Author: Mercedes Bunz

Does digital publishing have to be immaterial? No at all. This nice example below shows clearly that you don’t have to neglect the material aspect when publishing a magazine or book digitally.

What you see is the last issue of Multitudes, the French philosophical and political monthly journal founded in 2000. When creating their issue 54 “Luttes de classes sur le web”, they came up with this excellent idea: to use a cardreader USB big enough to print some content on. Continue Reading…

One of the most pressing problems Open Access currently still has, becomes very well apparent in my own story: there is no funding to publish a stand-alone book.

How Digitalization Transforms Knowledge, Work, Journalism and Politics Without Making Too Much Noise

Not Open Access despite trying: How Digitalization Transforms Knowledge, Work, Journalism and Politics Without Making Too Much Noise

When I planned to publish my book on algorithms “The Silent Revolution”, I wanted to publish it Open Access. Of course! In my view its topic should be available as widely as possible: It is useful for students and researchers – there is an introductory overview over recent debates about algorithms; and it discusses the effect of algorithms on our societies, with a special focus on the transformation of the public sphere pushed by Google, Facebook, Twitter, et. al. In short: it concerns us all, and I would have liked it to be within easy reach.

As we all know, academic books are often locked in a high price, my book currently costs $54 or £45 as a hard cover, so I am very happy that there is a much cheaper digital version at $32.44 or £19.50. However, easily available in Open Access would be much better.

How Much Is A Book? Expect the costs of a small car
When I asked Palgrave Macmillian, my helpful editor started to research the situation. Continue Reading…

Hybrid Publishing LabWant to work with us? We are looking for nice and intelligent people that contribute to our plans hands-on. Now what are these plans? The Hybrid Publishing lab is researching how digital change affects the world of academic and independent publishing. The team you will join is a group of about 20 researchers, who are interested in the change of publishing and coordinate their efforts in Lüneburg.

The two jobs open at the moment are covering the area of entrepreneurship and project management. Among other things, we are planning to establish a closer contact to publishing houses. Also we need some help to organise thrilling events, bigger conferences and workshops.

Please send us your job applications and a CV to the email address you’ll find on the official job descriptions below. They are in German… Yes, for the jobs you’ll need both, English and German language skills. Contact us if you have any questions. We are looking forward to hear from you!

Official Job description (german):

When surfing the excellent catalogue of the Australian Open Access publisher re:press, I found a logo. As I am easy to distract, I clicked on it to find the interesting Australian organization below which “represents, advocates and applauds more than 100 small publishers around Australia and is a fan of independent publishing worldwide”.


Studying their report “A lovely kind of madness: small and independent publishing in Australia” (2007), I learned that it was founded in 2006 with the aim to tackle the biggest problem of small publishers: publicity and distribution. I think now one can say there is also a third problem for independent publishers making an organization like this even more important: it is nearly impossible for independent publishers to keep track of the ever changing digital technology.

The Small Press on the web and on twitter.

As academic knowledge digitalizes, the libaries keep pace or even make the pace. The Higher Education Network of my old employer, The Guardian, has an interesting special on the future of libraries. Claire Shaw and her colleagues have done excellent work! I thought I quickly share some of the findings I came across. To sum it up: while all those libraries define their role quite differently, one thing is certain: digital technology is getting more and more important. This is what their plans are:

Nigeria pushes knowledge with electronic resources: The American University of Nigeria shows how technology can help to unlock knowledge – with the use of Open Access resources, as its director explicitly says. They train their stuff in using the technology and getting Open Access material. With an interesting outcome:
Total usage of ebooks: 2011: 1,889 / 2012: 45,442
Total usage of books 2011: 16,185 / 2012: 8,892
Continue Reading…


Even the last seat of the conference room was taken. That was something the organisers of “Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference” hadn’t expected. JISC Collections in partnership with OAPEN Foundation have obviously hit a nerve with their two days event in the British Library, and their excellent choice of experts discussing the current state of OA monograph publishing may have helped. (Lovely keynote by Jean-Claude Guédon!)

