‘It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves—the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public—has stopped being a problem.’ (Clay Shirky) Are digital and networked media dismantling the “publishing industry”? Is it being replaced? If so, what is replacing it? If not, what is the publishing industry becoming, and how is it doing so? Are there new difficulties and complexities or expenses involved?

During the passage of time, humanity has gone from verbal story telling, to printed works, and finally, in an era over-run with technology, the transfer of printed works to the digital sphere. While there is overwhelming support for a move considered to be efficient and prospective, one must consider whether the timeless concept of print publishing has been overshadowed by a generation addicted to technology. Before attempting to answer the question of whether the publishing industry is being replaced, the definition of what publishing actually entails needs to be considered. According to Wikipedia (a publishing platform itself), publishing is ‘the activity of making information available to the general public.’ Prior to the digital age, this referred to the distribution of print material, such as books and newspapers; however the extent of publishing has now broadened to include electronic resources, such as e-books, blogs, and more. With these new digital forms of publishing, there are arguments being made that the publishing industry in its traditional form is no longer operative or relevant. However, although the industry is undoubtedly transforming, it is by no means being replaced – conversely, it is expanding to accommodate for the ‘dissemination of information in all possible venues’ (Schisler 2014). In order to support this claim, I will focus on the specific example of newspaper publishing, and how digital and networked media is transforming the industry by enhancing it.


As Schisler writes, ‘publishing has become more democratic and less aristocratic: it is not in the hands of a few decision makers anymore’. When looking at the newspaper industry, the source of profits – originally primarily advertisements – is undoubtedly changing. There is no longer a need for companies to utilise newspaper advertising to make their services visible. Nonetheless, as Satell (2014) argues, the reason why publishing businesses, including newspaper ones, continue to run, is because they’re ‘selling a product that people want and need. As long as people want to be informed, entertained, and inspired, there will be profitable opportunities in publishing.’ Ironically, although digital media is seen to be the primary reason for the diminution of the publishing industry, it is one of the ways in which such opportunities arise – primarily through the ability of infrastructural globalism. For example, British newspaper The Daily Mail started as a broadsheet newspaper circulating only nationally, but by expanding to an online platform has developed into one of the biggest newspaper websites in the world, with pages designed specifically for Australia, the US and even a specific section for women. This is just one example that demonstrates the way in which the print industry is being enhanced – the Daily Mail has not stopped distributing its papers, but has now also reached a global audience and thus legitimised its status as a viable corporation. The ‘aristocracy’ is being abrogated by breaking down the obstacles that once needed to be overcome.


However, one of the main concerns that digital media raises – unseen when media such as radio and television were introduced – is the power of user-generated content, creating a commons through practices such as j-blogging and podcasting. Although this is, as previously mentioned, beneficial in shifting from an aristocratic to a democratic form of publishing, it means there are new difficulties and expenses that need to be considered. Pattabhiramaiah et al. (2014, p. 14) comment that the increasing availability of alternative sources of news, especially free content provided on newspaper websites and by news aggregators (e.g. Google) has made paying for the print newspaper less attractive to readers. Consumers are now changing from passive to active participants of content creation and distribution, in turn raising new challenges for the once hierarchal publishing industry. Therefore, in one sense, as digital and networked media increasingly affect the future of the publishing industry, there will be decreases in profits made from advertising and sales. However, on the other hand, going online means that it is still possible to generate profits through paywalls, subscriptions and other content barriers, while massively reducing the cost of printing and distribution. Further, by utilising the power of user-generated content and integrating into their content, the publishing industry and particularly the newspaper industry can prove to have a beneficial outcome. However, although all of these changes will likely lead to a decrease in the total profitability of publishers, it is certainly not dismantling the publishing industry – the industry just needs to find effective ways to adjust to these technological changes. As Critchlow highlights, ‘the printing and publishing industry is undergoing technological change characterised by increasing employment, rising production, growing capital investment, intensified research and development, predomination of small firms, and strong craft unions’ (p. 3). Focusing on the example of The Wall Street Journal as their case study, Johnson and Gutierrez (2010, p. 70) argue that publishing companies can avoid the destruction of the ‘old business model’ by continuously identifying, investing and creating new resources. The introduction of the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (the ‘Interactive Journal’), has led the company to have a profitable e-business model that effectively complements its printed works. This is just one example of how the publishing industry can and have the ability to transform to better adapt to the changing nature of content dissemination.


