Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Here we go

Hi everybody.  You're receiving this message because you have registered for LIS 875/910, "The Future of Print," on Mondays from 9am-11:30am in 4246 Helen C. White with Professor Greg Downey.  (That's me.)  Welcome!

First thing's first: We have a weblog that will serve as our class syllabus and discussion board and reading repository.  Visit it at -- and I will invite you all as "authors" immediately.  Look for an email from Google -- check your SPAM folder -- and be aware that you may need to create a Google ID in order to access the blog, since it is hosted by the Blogger service which is a Google property.  For a class like this I like to blog "in the wild" which means that your blog postings and comments WILL be visible to the outside world.  That's one of the newly ubiquitous parameters of much "digital print" today, and we need to engage with it in this class.  (So be nice.)

This class is an experiment and I hope you will help me with it.  I imagine three main components in our study of "the future of print":

(1) Lots of weekly readings, all of them accessible online as PDFs from a MyWebSpace folder at  You will need to enter your normal UW NetID and password in order to access the readings in this folder (for "Fair Use" purposes).  I've already uploaded the first batch of readings: a tour of various statements about the future of print through recent decades, from the 1940s to today.  Consider these all "primary sources" to whet your appetite and stimulate your thinking; we'll explore some more conceptual and theoretical tools to make sense of such sources later.  If you could read these by the time we meet on Monday, January 28, I'd appreciate it.  (Some of them are quite hilarious.)

(2) Intensive online and in-person discussion of those readings, with group note-taking and weekly follow-up searches for "next readings".  After the first week, I'll call on a different student to summarize/critique each reading on our blog before we meet in person to discuss.  I'll also call on another student to act as overall discussion leader for each week, coming up with a few questions that cut across all the readings.  And I'll call on yet another student to take detailed, hand-written (NOT typed) notes of the discussion, handed in to me so I can scan them in and uploading them as a reference.  Finally, after each session I'll call on a final student to do a 24-hour-turnaround "just in time" literature search to seek out some suggestions for further readings that we can mobilize the following week.  As you can see, through the mechanisms of online readings, blogging about the readings, digitizing hand-written notes on the discussion, and using online article archives for quick turnaround for new class readings, I plan to make our current print and digital textual environment and tools here at UW-Madison part of the course to be experienced and problematized.  (Tricky, I know.)

(3) A big group project to create both a static print and dynamic multimedia book on "the future of print."  We will be trained in the new-ish iBooks Author program for creating books on either iPads or in PDF format, and we will split up into three teams in order to produce this book: editorial (introduction, conclusion, contents, index, organization, proofing), design (visual layout, typography, colors, images, multimedia performance, look and feel), or technology (bringing all the components together and outputting in various formats, testing and quality control, custom HTML coding).  Those are perhaps imperfect and overlapping divisions, but again, problematizing the print/digital production process is part of the point of the class.  You'll each get to vote on what topics/themes our book will try to cover, and you'll each be expected to individually author various parts of the book, coming together in your three groups to pull it all together at the end.  And we'll present our findings to some interesting UW-Madison VIPs -- I have in mind the Chief Information Officer, the Director of UW Libraries, the Director of the UW Press, and the like.  (In a pinch, at least we can get the Director of SLIS.)  

This is a graduate-level seminar so grading will be based on quality of participation in all three of the tasks above, with both individual and group effort taken into account, both online and in-person.  I expect an enthusiastic and creative bunch of students, and if that happens, you can expect that grades will reflect your energy and initiative, especially since this is such an unusual experiment.  (I will bring more specifics on grading to the first class meeting.)  

I think that's it for now.  So here's what I need from you before our first class meeting on Monday:

(1) Get signed up with the blog once I invite you, and post a brief "Hello there" introduction (bonus points if you figure out how to upload a picture of yourself).  

(2) Click through to the readings repository, to download and read the selections I've posted.

(3) Finally, think about whether you'd like to serve on the editorial, design, or technology group for the iBooks Author project; I'll be asking you to declare a first and second choice on Monday.

I think that's it.  This will be fun, you will see.  And we will learn a lot together.




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  3. Hello Internet. I'm Andrew. I'm a PhD student in the Media and Cultural Studies program in the Dept. of Comm Arts. My research interests are in media history and discourses of "new" media, among other things. I look forward to meet you all next week.

  4. Hello! I'm Ben. I'm a PhD student in Political Science with a newspaper journalism background and an interest in studying how news media (particularly political reporting) is changing and how those changes are affecting American politics.

  5. HI there! I'm Mei Zhang, a third-year Ph.D. student in SLIS. I'm interested in the e-book industry, especially how vendors'/libraries' perception of e-book affects libraries' selection process of e-book packages.

  6. Love the Pynchon reference but Thompson Webb, yes, I am old enough to have known him. Microcards? Turns out the answer is no. Look forward to meeting everyone on Monday and showing "7 Days without Print".

  7. Hello everyone! My name is Tracy Boehm and I am a second year student at SLIS. Though my career goals revolve around technical services, traditional cataloging and metadata, my true passion lies with the difficulties single issue comics present in the realm of technical services. I am very interested in the future of print in regards to single issue comics as more title are moving to the digital realm, as more born-digial and digital first titles are released, and the combination of print and digital media with the release of Marvel's AR (Augmented Reality) digital integration of print comics.


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