Redefining the Publisher: Why We Need Our Gatekeepers

What is a publisher? There are many definitions, both online and off, specific to music, books, other media, and more generally speaking. In the Oxford English Dictionary a publisher is defined as, “a person who makes something generally known; a person who declares or proclaims something publicly”, [ref] “Publisher” Oxford English Dictionary Online.  January 26, 2014. [/ref] a definition with usage from 1453 through 1995. This is also a definition that is particularly pertinent to this discussion. More on that shortly, for there are also more nuanced definitions. Definitions that exist in a more ephemeral sense and that understand the term “publisher” in broader terms, connected to a reputation, whether like Harlequin or Del Rey as publishers of certain types of work, or like Penguin & Random House as big presses that publish and republish countless texts, or like small presses whose publics define them in a much more immediate way. In each case, the sense of “publisher” is one that involves an awareness of what to expect as a reader and has, therefore, an awareness of some kind of quality control. The OED definition of publisher above is one that does a wonderful job reflecting the commonly held notion of the digital age, that “everyone’s a publisher” in today’s networked landscape. However, it is lacking in the nuances and connotations that, I think make the need for a publisher even more important to the publics of the current landscape than ever before, a landscape that not only inhibits but seems to reject the very idea of the publisher. Take for example, Clay Shirky, who argues that, “Publishing is not evolving” and that, “Publishing is going away….[that] There’s a button that says ‘publish,’ and when you press it, it’s done.”[ref] Shirky, Clay. Qtd. in “How We Will Read: Clay Shirky” January 26th 2014. [/ref]
Continue reading “Redefining the Publisher: Why We Need Our Gatekeepers”

Undead Print Publishing: Layar and the Future of Augmented Reality

Zombies eat brains, so I am sure you, dear publisher, will be A-Okay during this time of the apocalypse. In this life of print after the declaration of its death, it is much too easy to get nostalgic and believe we are beginning another Renaissance in publishing. wow. much potential. very scared. It is my opinion that we, the publishers of tomorrow, should stop looking for (or God forbid, try to invent) “the next printing press.” Let us discard notions of square pegs trying to fit in round holes (does no one see anything Freudian about this phrase?) and instead, let’s take a stab at anticipating what our readers want from their future reading experiences, and just give it to them. Continue reading “Undead Print Publishing: Layar and the Future of Augmented Reality”

for the love of bot, end already!

My initial plan was to actually write the whole remix/adaptation/whatever you want to call it implied by the title of James Bridle’s “We Fell in Love in a Coded Space” presentation, with links going out from lyrics to other articles dealing with things like code in semiotics and expanding on the theory of code/space and other like things.

But I didn’t understand it well enough to actually do that, so I decided to just awkwardly reference a bunch of stuff at the beginning of my post and let you wade through them, or not, as you were inclined.

Job done.

Except for the point-making part, I mean. Continue reading “for the love of bot, end already!”

The Social Life of Links: Network Influence and the New Economy of Discourse

The Hyperlink, Contained

There was a time when “hypertext” was a thing that people talked about. It was a novel discursive adventure to create and explore documents with multiple access points. The form bred another term we rarely hear today: “hyperlink.” The word “link” no longer requires a qualifier. It is a fundamental part of our daily digital lives that has been imbued with cultural significance. Through a gradual evolution it has become an essential component of discourse on the web, taking on its own rhetorical function. In the social world of blogs and tumblogs (Kottke) a link signifies any number of things beyond a single author’s original intent.

Continue reading “The Social Life of Links: Network Influence and the New Economy of Discourse”

The Meaning of ‘Quality’

The imagined communities of FanFiction.Net don’t care what you think is good writing—they have their own stipulations for ‘quality’

Tori Elliott

Quality writing—it’s what all writers strive to produce and all editors hope to acquire.  It helps authors get published, compels readers to comment, and persuades juries to hand out awards. But what is ‘quality’? As a writer, I can tell you that there is no concrete answer to that question. Quality can be determined based on personal preference, popular opinion, or prescribed conditions. It is an elusive concept and, as John Maxwell has stated, it is entirely relative.