Another way in which the publishing industry is transforming, but certainly not dying, is through long-form content. Hyrkin (2014) states: ‘long-form content is experiencing a resurgence thanks to new technologies that create new monetization opportunities for the publishers.’ For example, Palmer and Eriksen (1999, p. 33) argue that digital newspapers can replicate traditional print papers, but additionally offer ‘multimedia content tailored to the individual consumer in a manner radically different from that of traditional newspapers’ (p. 34). They further note that the industry is driven by three key elements: content, delivery and advertising. This means that the publishing industry, by moving to a networked age, is transferring emphasis from delivery to focus on how content can be created and framed to target individuals. This is directly related to the notion of economy of attention; that is that the flow of attention anticipates the flow of money (Goldhaber 1997). Although technology is now dictating where readers’ attention – or lack thereof – lies, the newspaper industry is transforming to adapt to this by utilising and integrating various forms of publishing to create a more interactive and attentions-based economy. There is now the possibility of including a better design, videos, multiple images and external links to stories, without having to work around restrictions of space, deadlines or localised audiences. Palmer and Erikson (1999, p. 37-38) state that ‘the convergence of audio and video forms has the potential to generate substantially different products from the text and photographs of the paper version and to stimulate increased consumer interest’. Further, having this form of digital data enables information to be more easily ‘stored, accessed, manipulated, consolidated and transmitted’ (p. 36).


As a consequence of these new forms of data manipulation that the publishing and newspaper industry can now utilise, the way in which archives are formed is also transforming. Archive fever, as Derrida (1995) states, involves determining what is inside and outside our culture. His discussion revolves around the impact of electronic media and the threat it produces to transform both public and private space. Shirky (2009) notes that the ‘organisational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data’. As previously mentioned, the changing nature of data retention in the publishing industry is resulting in the publishing industry becoming more online-based, with now both the creation and dissemination of data being done digitally. Therefore, Shirky’s statement that ‘the core problem publishing solves—the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public—has stopped being a problem’ is true to the extent that this public collection of information has moved online and thus is easier, cheaper and simpler to maintain. However, this does not make the publishing industry irrelevant: taking the example of newspapers once again, companies are now able to publish material digitally that is able to be searched, saved, and archived online. Palmer and Eriksen’s research found that over 80% of newspapers maintain archives, with many digital newspapers continuously expanding their archives, while others may only keep material for a limited period of time. Some newspapers (10% in their research) even charge readers for access to the archive through charging per article, per time session, or periodic use. This effect of archiving on the publishing industry is important in that it changes the nature of how content is not only created but also retained, something that was not a practical possibility before the digital era.


Convergence is yet another factor in determining whether the publishing, and particularly the newspaper industry is being dismantled by digital media. Lawson-Borders (2009, p. 92) defines convergence as the blending of old media, (e.g. traditional media) with new media (computers and the Internet) to deliver content. Despite Shirky’s contention that there is no longer any reason to have regard for the publishing industry, as they no longer have a practical function, convergence has proved to be a benefit for publishers to extend their reach. This is due to the fact that ‘changing demographics and competing messages have made the Internet particularly attractive to traditional print and broadcast media who have sought to protect brand name and their historical specialty of gathering and disseminating news, information, and entertainment’ (Lawson-Borders 2009, p. 91). For example, Sydney Morning Herald launched their online website in 1995, but simultaneously built a printing press to accommodate for wider and faster circulation of their print papers. This demonstrates that digital and print media do not have to be mutually exclusive, and although new media is becoming the dominant publishing platform, through convergence print media and the publishing industry are still relevant today. Nonetheless, the publishing industry is becoming a web of cross-promotion that still needs to find an effective way to sustain profits through new and technological means. Gilbert and Ure note: ‘too many newspapers are focused on where their online and print businesses overlap and are not capturing all the growth opportunities created by disruption’ (2005, p. 6).

