future

Steven Dryden is a Sound & Vision, Reference & Technical Specialist at The British Library. The British Library is currently undertaking a major campaign called Save Our Sounds which offers the opportunity to question the connection between text, sound, and moving image in media-rich content research. In this post he invites researchers to take part in a survey on how they use audio-visual resources in their work.

ABFpictureStevenDryden

Steven Dryden

In early 2015 I was fortunate enough to catch Rebecca Lyons giving a presentation on The Academic Book of the Future Project. Aside from the fascinating debates about what constitutes ‘academic’, what constitutes a ‘book’, and what an ‘academic book’ might be in the current research landscape – I was struck by the potential applications of the project to the collection I am vested in at The British Library: sound.

The British Library sound archive is an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the early 19th century. If you were to listen to our entire collection back to back, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no holidays or breaks, it would take you over 140 years – plus the collection is growing daily! It is a unique research resource, comparable only to the Library of Congress sound collections in the USA. Find out more about our collection here

Sound recordings are the closest thing to time travel that we have as a research tool. Take for instance this audio clip of JRR Tolkien visiting a tobacco shop. We are instantly transported to 1929 when the recording was made, and it is easy to feel that you are being addressed directly. The time that has passed between then and now seems to vanish.

Listen to a conversation between Prof. A Lloyd James and J.R.R. Tolkien, recorded in July 1929: Early spoken word recordings – English Conversation: At the Tobacconist’s

The Save Our Sounds project

Many of the British Library’s recordings are under threat of disappearing as technologies change and some formats begin to naturally decay, and in response to this challenge the Library has launched a major campaign to digitise our historic sound collections.

As well as enabling us to future-proof our collections, the Save Our Sounds campaign is a unique opportunity for us to take stock of our role as audio heritage archivists, cataloguers, librarians, and collectors. Part of this includes considering access and the ways in which our collections are used by researchers. It is here, at the crossroads of research & engagement, that linking up with The Academic Book of the Future Project becomes very exciting.

At the moment, if an ‘academic text’ includes audio or visual resources, these tend to be included as DVDs, CDs, and perhaps even CD-ROMs (yes, they are still floating around out there!). As the technological landscape of the world changes, the ability to access and play CDs, DVDs and most definitely CD-ROMs will become increasingly limited. From the initial survey work that has been done for the Save Our Sound project, the main preservation concern is not that the recordings themselves are at risk of disappearing, but the obsolescence of the playback equipment.

So, how will audio-visual resources be included in academic books of the future?

In current and emerging contexts in which content is increasingly digitised and media-rich, how will the ability to incorporate audio-visual research directly into research outputs change the way in which these outputs are created, accessed, and referenced?

We hope that working with The Academic Book of the Future Project to address some of these questions will offer important insights into how researchers are using sound and moving image resources, and highlight common issues and concerns across disciplines.

If you are or have used sound and/or audio-visual materials for research please complete our short survey. (This survey will remain open until Easter). 

In due course a symposium/workshop will be arranged to discuss the findings of the survey. We are keen to encourage dialogue between publishing houses, app developers, and researchers. We hope the symposium/workshop will address and encourage ways of working together to fully explore the potential of audio-visual components in the academic book of the future.

Find out more about Save our Sounds at Save our Sounds, follow @BLSoundHeritage for live updates from our digitisation studio, @SoundArchive for tweets from the sound team, and use #SaveOurSounds to join the conversation on Twitter.

Specialist perspectives: the Project works with the Miltonists

The Project was recently invited to speak at the Eleventh International Milton Symposium (University of Exeter, 20-24 July) by Professor Thomas Corns. Prof. Corns is a member of the Project’s Advisory Board as well an eminent Milton scholar – he was recently awarded a British Academy Fellowship in recognition of his contribution to Milton studies – and is therefore ideally situated to channel (and provoke!) conversation between the Project and this group of specialist researchers. This post is a summary of the issues, thoughts, concerns, and ideas that arose during this session.

Thanks to @RichardACarter for live-tweeting the session! Credit: @RichardACarter

                    Thanks to @RichardACarter for live-tweeting the session! Credit: @RichardACarter

After a brief presentation from Rebecca Lyons to introduce the Project, outline its aims, summarise progress to date, and explain why the Project was at a symposium on Milton, Prof. Corns took over. He started off with a quotation:

‘The monograph is something that every academic wants to write, few academics want to read, and no academic wants to buy’, as a distinguished commissioning editor once provocatively remarked.

Prof. Corns then put into play the view that the monograph constitutes the ‘gold standard’ for arts and humanities scholars, a view that certainly shaped institutional thinking across the sector in preparation for the recent REF, but he asked: if very few people want to read these books, and even fewer are buying them – what is the rationale behind this status? Why is the monograph still supreme?

A member of the audience responded, considering disciplines besides those in the arts and humanities:

 

‘I frequently work with colleagues in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and when you ask them to read a book, they’re reluctant because they work in articles. I love the book, but insisting on the monograph as the gold standard keeps the arts and humanities segregated from these other areas, and therefore somewhat limited.’