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Governing the Internet: Why Publishers Need Net Neutrality

Open access to the Internet presents a sense of online freedom for both users and content providers, but a recent legal ruling could mean the end of that. Since 2011, the FCC has adopted a set of Open Internet regulations to ensure fair access to all web content. However, in January 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit ruled against the regulations set forth by the FCC, creating a potential future where net neutrality will cease to exist (Roberts, 2014). Aside from the threat against net neutrality, one takeaway from this case is that the parameters for net neutrality need to be clearly and carefully expressed in order to ensure that the Internet remains a public democratic space. Though the ramifications of the 2014 ruling will not be immediate, an Internet without net neutrality means a damaging influence on how users and content providers, including publishers, engage with the online world. Continue reading “Governing the Internet: Why Publishers Need Net Neutrality”

Grumpy Cat: The Modern Achilles


How Memes are Actually Classical Tradition and How Publishers Are Killing Them Regardless


N.B. In the context of this essay, ‘meme’ refers specifically to internet memes and oral tradition refers specifically to that of the Ancient Greeks.

How could an unhappy looking cat be comparable to the greatest Greek hero? Achilles and Grumpy Cat are much more similar than they first appear. They come from traditions, Ancient Greek oral tradition and internet memes respectively, that are mirror images of each other.  Continue reading “Grumpy Cat: The Modern Achilles”

Transmedia Is the Wonderland of Opportunity: Exploring Transmedia Story Stream as a viable model in transmedia publishing

Transmedia storytelling is a term used to describe an interactive story that exists on multiple platforms. The narrative is complemented by a photo gallery, a game, a movie, or all of the above. Often transmedia storytelling includes community building and gamification. (As described by Technology Advice,  is the process of adding game mechanics to an activity to influence user behaviour.) The purpose of video, audio, and gaming elements is bring a story world to life. No longer are our imaginations the sole place we can explore these story worlds.

Continue reading “Transmedia Is the Wonderland of Opportunity: Exploring Transmedia Story Stream as a viable model in transmedia publishing”

What in the Word?: Why WordPress is Considered ‘the’ Content Management System

Everyone is expected to be an expert in the job market. If you’re an editor, you’re expected to have design skills. A finance aficionado? You’ll probably have to have some marketing skills. One skill that has become even more integral to every field is the ability to create, manipulate, and develop web content.

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The Future of Magazines is Digital Magazine

By Summer Zhang

At the D11 “All Things Digital” Conference held in 2013, Mary Meeker discussed in her presentation on internet trends how there are now 2.4 billion internet users around the world, with the total number continuing to grow at an 8% yearly rate. According to the latest “The survey of the American Consumer” from Gfk Group’s Mediamark Research & Intelligence, up to 80% of American consumers today are able to access the internet to read digital magazines with digital devices. Therefore, digital magazines are set to grow fast over the next several years in the magazine industry as publishers begin to enter the digital field.

Print still dominates the publishing industry, but digital is catching up, and fast. Compared to conventionally printed magazines, digital magazines provide more opportunities for publishers to innovate their product. The digital reading experience can include sound and video in addition to text, which better fits contemporary readers’ way of engaging with media. Consumers can easily gain access to digital magazines through a variety of digital platforms. So magazine publishers can take advantage of digital technologies to make their products more informative and aesthetically pleasing to attract more consumers.