The transforming nature of the publishing industry is not a new phenomena – in fact, and particularly in relation to newspapers, the industry has been in a constant transformative state. Even as early as 1945, it has been argued that ‘the number of daily newspapers have declined rather persistently… and have been siphoned off by competing media’ (Kinter 1945, p. 43). Thus, there has been and always be different forms of emerging media that will challenge the validity of the publishing – particularly the newspaper – industry. Thus, the industry is not dismantling: there is merely a shift in focus. Whereas previously, digital material complemented print material, now it is vice versa. So what can publishers do to take advantage of this? Some recommendations include: subscription fees, enhancing distribution channels, customised product development, charging for access to archives, and becoming a market-maker (Palmer and Eriksen 1999, p. 39). The future of content undeniably lies online, however, print material is still alive and breathing to supplement it. As Satell (2014) succinctly states:

There is no intrinsic problem with publishing. There is still enormous value in uncovering stories and telling them well. That publishers need to innovate their business models just puts them in the same place as every other industry.

Word count: 1923


Critchlow, R 1970, ‘Technological changes in the printing and publishing industry’, Monthly Labor Review, Vol. 93, No. 8, Bureau of Statistics, US Department of Labor, pp 3-9.

Derrida, J & Prenowitz E 1995, ‘Archive fever: A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics, Vol. 25, No. 2, The John Hopkins University Press, pp. 9-63.

Gilbert, C & Ure, G 2005, ‘Reading Disruption’s Fine Print,’ Harvard Business Review.

Goldhaber. M 1997, ‘Attention Shoppers!’, Wired, accessed 4 November 2014 <;

Hyrkin, J 2014, ‘The publishing industry isn’t dead – but it is evolving’, The Next Web, accessed 1 November 2014 <;

Johnson, R & Gutierrez, A 2010, ‘Reinventing the business model of the newspaper industry: electronic business models and the newspaper industry – The Wall Street Journal as case study’, MBA Master’s Thesis, Blekinge Institute of Technology School of Management.

Kinter, C 1945, ‘The Changing Pattern of the Newspaper Publishing Industry’, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 43-63.

Lawson-Borders, G 2009, ‘Integrating new media and old media: Seven observations of convergence as a strategy for best practices in media organizations’, International Journal on Media Management, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 91-99.

Palmer, J & Eriksen, L 1999, ‘Digital newspapers explore marketing on the Internet’, Communications of the ACM Magazine, Vol. 42 No. 9, ACM, NY pp. 32-40.

Pattabhiramaiah, A, Sriram, S & Sridhar, S 2014, ‘Rising Prices under Declining Preferences: The case of the U.S.Print Newspaper Industry’, Marketing Science Institute, pp. 14-105.

‘Publishing’, Wikipedia, accessed 30 October 2014 <;

Schisler, M, ‘The Future of Publishing – Introduction, What is Publishing?, Publishing and Photography, A More Democratic Publishing Network, Changes in Printing’, accessed 1 November 2014, <;

Satell, G 2014, ‘Publishing is Not Dying’, Harvard Business Review, accessed 3 November 2014 <;

Shirky, C 2009, ‘Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable’,, accessed 20 October 2014 <;

‘To survive online, newspapers are seeking a worldwide audience’, 17 March 2012, The Economist, accessed 2 November 2014 <;


Culture and Data

For this post I will use the following visualisation to discuss data friction and infrastructural globalism:

Background/ability for manipulation/variation

This is a human immunodeficiency virus model which utilises the help of more than 100 leading science journals, X-rays, and graphics nerds to create a 3D visualisation of a HIV particle. It aggregates information into one visual representation that transforms according to the medium in which it is redistributed. For example, here there are a set of high definition photos of the 3D model, and here is an interactive 360 degree version. Further, the creators of the model have stated that it can also be used on ‘posters, animations and interactive applications for web and mobile platforms’.

Impacts/relation to infrastructural globalism

There are a number of impacts that this visualisation will produce. Although creator Ivan Konstantinov plans to use it in schools and to popularise science research for the moment, it will inevitably affect future medical research into understanding the HIV virus, as the article notes. This is essentially making local data global and widely available.

