Authorship and Journalism

This week much of our lecture looked at different aspects of journalism, both amateur and professional.


We considered particular works of HP Lovecraft and Michel Foucault, who respectively discussed at the quality of amateur journalism and who is an “author”. Both authors were considering the various aspects that went into authorship.


We also considered the idea that the audience becomes the author through ideas like spreadable media (eg films leading to dolls etc) and fan interaction. (Matthew Kirschenbaum, Henry Jenkins, Jay Rosen, & Clay Shirky)


During the second portion of the lecture we had a great talk from guest lecturer, Eliza Anyangwe (@elizatalks), who is a freelance editor from the Guardian.


Eliza focused on the moves from traditional journalism, where the interaction between newspapers and the readership was limited, to digital journalism, where there is more interaction between the newspaper and the readership. The impact of social media on journalism was discussed.


The Writing’s on the Wall

This week we continued our new LAPIS journey from where we ended in week one, considering the works of Walter Benjamin and his study of Bertolt Brecht and expanding to look at the work of the Dadaists. The main message from this was the interaction of the author and audience (Brecht’s palys) and the restructuring and reuse of materials and ideas to form new representations (Dadaists).

Part of the lecture was viewing a video made at the London Book Fair, which raised the point that publishing is no longer just about books, but encompassed wider ideas of publishing in the digital space (eg games, ebooks). All of the interviewees highlighted the same views that publishing is about trends and cycles.

We considered how the reproduction of technology affects the value (not just in monetary terms) of a work and that the canonization of the producer through the possibility of copies and adaptations promotes the importance of the original. Benjamin highlighted this.

We discussed the idea that Marshall McLuhan promoted in 1946 that “The medium is the message” and therefore the medium is meaningful. McLuhan also discussed the idea of hot and cool media and this demonstrates that idea that technology affects the way that we read – ie the importance of format to content.

We looked at a paper called “The woman who invented note paper” by TH Barrett. It examined the influence that a female Chinese poet, Xue Tao, had on the adaptation of existing paper (large in size) to fit the 28 character poems that she wrote. This led the class to consider the visual impact of books in affecting the choice of the book.

We finally looked at the idea of disruption in publishing, whether disruptive technology/innovation (where the process/event which is disruptive eventually leads to integration with technology – eg printing, and that this may not necessary be a negative disruption), the idea of disruption of the idea of ownership (who owns the content), and disruption of publishing through the “rental” of digital copies instead of physical copies (ebooks, digital music and films etc). We questioned whether this was the end of the viable physical form.

Who is an author?

As part of our first LAPIS lecture we were considering the basics concepts of who is an author, who is a publisher, and can they be one and the same.

We looked at an interesting address given in 1934 by Walter Benjamin called “The Author as Producer”. As a German citizen he was at the front line of the political situations building in Europe during the period. I took from this article the importance of the freedoms of authors to produce their own material at a time when limits were beginning to be placed on people’s freedoms – an issue that then developed over the next decade and culminated in war.

We also looked at some YouTube videos that showed how one view of publishing and books can be turned on its head – one example can be seen at

As a final thought in the lecture we considered what the future of publishing and books is and whether these changes are an end or a new beginning. For my part I would like to consider these changes as a new beginning for the publishing industry and consequently libraries. The opportunities for self-publishing using digital technology through blogs, Amazon self-publishing, iTunes books etc, all present new options for the spreading of thought.