Printed magazines still maintain a large audience, but according to a survey in “Publishing Futures 2013: At a glance” undertaken by the Professional Publishers Association, digital magazines now make up roughly 32% of the market share. Sales of digital magazines have been increasing each year, and this trend appears set to continue well into the future. According to a survey by Inmobi, 72% of tablet owners make purchases from their devices on a weekly basis. Thus, publishers today simply have to include digital media as part of their marketing strategy. Print magazines, however, while continuing to dominate sales at the present time, are under pressure due to falling advertising revenue. According to a study by the Association of Magazine Media and Kantar Media, the number of ads purchased in 2013 for iPad editions of magazines rose 16%, and according to the Pew Research Center, digital ads now make up roughly 6.6% of overall magazine revenue. According to figures from Adobe, whose digital publishing suite powers around 80% of all digital magazine editions currently in circulation, the total number of digital magazines downloaded every week increased from 300,000 per week in 2011 to a staggering 2 million per week by the end of 2013.

Many publishers have recognized this digital transformation and are adjusting their production processes to capitalize on the benefits of digital editions: digital magazines open up new advertising models with the potential for greater impact on consumers, marketing departments are able to share their magazines with a wider audience through social media channels, and readers can have access to videos, which adds a new dynamic to the consumer reading experience.


Named the best tablet magazine in 2013 by the National Magazine Awards, the digital edition of National Geographic is one example of great success in the digital magazine field. The magazine offers in-depth reporting, world-class photography, a beautiful design, smooth navigation, immersive interactivity, social media integration, and engaging motion graphics. National Geographic successfully attracts a large number of consumers by providing them with opportunities to read, play, and share content through online networks. According to National Geographic CEO John Fahey, the magazine had 181,000 subscribers in 2012, a number which has continued to grow over the past two years.

A survey in “Online Publishers Association Study Reveals Attitudes of Today’s Tablet User” found that 61% of tablet users purchase some form of digital content, and that tablet users pay for magazines more often than any other content.


Compared to print magazines, digital magazines offer the same layouts, content, and advertisements. ComScore Inc., a leader in measuring the digital publishing world’s performance, found that two in five US tablet owners read magazines on their device, and that 40% of tablet owners regularly read magazines on their devices. According to GFK MRI, digital audiences grew from 9.2 million in 2012 to 16.9 million in 2013, representing an 83% increase within a year’s duration. (The new Mediamark Research & Intelligence report is the first of its kind to compare digital readership, including tablet and replica editions [though not magazine websites], over a year-long period). In addition, according to The Alliance for Audited Media’s report on US digital magazine subscriptions, digital magazine circulation doubled from 2012 to 2013.

With unlimited pages and more room for extras, the tablet is every publisher’s dream. Tablets save a large amount of time for both publishers and consumers. Instead of waiting out a long delivery process, readers can gain access to issues as soon as they pay for their subscription. Also gone are the obstacles involved in obtaining old editions of magazines, and consumers can enjoy magazines at anytime, anywhere if they have a digital device, without the hassle of carrying multiple print versions around. In our era of social media, digital magazines also allow readers to share content immediately at the click of a button, which is a convenient way to enhance communication between readers, and consumers can access advertisers’ sites by simply clicking a link, which benefits both publishers and advertisers. Readers can perform keyword searches on digital magazines to find a topic they are interested in within seconds. Lastly, as they are paperless, digital magazines reduce costs for publishers and save environmental resources.

I believe there to be three reasons why digital magazines will thrive in the near future. First, we now live in a digital world in which internet usage is growing rapidly on a daily basis. According to Mary Meeker, mobile usage is also growing rapidly. More and more people are choosing to read on their tablet or mobile rather than purchase a traditional print magazine. Many individuals today have grown up with the internet and are thus more used to interacting via social networks and engaging media through technology. Second, more and more technology and online tools are making it possible to publish multi-platform magazines in an easy and relatively cheaper way. There are no printing costs for digital magazines. According to Lormer’s research on the magazine industry in British Colombia, digital magazines will save the industry 43% of its average expenditures in total. Third, data online can be accessed anywhere.

Therefore, in order for magazines to survive and grow, they must become a part of the digital sphere, where today’s consumer spends a large amount of time. People today commonly expect digital editions of print magazines to be offered. Successful magazines must return to their roots of offering more to enhance their readers’ lives. In the future, as magazines continue to steadily transition into digital formats, digital magazines will no doubt take precedence over print magazines in the magazine industry.