Edwards defines infrastructural globalism, relating to meteorological terms, as ‘how the building of technical systems for gathering global data helps to create global institutions and ways of thinking globally’. In regards to the creation of a HIV particle visualisation, the invention of new software and algorithms developed by the creators, as well as featuring on the ‘cover of Nature Medicine in September 2010, as part of a special issue prepared by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise’, has allowed for innovative global ways of thinking about what we might consider old or known information.

Involvement of data friction 

As Edwards states with his focus on climate change, tracing the history of efforts to gather weather and climate records for the whole planet is called making global data, whereas the effort that is involved is data friction. Similarly, here the creators of this visualisation went to to the effort of obtaining information from hundreds of sources to create on single model of a HIV particle. However, as Edwards further notes, “historians continually discover previously unknown documents, letters, drawings, photos, artefacts, and other kinds of evidence that reveal new aspects even of history’s best-known episodes”. As the archive of information surrounding the virus is ever-expanding, there will always be new information that becomes available, shaped by our ‘changing perspectives of the past’, that impacts how we recreate data. This demonstrates the significant impact data friction has on our perceptions and views on reality.


Edwards, Paul N. (2010) ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: xiii-xvii

Distribution and aggregation: its relevance in our world today

It is abundantly clear that the introduction of new media and a digital culture has broken down barriers to many forms of distribution and aggregation. Not only does this apply to stand alone devices such as computers and mobiles as Andrew notes, but also includes how our distribution and aggregation within the social and the public sphere.

Hubert Guillaud, writing a reflection of Danah Boyd’s “Flow of Information through New Media Speech“, discusses how historically forms of distribution were much simpler but also much more highly regulated, with the power lying in “those who control the channels of distribution”. However as we all know and he notes these structures are rapidly collapsing, with participants (actors) of the digital network now holding that power.

John Salvo notes that moving from an Information Age to a Systems Age involves “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision… the separation between leaders and followers will cease to exist, as the internet democratizes the planet and good information becomes ubiquitous”.

However Boyd makes a good point here – she notes that just because WE now have the power to dictate what is distributed within the public sphere, that does not mean that attention is divided equally. In fact, as I’ve noted in previous blog posts, I’d take it one step further and say in a way attention is even harder to maintain now than maybe 50 years ago. This is because not only do users prefer fast bursts of information, but this explosion in the amount of “publishers” means that it is harder to get your voice heard. Obviously easier access to distribution and the destructuring of mediators makes getting it out there easier, but that’s not equivalent to being heard.

Another point which relates to this that Guillaud discusses through Boyd’s speech is that we choose content that stimulates us, not necessarily content that is informative. She notes the example of Facebook, saying it gives rise to parasocial relations: “on Facebook, you can turn your friends into celebrities, without actually gaining the benefits of social intimacy and bonding.” I think to an extent this is definitely true. For example, I have about 1,100 friends on Facebook, but if I had to count how many I interact with personally and physically regularly it would be about a tenth of that number. Regardless, how I publish and distribute data is affected by all of these 1,100 friends. I think this demonstrates Boyd’s point – that sense of connection that was there before has diminished to an extent. It becomes a way of representing one’s public image, rather than actually building a connective network. Boyd in her blog stated that during her presentation, having tweets projected on the big screen meant that she lost connection with her listeners, who became more invested in their communication with themselves.

Therefore, as Andrew notes, aggregation and distribution are forms of expression; ways of personalisation. YOU dictate your world by choosing what, with whom, and how you engage both digitally and physically. These forms of content/expression then turn into your experience, which you later archive. And this is the neverending circle of publishing!

Visualisation in practice

My last blog post discussed visualisation and its effects, and to complement this here is a visualisation created by Mary, Carrie, Pae and myself:


This is a screenshot of an interactive map highlighting the prevalence of melanoma in Australia compared to other continents. The impact of visualising this data is hopefully to create a persuasive approach in that viewers of the map will have a greater apprehension of the depth of the problem in Australia and be sure to protect themselves from overexposure in the future.

