Syllabus 2014

PUB802: Technology and Evolving Forms of Publishing

Syllabus for Spring, 2014
Mondays, 1pm – 4pm & Wednesdays, 9:30am – 12:30pm
John Maxwell,


PUB802 asks the fundamental question: Will the publishing industry as we know it survive the digital revolution?

There are two kinds of answer to this question. The affirmative one leads to further questions about how publishers will adapt to a digital world; how will book and magazine publishing reorient, evolve, and/or hold ground in the face of a dominantly digital environment. The negative answer leads to further questions about what publishing might mean in the decades to come, who will be doing it, and what will be the critical dynamics involved.

PUB802 is more about ideas than about technologies. Digital technologies come and go quickly, far too quickly to devote a graduate seminar to mastering them. We try to think intead of technology as a stream or river running past. We are less interested in the individual waves and eddies than the larger geological structures that shape the river’s flow in a more durable sense.

PUB802 is a graduate seminar, but I like to think of the class as community of inquiry in which we collaboratively build a set of ideas and interpretations. That is, we collectively develop a shared culture of technology practice. You should expect to be challenged, and to express your position on topics and issues as they arise. Most importantly, you should expect to get opinions where you didn’t have them before, and to develop the ones you did have.

That said, there is no good thinking without making. PUB802 is about reading and writing and discussing, and it is also about craft. There is no writing in PUB802 without publishing online. PUB802 happens in room 3122, but it also happens in a number of online spaces: on (via both WordPress and wiki), in Twitter and whatever other social formats we come to inhabit. We will write, and publish, and also actively shape our writing and reading contexts…


Virginia Woolf. 1929. A Room of One’s Own. (several free e-text versions are available online)

Richard Nash. 2013. “What is the Business of Literature?” Virginia Quarterly Review. (

James Bridle. 2011 & 2012. “Seven Posts about the Future” ( and “Six Posts about the Present” (

O’Leary. Context First: A unified field theory of publishing. From Books in Browsers 2010. &


We will turn the rough outline below into a proper class schedule on the second day (Jan 8) via a card-sorting exercise. Please bring your preference of seminar topics so we can map people to dates.

All seminar materials, resources, and student writing will be posted to the course website ( and publicly accessible. Essays are to be posted to the WordPress blog on tkbr; seminar notes and technical reports posted to our wiki (at Most written work will be peer-reviewed online as well. We will endeavour to showcase student work periodically on as well.

Seminar presentations should rely on open technology wherever possible; no PowerPoint. Similarly, all written work is to be submitted online in open formats. Word is not an open nor a portable format. Don’t use it for that, ever.


Assessment is based on a combination of assignments, as follows. All work is to be posted online. Seminar schedule to be defined in class #2. There is no exam. Essay topics should be negotiated in advance.

60% – 3 essays (1000–1500 words) due Jan 29, Feb 26, Mar 26.
10% – 1 group technical investigation, documented on wiki.
20% – 2 seminars: one ‘theory,’ one ‘practice,’ slides/notes on wiki.
5% – Peer review of essays.
5% – Participation, online and in class.


These ideally all have to do with the business of MPub (esp publishing student work). In groups of two, students will take on an R & D project such as one of the following. The work can additionally be presented as one of the seminars. Due dates to be negotiated. The following are example projects:

  • typography for onscreen reading of extended text (e.g., essays)
  • typography for print
  • TKBR theming/styling
  • wiki theming/styling
  • mobile theming
  • database for tracking submissions, or circ, or such
  • spreadsheets and pivots – possibly VPL open data
  • bibliographic data mining
  • twitterbots
  • OPDS feed
  • regex workshop
  • API integration. (e.g., Biblioshare)


The following is a rough outline of the course’s coverage, in five parts. We will work out an actual schedule and detailed outline in a card-sorting exercise during session #2 on Wednesday, January 8th.