 

The issue of ‘monograph vs journal article’ has cropped up fairly regularly in Project conversations with other stakeholder groups and communities, from a range of angles – including the idea of ‘thesis-by-articles’ as an alternative to the 80-100,000 word monograph that has hitherto been the standard model. There have been a variety of responses to this proposal, ranging from enthusiastic to the horrified, so this was a pertinent point.

Another participant offered an alternative response:

 

‘If we bow to pressure to exclusively publish articles rather than books, then we will lose what we do really well in the arts and humanities. Yes, we can write very good articles too, and yes, it is a very good idea to engage with our counterparts in science and engineering – but it is not necessary to give up the long form monograph in order to do these things.’

 

The conversation shifted slightly, considering the implications of monographs and journals, hard copy and digital, for libraries and their expenditure on research resources. A Miltonist working in the US stated:

 

‘There is a huge crisis in library funding. My institution’s library has been cut so far to the bone that we don’t even automatically buy books published by the big university presses anymore like we used to. More and more we are relying on digital resources. Articles provide a much more accessible and immediate resource.’

 

But again, there was an alternative view (from another US-based scholar):

 

‘We have the opposite situation – my institution’s library doesn’t automatically buy all books but will buy all books on reading lists made by academics. It does not, however, subscribe to all the online journals as this is too expensive for our budgets.’

 

He went on to make the point that some universities feel “walled out” by subscription prices combined with restricted budgets:

 

‘$100 for one academic book is still cheaper than a $1000 journal subscription that expires within a year. And at least you get to keep the book! Digital, online content is not this egalitarian utopia it’s sometimes made out to be.’

 

Another comment on this came from another scholar, citing the need to distinguish long-term and short-term consultation of material:

 

‘There are several examples of texts that I’d want to access for five minutes, just to check something, but only a few where I’d actually want to own them.’

 

The subject of available institutional funding for the purchase of books and subscriptions seemed to be a pivotal concern. The conversation continued with a suggestion:

 

‘How about the interlibrary loan of digital texts? It’s what happens with physical books – why not digital ones?’

 

Here the conversation turned to other digital matters – starting with Open Access (OA). One scholar condemned OA in no uncertain terms:

 

‘It is the spume of the devil.’

 

Others had questions:

 

‘At places like the British Library or Library of Congress is there, or will there be, an obligation for digital books to be made available, as physical ones are?’

 

Or concerns, about the present state of things:

 

‘Intellectual property is an issue: if one of your books is available digitally – what it to stop it being misused? Many of us have seen agreements violated, for instance, and PhD theses sold immediately, despite an embargo. The more we move into the digital, the more likely this is to be a problem. We must be aware of how our work makes it into the public sphere – it has become necessary to Google ourselves and check regularly what is out there.’

 

As well as the future:

 

‘In the 2020 REF monographs will be excluded from the obligation to be OA, whereas articles won’t be – what will be the implications of this?’

 

Other concerns centred upon business models:

 

‘I work for a journal and if we are made to open up our content for free then we will disappear.’

 

Or career issues:

 

‘If your thesis is OA then it can problematic to have it published. It becomes an issue of hiring and tenure. The American History Society advised all graduate students not to have their thesis as OA.’

 

There were also suggestions:

 

‘Could University Presses create a consortium to open books up for a small subscription fee, like Spotify for books?’

 

Here the conversation shifted to the authors and how the drive towards OA affects them:

 

‘Academics as authors are increasingly threatened by these forces – we need better rights to protect the authors.’

 

Another scholar also commented on these ‘forces’, using the analogy of airlines in the US that are conglomerating:

 

‘You get less and less choice for more and more money. I am worried that this is happening with publishing and platforms. In terms of authors and editors, our individuality and choice is being taken away.’

 

I couldn’t help but think of huge supermarkets here, where small organic groceries have sprung up in response. Or instances where people start to grow vegetables themselves instead. Will people publish themselves in the future?

Some attendees wondered about teaching in a digital world – how do students use books, create their own content, and what other content do they use such as the excellent Milton Reading Room hosted by Dartmouth College (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/contents/text.shtml). How is teaching going to be affected by these new books, materials, and new contexts?

 

One scholar commented:

 

‘I work at an institution that has a footprint in one place but also has commitments in education elsewhere (Palestine), so the digital content that we subscribe to has a great reach, and is really valued by these students who wouldn’t be able to access this content otherwise.’

 

Prof. Corns was forced to draw the conversation to a close due to time constraints, but it was clear that we had only just started to scratch the surface. One final closing comment from an attendee resonated, not only with the aims and scope of the Project, but with the rest of the scholars in the room, and probably beyond:

 

‘The questions and comments are all too small. This is not about the Future of the Academic Book. This is about the Future of the Humanities.’

 


 

Do these points resonate in your discipline?

Are there are others for you and your colleagues?

Do you vehemently disagree with any of the above?

Get in touch using the comments below!

 

Note: The views given above are not necessarily those of the Project or its partners, or Milton scholars en masse! The Project has attempted, insofar as possible, to accurately capture the views and opinions expressed at this event. All opinions and comments have been anonymised.