The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies


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Jens Krause, Richard James, Daniel W. Franks, and Darren P. Croft

The corrector overlapped with each domain and properly belonged to neither. Sometimes, publishing firm partners and senior editors got involved in the process, as when houses undertook significantly complicated or expensive work Gaskell, As the compositor slotted lead type into his stick, he was silently doing the typographical and editorial work that the corrector would come to check.

A corrector was required because the compositor had incentives to overlook his own mistakes, since doing so would be charged to his time. The reading was a professional performance with its own auditory conventions; a reader pronounced grammatical marks and used sing-song inflections for variations in type: capitalization, emphasis, conjunctive and possessive apostrophes, and so on. Attending that change was a shift from aural to ocular correction, or the visual collation of a work in different stages of production. A century later, his partner the corrector has not fared much better, particularly since the advent of new media, which, as I will argue later, shifts correction even further from aural to ocular into synthetic or automated realms.

But correctors, reading boys, editorial assistants, and copyeditors are losing their places for more conspicuous reasons. Though this is not exclusively an economic issue, the financial impact of new media upon old media, as well as coinciding economic downturns, have made the considerable costs of correction seem like an unnecessary burden.

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Having always occupied a tenuous middle ground between management and production, editorial positions of various kinds have been subject to significant cuts. But the consequences for its seeming disappearance or reinvention are significant. Revaluing Review and Correction. As with the death of the author, the disappearance of the corrector raises the specter of what might be called, after Foucault, the corrector function: a relation of value between a printed text and its typographical, factual, and stylistic integrity.

The historical quirks and ambiguous status of the corrector underscore how such a function is constantly being negotiated through the economic, social, and technological conditions of the present, or within the discourse of publishing. According to a variety of observers, that discourse is experiencing a paradigmatic shift with the advent of digital publishing in various commercial, civilian, and scholarly forms. So, too, are its structuring relations and values in flux—very much including correction and the notion of a published or finished text. Looking at the genealogy of the corrector, we can still find its functions in the present such as with copyeditors, graduate editorial assistants, etc.

Will the prepublication function of correction continue to make sense? Or how will it evolve? For scholarly publishers and university presses, digital publishing has heralded a major transformation in their businesses. But attention to correction, in either its traditional or its future incarnations, seems notably absent from some of the more conspicuous forums in which university presses have worried or speculated about their futures. Taken together, these forecasts skew toward the managerial and technical domains, toward modified business models and digital production strategies. Obviously, scholarly publishers have some serious and pressing concerns, but the declining attention to correction starts with publishers themselves.

From a different perspective, the inattention to correction seems symptomatic of changing attitudes about its necessity. We agree to spend considerable time ridding the manuscript of minor errors, and the press spends additional time on other corrections and layout, and readers respond to these signals—a lack of typos, nicely formatted footnotes, a bibliography, specialized fonts, and a high-quality physical presentation—by agreeing to give the book a serious read.

Cohen wants to change this equation, as do a host of scholars imagining and actively realizing the possibilities of near-instantaneous, inexpensive, networked scholarly communication on the web. Forget the 5 percent. In these posts, Cohen does not address what futures might be afforded to the corrector function. Perhaps there are none. It is certainly possible to think about copyediting and fact checking as tactical elements in the cost-recovery model of closed or for-profit publishing.

In other words, such correctness is not scholarly integrity ipso facto but as much a by-product of the historical development of publishing as the material features of the book, notions of authorship, and peer review. Corrected and copyedited texts are saleable and signify in a reputational economy because they have been processed in ways that users are unlikely to replicate or undertake themselves.

Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt have experimented with dispensing the 5 percent altogether—and then some. With Hacking the Academy , they crowdsourced a book in one week, inviting contributions from anyone in a range of forms and media. Scheinfeldt reports that he and Cohen are responsible for all the copyediting, which is still laborious but out of necessity less than is usually undertaken for academic volumes.

The first shift eliminated the reading boy and changed the dominant mode of correction from aural to ocular. The current shift may eliminate the editorial nitpicker entirely, displacing correction onto the reader or to autocorrecting functions of networks. Scheinfeldt is sanguine about the economics of this situation, including its uncompensated outsourcing of work, but he is also optimistic about its potentials.

Why belabor the 5 percent when a new model of publishing repays it twice over with intellectual and social dividends? In tangling with these aspects of digital publication, Planned Obsolescence does not explicitly engage the functions of correction that, as we have seen, are often kept distinct from editorial direction and the peer-review process. Planned Obsolescence was itself subject to both traditional peer review through New York University NYU Press and open review on the web, as the draft was published online with CommentPress, allowing for open user comments by page and paragraph.

Examining these documents and their assembled commentary reveals a genuine intellectual generosity in each mode, and Fitzpatrick acknowledges the contributions of each in improving the manuscript. So, too, does each mode offer the occasional correction or copyeditorial note on typos and style, but only sporadically. The revised manuscript was itself sent out for professional copyediting by NYU Press. This method of open review is seeing more trials elsewhere.