In a nutshell: there is a lot going on in academic publishing at the moment that is of interest for our Hybrid Publishing Consortium researching and developing Open Source publishing software. This blogpost can not do the conference justice but only mentions a few points. Continue Reading…

ftbWill digitalization transform publishing further so that we will soon have ‘multi-models’ like we have ‘multi-media’? This question was debated at “Forget the Book! Writing in the Age of Digital Publishing” hosted by Sarah Kember and Benjamin Pester as part of the CREATe consortium work package “Whose Book is it Anyway”.

While outside the sun was shining for a change, about 30 experts made their way out to Goldsmiths University of London and spent three hours of their Saturday in a dark cinema. A proof that within academia publishing is a pressing issue. Indeed, a lively audience discussed key topics like experimentation and the rise of curation in publishing, as well as other challenges, chances, and set-backs with Gary Hall (Director of the Centre for Disruptive Media at Coventry University), Sarah Kember (Media and Communications/Goldsmiths), Sean Cubitt (Professor of Film and Television/Goldsmiths), and Doug Sery, (Senior Editor MIT Press, New Media, Game Studies, Design). As Sarah Kember put it: publishing is changing at the moment, and if we don’t make this change someone else will. Continue Reading…

bookfair From a hybrid’s point of view, the most interesting thing of the London Book Fair was to get to know the business model of Ubiquity Press, an open access publisher of peer-reviewed, academic journals that has emerged from UCL. In our little chat with publisher Brian Hole I learned that it has established a business model that works for them – we are eager to learn more and will try to catch up with them soon (stay tuned). Otherwise I quickly wanted to share some interesting impressions: Sony proudly announces “eReading since 1990”, and Elsevier praises “share”. Exciting times!
Continue Reading…

Want to work with us? We are looking for nice and intelligent people that contribute to our plans. Now what are these plans? The Hybrid Publishing lab is, among other things, creating an open source toolbox for publishing infrastructures, specifically at the world of academic and independent publishing. And yes, of course we are committed to Open Access.

The team you will join is a group of 18 alert and curious researchers that are interested in the change of publishing and meet regularly in Lüneburg to coordinate their efforts.

The two jobs open at the moment are covering the area of Design Research and/or Computer Science. These jobs shall help the team with exploring publishing modes, by creating a combination of multi-format distribution, and with considering the role of social media.

Please email your job applications and a CV to the emails you’ll find on the official job descriptions below. And don’t hesistate to contact us if you have any questions. We are looking forward to hear from you!

Official Job description here (english):
Research Associate in Design Research
Research Associate in Computer Science

(Added 2nd March: … as some of you have asked: your English speaking skills are more important than your German speaking skills…)

Official Job description (german):
Wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in Designforschung
Wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in Informatik

Trailer – Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives.

There are tons of books about how to use social media for media marketing. By contrast, the critical perspective on social networks lacks a bit behind. This brick of a book published today by the Institute of Network Cultures is a statement to change this.

In ‘The Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies And Their Alternatives” you find 43 contributions from people like the philosopher Bernhard Stiegler and D.E. Wittkower, the Digital Humanities theorist David M. Berry, the W3C fellow Harry Halpin, or the media theorist Geert Lovink and Corinna Patelis, who both started this important conference series, of course.
This is, what it is about:

“The Unlike Us Reader offers a critical examination of social media, bringing together theoretical essays, personal discussions, and artistic manifestos. How can we understand the social media we use everyday, or consciously choose not to use? We know very well that monopolies control social media, but what are the alternatives?
While Facebook continues to increase its user population and combines loose privacy restrictions with control over data, many researchers, programmers, and activists turn towards designing a decentralized future. Through understanding the big networks from within, be it by philosophy or art, new perspectives emerge.”

By the way, the Hybrid Publishing Lab has several contributions in there.