1. Publishing’s Post-Industrial Moment – Jan 13 to Jan 22

Publication and publics – post-industrial models – scarcity v abundance – fanfic and participatory culture

Jan 13 – Summer on Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends

Jan 15 – Alina on Scarcity vs. Abundance (Shirky)
Andrea on Alexis Madrigal’s “Day in the Life of a Digital Editor”
Rosie on Maria Popova & Brainpickings

Jan 20 – Amanda P on Fanfic,
Cass on Participatory Culture

Jan 22 – Emily on Imagined Communities

2. Network Realism – Jan 27 to Feb 19

History of the Net – structure the Web and the Internet – distributed systems – the link as rhetorical form – DH and ‘distant reading’ – Free and Open Source software – whither copyright?

Jan 27 – MICHAEL KOWALSKI of Padify

Jan 29 – ANNA VON VEH of Say Books
Tori on Carla Hesse’s “Rise of Intl. Property”

Feb 3 – Kaitlyn on History of the Net
Siobhan on The Electronic Labyrinth

Feb 5 – Brittany on Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence
Velma on Open Journal Systems
Diane on International/Digital Rights

Feb 10–14 Reading Break

Feb 17 – JOHN WILLINSKY of Stanford U on the deep roots of intellectual property

Feb 19 –  Shed on Network Realism
Amanda P on Link as Rhetorical Form

3. 21st Century Markets – Feb 24 to Mar 5

Rise of Google – True Scale of Amazon – Big Data – The Antigora – When is Good Enough? – Apple’s Store – the metadata problem

Feb 24 – LAURA DAWSON of Bowker

Feb 26 – Ria on Open Source Tools
Jesmine on Open Source Software
Til on the Antigora and network effects

Mar 3 – Alina on Amazon
Jesmine on Amazon
Mike on 21st century markets

Mar 5 – HAIG ARMEN of ECUAD on Interaction Design

4. Experience of Reading – Mar 10 to Mar 19

Content v Context – Durability v Ephemera – Immersive vs Interactive Reading – Email, Social Media, and the Stream paradigm – UX & IxD

Mar 10 – Brittany on Goodreads (& “Words with Friends”)
Emily on ‘waste culture’
Sydney on YouTube and Copyright (Stewart)
…PUB607 Launches

Mar 12 – Siobhan on “Post-Artifact Books” (CraigMod)
Rosie on The stream paradigm
Summer on User Experience Design

Mar 17 – Amanda S. on Context v Context
Kaitlyn on Context v Content

Mar 19 – Ria on Ephemera v durability
Tori on Ephemera v Durability
Amanda S on “Good enough”

5. Production Paradigms – Mar 24 to Apr 2

Goldfarb’s HARP Model – Text Processing Tradition – regex (see Galey 2010) – DTP vs ML – Print as a subset of the Web – DH: New Opportunities?

Mar 24 – HUGH McGUIRE of PressBooks on CSS-driven print production
Alex on the push for EPUB3

Mar 26 – Sydney on immersive reading
Cass on experience of reading
JMax on regex.

Mar 31 – Velma on Print Production
Mike on Production Paradigms
Diane on DITA

Apr 2 – Shed on ONIX to Web
Til on Big Data
Andrea on data mining

Final PUB607 presentations: April 9


On the Post-Industrial

Matthew Stadler. 2010. “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010. A

Michael Warner. 2002. “Publics and Counterpublics.” in Quarterly Journal of Speech. 88.4.

John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid. 1996. “The Social Life of Documents.” First Monday, 1(1).

Alexis Madrigal. 2013. “A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013” The Atlantic. March 6, 2013.

Maria Popova. 2013. “Keynote,” O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference. NYC, Feb 14, 2013.

Mary Meeker. 2013. “Internet Trends.” from D11 Conference Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

Douglas Rushkoff. 2010 “Chapter V: Scale” in Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. OR Books. ch 5

Clay Shirky. 2009. “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.”

Clay Shirky with Stephen Johnson. 2012. “How We Will Read: Clay Shirky.” Findings

Carla Hesse. 2002. “The Rise of Intellectual Property 700 BC–AD2010: An Idea in the Balance.” Daedelus Spring 2002.

James Boyle. 2008. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Yale University Press.

Yochai Benkler. 2006. “Introduction” to The Wealth of Networks. New Haven: Yale University Press. Available at

Yochai Benkler. 2002. “Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and The Nature of the Firm.” Yale Law Journal 112.