The journal Shakespeare Quarterly SQ has undertaken several rounds of preprint open review on the web. The comments during its initial experiment, like those for Planned Obsolescence , favor an engagement with the argument rather than pointing out errors.


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According to associate editor Sarah Werner, SQ is neither expecting nor relying on open review to provide stylistic, citational, and factual correction. It is hard work, and not everyone is volunteering for it. Fitzpatrick is extremely aware of the sustainability challenges of crowdsourced labor and indeed has done much to focus discussions of open review and digital publishing on this important concern.

Are you, dear reader, checking the accuracy of all my quotes and references as you go?

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Or, conversely, are you prepared to relinquish them to the voluntary or automated curation of the open web or to their own scholarly obsolescence? New Schemes for Correction. Various scenarios are already in play for the implementation, reinvention, or dismissal of the duties of formal scholarly publishing as it migrates to digital and online forms.

For example, the platform for Open Journal Systems OJS comes with built-in roles for a wide range of editorial functions for users to customize. Its workflow replicates the traditional structures of peer-reviewed scholarly publishing, distinguishing between editorial guidance, peer review, and copyediting by the sequential transactions of electronic documents Willinsky et al. Especially with a widely distributed, polyglot international journal published using standard web encoding, Coulter wants bibliographic consistency not simply as a matter of quality or value or credibility but also as a function of access and scholarly interoperability.

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In other words, correction may have a unique scholarly value that emerges from the conditions of open, international, online publishing. Other systems of correction are more decentralized, distributed across a broad user base of experts and amateurs alike. The classic example is, of course, Wikipedia, whose dynamic textuality and versioning invite a different understanding of correction as curation. Such distributed and dynamic correction might not even have to take self-conscious or scholarly forms. But depending on that surplus to stimulate the editing of academic work might presume a larger crowd than can reasonably be sourced.

Responding to this challenge, other distributed systems encourage users to participate in editing source texts through social media and gaming elements. Once registered on the site, users can choose to play several typing games in the style of lightweight anytime games like the hugely popular mobile app Angry Birds. Some projects balance the expected interest of users in the source material with other kinds of incentives. In the Transcribe Bentham project, users join a community to transcribe images of manuscripts that are then reviewed by editors and will be aggregated into The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham in print.

The online Bite-Size Edits Project, spawned by the blog Book Oven , also uses a points scheme to entice its users to recommend improvements to snippets of creative writing. Users can cash in their accumulated points for selected books. Dickens Journalism Online is conducting a closed trial of distributed proofreading among academics, appealing to their interest in the material to generate a high-quality online resource. Other models look past user interactions to experiment with automating the labor of correction. The LOCKSS system preserves the integrity of content on the level of bits and bytes and also automatically migrates content formats to stave off obsolescence.

CLOCKSS adds to the complex relations of postpublished versions of files some of the various states of their evolution. Correction is not the only strategy to deal with error: search and recommendation engines like Google and Reference Extract are practicing error avoidance.

In other words, these engines source the opinions and usage events of a community to derive some measure of credibility in returning and ranking results. They do not just build in recommendations but map the patterns of what data are accessed by whom and why. That information can supply normalizing functions like automatic search suggestions, spelling correction, and citation indexing that restore a measure of correction to the work of peer review.

Instead, they map a spectrum of attention to correction: from reinventing the traditional labor of academic publishing in digital environments, to distributing that labor openly and widely, to delegating it to automated agents, to dismissing its relative importance within the grander scheme of what open, digital publishing can achieve. I will argue otherwise, not to claim that copyedited textual integrity is an independent scholarly value to be preserved at all costs in whatever media we operate, but rather to suggest how errata manifests and proliferates in its newer media and production contexts.

Because the enterprise of digital publishing is remediating scholarly methods as well as resources, the evolving functions of correction have an important role in promoting the textual productivity and network effects of our published work. The Function of Error. The web remains a textual medium. Its abundant multimodal data are inscribed by a simple character set with which we are typographically and numerically fluent—as are the protocols, ontologies, and schemata by which the web is constituted. These are the daunting—and largely remaining challenges—of the Semantic Web. If that analogy holds, then correction has a future that is vital to the evolution of the web.

Almost everyone concerned with digital publishing acknowledges that it must mean more than finding an electronic equivalence with print. The future of scholarly publishing gets right to the heart of the semantic web. We can easily relate these metaphors to scholarly publishing, though Johnson is more broadly interested in the systemic intelligence of the web itself. Publishing in open forms facilitates these effects. For many scholars, this argument only underscores why scholarly publishing should open itself to the serendipitous productivity of the semantic web.

But the relative inattention to correction in new publishing models may impede the very textual productivity by which the semantic web works. Because networked scholarly communication will increasingly operate through structured metadata and automated relational processes, it is imperative to consider the particular hindrances of errors within this scheme. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

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The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies
The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies
The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies
The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies
The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies The Network Challenge (Chapter 15): The Business Model as the Engine of Network-Based Strategies

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