Visualisation: its ups and downs (graphics-wise)

There are multiple, and vastly different, contexts in which visualisation and transparent data operate; and most of the time, we don’t really pay second attention to it. However, it is a fundamental role in how the shape publics and publishing data. For example, something as simple as the dashed line or ellipses can have incredibly varying roles to play in our understanding of a subject, as Timo illustrates. He writes a very interesting and visually engaging article on how the basic dotted line can represent movement, hidden geometry, paths, links, expectation (deep, I know), borders, graphs, and a whole lot more. Tell me you’ve thought that analytically about a dotted line and I’ll give you 5 bucks.

This is just one example of how visualisation is a much more complex and convoluted process of operation than than one imagines prima facie. Looking specifically at visual data collection, it is evident that visualisation plays the central part in how data is interpreted in the viewer’s mind. For example, I have an app on my phone that tells me how much sleep I get every night. Here is a comparison of two of different graphs the app provides:


Initially looking at the first graph, all columns are blue, and there doesn’t seem to be too much difference in the amount of sleep I get each day. It takes a close analysis to notice that I’m only getting between 6-7 hours sleep ever day, and that Mondays and Thursdays are the worst contenders. The second graph on the other hand, uses colour (more symbolically green and red) to show quite obviously that drinking tea and energy drinks are having a negative effect on my sleep (and somehow being sick has a positive effect (?)).

Taking somewhat more professional data from, a site devoted to such visual graphs, we can see how shapes, geometry and colour are used to display information that would otherwise be very difficult to interpret. See for example an analysis of the characteristics of selfie-taking.

Taking two slightly more 3D versions of this: VJing and the iPhone experience, it is evident that such visualisation can actually shape your reality. The interaction with your iPhone connects you visually through apps and graphics onto a totally different virtual world. Similarly, VJing significantly alters and improves your experience at events such as nightclubs, music festivals and concerts. Take a look at these two videos:

Thus visual texts not only help to represent such data, but also to organise forms of content/expression in language and make visible the invisible (“transparent data”). I’ll end the post with this article, which I can definitely say had an impact on how I decide what to eat and how often:


Arnell, Timo (2006) ‘the dashed line in use’, <>

Infographics <>

How does 200 calories look like <>


Augmented reality: projection mapping

iPhone user experience

Attention and “the commons”

This post focuses on collectively produced archives – “commons”, as well as the emergence of the attention economy and the idea that the organisation of attention is a significant factor on how we organise what we have in commons.

The “commons”

A commons arises where a society manages a resource in a communal manner, with a focus on equal access and sustainability (David Bollier). In a contemporary publishing context, it is essentially collective collaboration. Walljasper suggests that our society is progressing towards a commons-based one – “the health of the planet should take precedence over the profits of a few”, however Monbiot writes “we’re in danger of losing this global commons as it comes under assault from an army of trolls and flacks, many of them covertly organised or trained.”

I think both are true. Of course there will always be an unbalance of power – a true common-based society is never going to be achieved. Money is power, power is influence, influence is inequality. But I think Walljasper has a point in that the economy of commons is being better incorporated in society by the way in which we are able to engage in its 3 elements (Good and Bauwens): 

  1. Distributed communities of passionate individuals working together spontaneously on
  2. collaborative platform and Internet technologies and by
  3. the foundations, for-benefit institutions that make their know-how available for free.

So, how does attention play a part in this? Production is based on what you WANT to see. The chain is as follows:

Archive –> Economy (of commons) –> attention/distraction

What this means is that how we archive, or are archived is determined by economies, which are in turn dissected into categories such as power, knowledge, money, etc., as well as my focus – attention.

Economy of attention/distraction

At first, this seemed to me like an odd way to classify an economy. However, upon further analysis I realised that it is actually one of the most fundamental archival systems in society. The success of every facet of the economy from businesses to advertisements to any form of publishing relies on how many eyes see it… A Wired article by Michael Goldhaber argues quite convincingly that an information economy as we know it is actually an attention economy. He states: 

As the Net becomes an increasingly strong presence in the overall economy, the flow of attention will not only anticipate the flow of money, but eventually replace it altogether.