James Grimmelmann. 2013. “Two Fair Use Rulings, One Clear Message.” PWxyz.

Peter Brantley. 2013. “Google Books Eight Years Later…” Publishers Weekly.

Margaret Stewart. 2010. “How YouTube Thinks About Copyright.” Ted Talks.

John W Maxwell. 2014. “Resisting Enclosure: Licences, Authorship, and the Commons.” in Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online, Wershler-Henry & Coombe, eds.

On Emerging Models

Baldur Bjarnason. 2013. “Which Kind of Innovation?”

Peter Brantley. 2013. “The New Ones: The Only Horizon is Before Us.” PWxyz.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick. 2011. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. NYU Press.

Kristen Hilderman. 2011. “Life After Print: Revising the Editorial Strategy in Magazine Publishing.” MPub Project Report.

Lisa Namakura. 2013. “Words with Friends: Socially Networked Reading on Goodreads” PMLA 128 (1)

Nate Hoffelder. 2013. “There’s A Reason That No One in Publishing Bought Goodreads.” The Digital Reader.

Andrew Wallenstein & Todd Spangler. 2013. “Epic Fail: The Rise and Fall of Demand Media.” Variety.

Calls to Action

Brian O’Leary. 2013. “Disaggregating Supply.” Klopotek Publishers’ Forum 2013.

Hugh McGuire. 2013. “A Publisher’s Job Is to Provide a Good API for Books.” O’Reilly TOC.

James Bridle. 2013. “Hacking the Word.”

Peter Armstrong. 2011. “The Lean Publishing Manifesto.” LeanPub.

John W Maxwell. 2013. “EBook Logic: We Can Do Better” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada 51 (1).

On Production – Technical

Carolyn McNeillie, 2011. “An Introduction to HTML and CSS for EPUB” Ebound Canada.

Bert Bos. 2012. “starting with HTML + CSS”

Richard Ishida. 2012. “An Introduction to Writing Systems and UniCode.”

Alschuler, Liora. 1995. ABCD…SGML: A User’s Guide to Structured Information. International Thomson Computer Press. Boston.

Alan Liu. 2013. “From Reading to Social Computing” in Price & Siemens (ed.) Literary Studies in a Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology.

On Production – Conceptual

Baldur Bjarnason. 2013. “Great Text Transcends Nothing.” Studio Tendra.

Bill McCoy. 2013. “Why Publishers are Making a Push for EPUB3 Now.” DigitalBookWorld.

Craig Mod. 2013. “Subcompact Publishing.” @craigmod

Craig Mod. 2012. “Unbindings and Edges.” @craigmod

Craig Mod. 2011. “Post-Artifact Books & Publishing.” @craigmod

Aaron Miller. 2013. “Real Pages Are All About Flow.” Medium.

Liza Daly. 2013. “The UnXMLing of Books.” SafariFlow Blog.

John W Maxwell & Kathleen Fraser. 2010. “Traversing the Book of MPub: An Agile, Web-first Publishing Model.” Journal of Electronic Publishing. 13 (3).;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0013.303

Digital Methods

William J Turkel. 2013. “History 9877A: Digital Research Methods.”

Alan Liu. 2013. “Digital Humanities Resources for Student Project-Building.”

Stephen Ramsay. 2004. “Databases” in A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

Aaron Swartz. A Programmable Web Unfinished manuscript.

Alan Galey. 2013. “The Enkindling Reciter: E-Books in the Bibliographical Imagination,” Book History 15.

Alan Galey. 2010. “Mechanick Exercises: The Question of Technical Competence in Digital Scholarly Editing,” in Electronic Publishing: Politics and Pragmatics. ed. Gabriel Egan. Tempe, AZ: Iter/ACMRS. 81–102.

Keep, McLaughlin, & Parmar. 1995. The Electronic Labyrinth.

Peter Brantley. 2013. “The NSA’s Reading List.” PWxyz.

Eben Moglen. 2012. “Freedom of Thought Requires Free Media,” from re:publica 2012