  • Yuk Hui and Harry Halpin: Collective Individuation – The Future of the Web
  • Martin Warnke: Databasis as Citadels in the Web2.0
  • Mercedes Bunz: As you like it – Critique in the Era of an Affirmative Discourse.

Please get your copy here, and decide yourself if this is unlike you.
Oh, and come by the next conference in March!

As the academic book publishing field is erupting, there have been a couple of very good conferences recently. Besides the “Public Library – HAIP Festival 2012!” Simon describes below, one of them was “Books in Browsers 2012” held at The Internet Archive in San Francisco. There, the famous technology publisher O’Reilly Media introduced its new book publishing platform “Atlas”, which is in beta at the moment as the publisher and a couple of authors are testing it. Introducing Atlas, Adam Witwer (who oversees the publishing services division at O’Reilly Media) said something that is partly true: “We’ve got the tools. Let’s start using them!”

It is true. More and more book publishing platforms are developed. Our own lab, for example, has recently looked into Booktype and Open Monograph Press, and there are many more. But look at this screenshot of the editing interface of Atlas below. Is this really a writing environment for everyone? Do we really have the tools?


For sure, Atlas is very good an online collaborative writing tool as it is keeping track of your versions. It is also excellent that it comes with four different book layouts, and you don’t have to get lost in InDesign. It nicely converts your text in three different formats (pdf, epub, mobi) using the open source software development environment git. But while this might be good for engineers, I am not sure this is also suits academic writers really, and here is where I disagree with Adam Witwer. We do not have the tools…

At the moment, everyone is looking at the cloud trying to get authors and publishers working on certain platforms. Even when these would be developed a bit more user friendly guiding/locking users in the Apple way… could it be, that the platform idea might be the wrong track? Not only, because academic genres have very different ways of publishing. Also because…

To write and develop ideas and thoughts is a strange thing, and Derrida has said that the concept of writing is what defines the field of a science.

It is a process with a certain weight.  It is a burden. Therefore writing isn’t necessarily and at all times a process you want to do in an environment that already feels public. Digitizing the writing/editing/publishing process should take this a bit more into account. While it is possible to mingle all three in code, to do two steps in one might not be the best digital environment for all of us researchers. Thinking about publishing needs to start with writing, and for a lot of us humans writing is much more than just typing words.

Spending my day in four late trains yesterday that were all held captive by the German winter, I managed to read this very good report on “The Current State of Open Access Repository Interoperability (2012)” from our colleagues from Göttingen, the Coar Initiative.

Repositories are indeed becoming an interesting alternative to the knowledge distribution by academic journals. That is why in August Elsevier, the publisher of 2,000 scientific journals, acquired Atira, the company who developed the full text repository PURE.


There is much to be thought about and a lot needs to be debated, though one thing is clear: more and more universities make their researchers file their writings in a repository (indeed, the Hybrid Publishing Lab’s researchers will have a track&trace session with PURE during our next big meeting). So who is interested in Open Access needs to follow this development, and this report gives quite a good overview on Open Access Initiatives dealing with them.

Download: “The Current State of Open Access Repository Interoperability (2012)” from “The Confideration of Open Access Repositories”.

The innovative University of Innsbruck Press has recently published a quite interesting book with essays “On Media, Knowledge and Education: Cultures and Ethics of Sharing”


Opened by an introduction of my colleague Volker Grassmuck – “The Sharing Turn” -, the texts focus among others on learning with videos, the new value of the quote, and sharing as educational practice with a case-study from University of Udine among others. The book has three parts, “Social Dynamics of Sharing”, “Communities and Institutions” and finally “Theorien und Praktiken des Teilens” (theories and practices of sharing).

