Saturday, February 2, 2013

Questions for Week Three

These questions, grouped by reading, address particular points raised by each of the four authors, but they end up encompassing similar issues, especially about the direction of historical research and the importance of capitalism. 

There are more than four in case some of them don't hold water very long.

  • What is the cultural logic behind the structure of the Anglo-American trade publishing industry? 
  • Is it necessary to separate, as Thompson does, the publishing mechanism from the overall concept of field within publishing?
  • How will the publisher (either the person or the entity) survive in the future print? Will Print-on-Demand technologies hinder or support the role of the publisher?
  • Striphas outlines two concerns brought about by electronic books: the disappearance of the permanent record and the increased power of intellectual property holders. Which concern do you feel are most relevant for your chosen field – as we can’t get at answers to what matters to “most people”?
  • Communication scholar James Carey extended a line of inquiry of John Dewey when he developed the transmission and ritual views of communication practice. Transmission is about knowledge whereas ritual is about experience. How do eReaders complicate both notions?
  • “E-books clearly have an important story to tell beyond their ability to reproduce the form and function of printed books,” writes Striphas. Do they actually succeed at either? Is that even the goal?
  • Darnton points out that the reader (that is, demand) side of the history of the book is the most difficult to trace. How will our increased digital engagement with texts complicate the task of knowing who read what?
  • Pawley expresses concern and caution over the historian and social scientist’s tendency to overgeneralize based on a small sample. Is it better to have incredibly detailed records about individuals or a scattering of data about a larger group of people, knowing that either case is flawed in terms of explaining the entire population?
  • The records that Pawley consults on the children of Osage and Wisconsin were physical documents (or microfilm versions). The records kept by libraries now (paranoia about improper use by the government aside) are digital and much more secure or more difficult to access. Does the future of print mean the end of historical research?

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