Networked Books, Tentative and Complete

By Neal Comment

ourspace-cover.gifIn OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture, professor Christine Harold suggests that traditional “culture jamming” techniques—such as parodying or defacing consumer icons to propagate “subversive” messages—have reached their limits in terms of genuinely challenging capitalism. Instead, according to the OurSpace jacket copy, “she advocates a more inclusive approach to intellectual property that invites innovation and wider participation in the creative process,” focusing on recently developed strategies like open source technology and the Creative Commons license.

To demonstrate her support for the philosophy of collaborative culture, Harold and the University of Minnesota Press have created a wikipedic home page for OurSpace that links to the full text of the book’s final chapter, “Inventing Public: Kairos* and Intellectual Property Law.” Harold not only invites discussion on the chapter’s ideas, she asks readers to provide their own real-life examples and advice for resisting corporate culture.

*A term from Greek rhetoric defining, basically, an instance of expression unique to the special circumstances in which it was generated.

Of course, it’s possible to take this model even further, and Harvard University Press and the Institute for the Future of the Book have teamed up to publish an edition of McKenzie Wark‘s Gamer Theory that incorporates feedback from readers who saw an earlier version of the book online last year. It also features “visualizations” of Wark’s concepts, including this nifty bit of colorized ASCII art by Ben Delarre that renders the entire text of Gamer Theory as a Mario Bros. level:


But experiments such as these aren’t yet completely open-ended. “I will probably not produce a Version 3.0 of this book,” Wark admits on the book’s home page. “I’m the kind of person who likes to move on and do new things.”