Quite a good one. And the best, you can buy the printed copy for € 27,90, or download it here for free: Wolfgang Sützl, Felix Stalder, Ronald Maier, Theo Hug (Eds.): Cultures and Ethics of Sharing / Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens, 2012, innsbruck university press • iup ISBN 978-3-902811-74-5

Like many other young researchers all over the world, junior scientist Antonio Silva is working to build himself a career in science. In order to push his research further, he recently published two papers in the field of ethnography, one with an open and one with a closed access model. Yes, this makes him a perfect research object for our lab, the more as what he experienced changed his view. In a short interview, he shared his experience.

OpenAcces vs. Closes Access (sorry for the sound, we are still in a learning process).

PLoS ONE, one of the scientific journals Silva talks about, is one of the biggest open access peer reviewed scientific journals and was launched by the Public Library of Science in 2006. The journal is well aware of the problems Silva mentions in the end, an argument which can be pinnacled as follows: the ability to get your research published shouldn’t only be for the rich. Of course not! They decided to rely on a country-based pricing model: while PLoS ONE generally charges an ‘article processing fee’ of $ 1350, a number of poorer countries only pay a fee of $ 500, or even no money at all. Does this pay off? It seems to be the case. After writing off a loss in the beginning, in 2010 PLoS ONE covered its operational costs for the first time largely due to its growth. In 2011, the journal published over 13,500 articles, and in 2012 it continued to publish over 2,000 articles a month.

Evolution & Human Behavior, on the other hand, published Silva’s other article for free. His research “Facial attractiveness and fertility in populations with low levels of modern birth control” appeared in the closed access journal of the Nature Group in Volume 33, Issue 5, on the pages 491-498. To read it digitally, one would have to pay $ 31.50.

Where should science go from here?

Which model is best for research? What kind of science do we want? There are some principal questions the Hybrid Publishing Lab has to face, and as often in science there will be no easy answer. Our research will have to ponder some social and political aspects of science, as well as the economical reality it finds itself in after digitalization.

Should science be good for business, or should it be independent? But how independent is a researcher, when instead of an independent publisher the university would have to pay for it all? While universities are of general importance, all democratic systems befit some balance of power. However, it is out of the question that the Open Access Initiative benefits society: open access broadens the access to research for scientists as well as for the general public. What other models are available to fund research? Can specific research, for example the one in the humanities, also be funded by crowd sourcing? One of our researchers, Christian Heise, himself well experienced in the digital world, thinks it is a model that should at least be considered, and I would agree.

… and these are the people who will think about it.

This blog will follow the debate and development around open access and publishing as it will be a notepad to the Hybrid Publishing team currently doing research at the Leuphana University, Germany under the guidance of PD Dr. rer. nat. Martin Warnke and Prof. Dr. Timon Beyes. Here, you will find postings from Dr. Armin Beverungen, genuinely interested and experienced in the subject of open access publishing thanks to his own journal ephemera, who will manage our academic publishing experiments. To his side you find Simon Worthington, a name likely known to some of you from London’s magazine Mute, where he already had started the vision of an open source publishing platform. With the support of Jens-Martin Loebel and Heinz-Günter Kuper, Simon will manage our Hybrid Publishing Platform, as their programming skills and Simon’s experience and connections are a research director’s a dream team – Heinz and Jens have already coded the Hyper Image platform, we also plan to develop further. Last but not least, we will profit from Marjatta Kiessl insightful experience in publishing and education alike, as well as Christian Heise, who brings in strong ties to the Open Knowledge Foundation.

Wanna work with us?

Soon we will be more, if you are interested, this is the link to our job ads.  And here you can read about the progress we make, and problems we meet. Yes, we will use this blog to ponder current ideas, note our work in progress, share and report events and discuss actual debates concerning the issue. Yes, expect a range of different opinions as we are indeed open – please feel welcome to take part in the discussion.

We all believe that Open Access is a great opportunity for our societies, but to make something available can only be the beginning. From there we need to go further and shape the process in greater detail – to make something accessible and sustainable is equally important, for example. We are looking forward to take part in shaping this new landscape digitalization has opened up.