On Publishing my YouTube “book” on-line
September 24, 2009
Tomorrow I will be visiting Tara McPherson’s graduate course on something like “theories and practices of new media,” and she has asked me to present, quickly, some of the difficult considerations that define my current efforts (with the assistance of the Vector’s team) to “publish” my various YouTube findings, practices, musings, papers, videos, blogs, tours, and internet publications into a digital “book.” (author’s note [May 24, 2010]: since this was written last year, the on-line “video-book” has been accepted for a radical publication with MIT Press [part of a Mellon grant on re-thinking humanities publishing via the digital], and will be hosted on their web-site, for free, I think, once all these difficult decisions are finalized.)
By way of introduction, and as a method to display the many contradictions and conundrums in the very format that is the problem, I will briefly list here ten themes that define my (attempts to) move entirely on-line:
1. Audience. When you go on-line your readers (can) include non-academics.
2. Commitment. Harder to command amidst the distractions.
3. Design. Matters more; means.
4. Finitude. The page(s) need never close.
5. Interactivity. Should your readers, who may or may not be experts, author too?
6. Linearity. Goes out the window, unless you force it.
7. Multi-modal. Much can be expressed outside the confines of the word.
8. Network. How things link is within or outside the author’s control.
9. Single author. Why hold out the rest of the internet?
10. Temporality. People read faster on-line. Watching video can be slow. A book is long.
Here’s the shape of my current project, in development: this publication will speak to an audience of scholars, committed intellectuals, and media activists through a simple, legible, but perky interface that refers, visually, to that which it critiques, while on a deep-level (via programming), performing that which it says YouTube precludes. It will stay open, as I continue to learn but there will be only limited avenues for interaction. I will produce several arguments that the reader can choose to follow or depart from at their whim and a second structure that gives the user more opportunities to l(th)ink for themselves. A good deal of the ideas of this text will be expressed through video which will sit in a highly designed and interactive relation to written words with which it has been been previously associated. I will try to “time” these arguments, a kinds of montage really, to command my readers’ interest and commitment.