Open Access Publishing – Thanks to the U of Utah and Social Text
I will have a new article out next year in Social Text. I am very happy about this, because ST was a very important journal to me as I went through my doctoral program in cultural studies at George Mason. And of course, I eagerly watch my RSS reader for more articles. Moreover, I got to e-collaborate a bit with the editor, Jonathan Beller, who was really good at pushing me to improve the article through the revision process.
The article is titled “Real (software) abstractions: on the rise of Facebook and the fall of MySpace.” (You can see an early version of the article here). Here’s the abstract:
This paper argues that the failure of MySpace and the rise of Facebook in the social networking site market is due in part to the degrees in which either site associates users, technology, and marketers into a successful “real software abstraction.” Real software abstraction is a synthesis of the software engineering concept of abstraction and the Marxian concept of the real abstraction. This concept is used to examine MySpace and Facebook at the levels of aesthetics, code, culture, and appeal to marketers. I argue that instead of creating an architecture of abstraction in which users’ affect and content were easily reduced to marketer-friendly data sets, MySpace allowed users to create a cacophony of “pimped” profiles that undermined efforts to monetize user-generated content. In contrast, Facebook has proven to be extremely efficient at reducing users to commodifiable data sets within a muted, bland interface that does not detract from marketing efforts.
But most exciting to me is the fact that both Social Text and the librarians at The University of Utah have allowed me to publish this article open-access. No one will need a subscription to see it. Ever.
This was made possible first by the folks at Duke U Press, who agreed to publish the article open-access for a small fee. They had not done this before with Social Text (and possibly with no other journal). I am very grateful they did this.
Of course, the pace of academic publishing is slow – the article will be out next year some time. But, when it’s out, it will be free as in free beer. And I love that.
I hope this is something that Social Text offers on a permanent basis. I think it’s in keeping with that journal’s cultural studies mission. Cultural studies at its best is a world of activism and progressive social change. And making knowledge open access is a key part of improving humanity – science, scholarship, and education are better with greater access to information.
From → From the Journals