1. Mary, M and Liang W, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers Internet Trends Report, 2013

2. GfK MRI(Gfk Group’s Mediamark Research & Intelligence)’s Survey of the American Consumer® is the industry standard for magazine audience ratings in the U.S. and is used in the majority of media and marketing plans in the country.

3. Publishing Futures 2013: At a glance, Professional Publishers Association Publishing Futures

4. Global mobile media consumption reaching millennials, Inmobi

5. Tablet Magazine Advertising Insights, Association of Magazine Media and Kantar Media

6. Publishing Futures 2013: At a glance

7. Online Publishers Association Study Reveals Attitudes of Today’s Tablet User

8. 2013 National Magazine Awards

9. Online Publishers Association Study Reveals Attitudes of Today’s Tablet User

10. The Impact of Connected Devices on Consumer Behavior, ComScore Inc

11. Interview from National Geographic CEO John Fahey

12.  Lormer’s research on the magazine industry in British Colombia

Country Mouse Don’t Need No Web Cheddar: Why Local Rural Print Newspapers Are Survivors

Print is dying. Newspapers are dead. The world has gone digital. This is what Internet intellectuals like Clay Shirky believe. Essentially, they believe that everyone should face the facts, embrace the digital age, and stop hoping that print will survive. But what about the print that continues to survive? That continues to thrive? Print that either ignores digital advancements or only embraces them half-heartedly. Shirky is only correct in saying the unthinkable (that newspapers are dead) when it comes to publications that cater to tech-savvy urbanites who access media using various non-print platforms; people who may want the local news, but who get it easily from their online sources. These newspapers are hoping that digital facelifts will be enough to compete in the age of the net.

But local rural newspapers don’t yet have to face this threat, and may be immune for years to come. In the modern age, when people are turning to the web for their news, and urban print newspapers are dying, local rural newspapers are still proving viable. This is the case for a few reasons: people are inherently more interested in news that directly affects them, and want that inside, credible scoop; local rural newspapers that have launched digital platforms have been met with a lukewarm response; rural populations are largely people over the age of fifty who are not all willing to consume information from the web; and print newspapers continue to be filled with advertisements. Continue reading “Country Mouse Don’t Need No Web Cheddar: Why Local Rural Print Newspapers Are Survivors”

Read it later: long-form journalism on mobile devices

By Kaitlyn Till

Long-form journalism and creative non-fiction, a staple of print magazines and newspapers, have been assumed to lead a challenging existence on the web. Competing for the attention of readers and lacking the visual cues offered by the page layout of a physical magazine, the long-form article is fighting an uphill battle—or is it? A 1,500+ word piece can seem like an eternal scroll on the smartphone but, according to web publishers, people are reading them.

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There’s a whole Web out there

“Hello world!” These two words are often the first to be published on a new blog – its automatic birth cry after being launched, if you so will – to familiarize first-time users with posting, commenting, and making one’s message public.

Funny as this hello to the unknown depths of the Internet may sound, the meaning behind it is real: it has never been simpler to enter the online publishing game and, in theory, anybody with unrestricted access to the Web can view any page – it is just a matter of finding it. In the reality of the attention-driven business that is online publishing, the way the Internet is mapped and presented by search engines determines what is likely to be found and what is not, posing challenges to content creators and readers alike.

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Reversing Copyright: An Alternative Model

Once upon a time, the concept of copyright was created as a method of controlling the rights of printers and publishers. It was a means of maintaining competition by regulating the right to copy a printed work. On the internet, though, “every act is an act of copying.” (Maxwell, 2014) Copyright thus extended its reach to practically every use of intellectual property, avoiding only those uses deemed “fair” under fair dealings (Canada) or fair use (US) provisions. Suddenly, “uses that before were presumptively unregulated are now presumptively regulated.” (Lessig, 2004) Continue reading “Reversing Copyright: An Alternative Model”