That to me is a strong point. With the craziness of technology advances that I’ve described in previous posts, information is far from scarce. But attention – that is something immeasurable, subjective, unreliable and is now the fundamental “basis for economy”. So: > information = < attention. I’m not going to lie – having to read 50 pages before writing this post meant that my attention wavered (to say the least) a lot of the time. I read without reading. I looked without processing. I didn’t pay attention. However isn’t that what publishers work so hard trying to avoid? The aim now is not to sell – it’s to draw in, and to hold. Sorry to say that can’t always be the case! James Temple summarises this point well by commenting:

[We] find it harder to get through a book, movie, conversation or even article (where you going, reader?) without feeling the tug of technology.

(Literally my life in a sentence – looks like I need to improve my infotention). HOWEVER I do fully acknowledge the argument (nicely put forward by Boyd) that we are not as a society losing our ability to focus, we are just merely reshaping ourselves and how we connect and develop as a complex society. Nothing is being lost here. 


If you’ve gotten to the end of this blog, I applaud (and thank you) for your retention of attention. 


Boyd, Stowe (2010) ‘The False Question of Attention Economics’, Stowe Boyd, <>

Erard, Michael (2009) ‘A short manifesto on the future of attention’, Observatory <>

Michael H. Goldhaber (1997) ‘Attention Shoppers!’, Wired, <>

Monbiot, George (2010) ‘Reclaim the Cyber-Commons’,, <>

Rheingold, Howard (2009) ‘Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters’, SFGate<>

Robin Good and Michel Bauwens (2010) ‘From Open Business Models to an Economy of the Commons’, Robin Good, <>

Temple, James (2011) ‘All those tweets, apps, updates may drain brain’ San Fransciso Chronicle, April 17, <>

Walljasper, Jay (2010) ‘The Commons Moment is Now’,,  <>

Theories –> practices –> archive fever

The archivist produces more archive, and that is why the archive is never closed. It opens out of the future.


Theories, as Andrew states in the lecture this week, are a “form of mediation/communication between ideas and practices” that allow us new ways of “understanding familiar things, so that we can work with them differently; or sometimes so that they might work differently.”

So, for example, classical conditioning is a theory. It connects the idea that learning occurs through interactions with the environment with the practice below. (as performed by Ivan Pavlov).

Now let’s look at archive fever. Jacques Derrida, author of ‘Archive Fever’, argues that archives are a basis for authority by having an ability to determine what is “inside” and “outside” out culture.

Ironically, Julie Enszer’s blog post, which summarises the writings of Derrida, is part of an archive surrounding his work . The irony is seen where she notes: “the archive is shaped by the “paternal and patriarchic, principle only posited itself to repeat itself and returned to re-posit itself only in parricide”.

archive fever


Further, we can see in the above photo that Facebook is a prime example of an archive. On Derrida’s page there is a year-by-year recording of his activities, and his information, photos and interests (“likes”) are categorised also. I think this highlights the 3 definitions of what archives are (as stated in the lecture):

  • a basis for individual or collective memory (we can view what happened in 2009 where our memories fail us)
  • a basis for authority, social formations, culture (those that have “liked” his page have formed a community)
  • a basis for individual/collective experience (we can experience as a community the activities of Derrida*)

*the guys that run his page

As Ogle comments: “without deliberate planning, we have created amazing new tools for remembering. The real-time web might just be the most elaborate and widely-adopted architecture for self-archival ever created.”

However he also notes a problem with this – “the current philosophy underlying most of the real-time web is that if it’s not recent, it’s not important. This is what we need to change.”

The way in which digital media advancements have influenced this is phenomenal (as I mention in every blog post). Omeka is one good example of this. As explained on their site, Omeka is “a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Its “five-minute setup” makes launching an online exhibition as easy as launching a blog.” I.e. technology = archive-making in 5 minutes. Me having this blog for example, is me setting up an archive. Thank you WordPress.

PS. I know Andrew suggested avoiding using Facebook as an example, but I couldn’t help but think it was the easiest way to exemplify the idea!