New Literary Technology: Creation and Control
The topic of my Division III will be authorship in
relationship to collaborative creation and group control in the
face of changing technology. The introduction to my Division
II retrospective used a metaphor of a quickly accelerating
storm at the crux of literature and new technology. I claimed
that this storm was building quickly and that my Division II
aimed to prepare me with perspective and background and to place
me on a firm intellectual foundation before the storm
hits. With my Division II completed, my Division III aims
to be my first step into this storm.
My project will mirror the interdisciplinary nature of my
Division II by approaching the topic (perhaps
theme is a
better term) from legal, historical, and technological
perspectives. Each approach will be a distinct--but
interconnected--unit. While all three projects are essential,
all three will not necessarily attempt to be equally intense
endeavors. While the project as a whole is ambitious, I am
not attempting to write three Division III's. Combined,
the three sub-projects will form a single unit that exhibits the
diversity and interdisciplinary nature of my undergraduate
education. Together, they will begin to approach authorship in a
way that can hope to shed some light on the complex situation
that advancing technology is plunging authorship into.
Any good analysis of current trends takes history into perspective. I will use historical research to put my legal and technological work onto a firm foundation. The focus of this work will be authorship as it pertains to the collaborative creation of literature. I am interested in researching academic or literary communities (perhaps only one) that created, revised, and consumed literature as groups. Medieval annotations are an example that I've worked with before. I am interested in the technology and conceptions of authorship that facilitated this type of creation as well as the nature of these groups literary works. I want to use this analysis as a way of exploring trends that transcend any one period. Either explicitly or implicitly, I'm interested in applying this research, especially through the other facets of my Division III, to contemporary methods of literary creation and conceptions of authorship.
As stated, this topic is overly vague. I'll work to create a concise thesis that cuts to the core of the issues I'm investigating.
I will engage issues of new technology and authorship by
building technology that encourages a radical
interpretation of authorship. This may turn into the largest
sub-project in terms of hours of work. I've already begun the
development project through some early software engineering and
the creation of a technical
Comment document which I encourage you to browse.
In simple terms, the project aims to create a
version control system specifically designed for working with
documents--especially in a asynchronous collaborative
environment. For the purposes of my Division III, I aim to
create a working standard, framework, and a proof of concept
example that I, along with other developers, can continue to
develop and improve.
By writing software to facilitate collaborative literary
creation, I will be creating a mechanism for a type of literary
creation that challenges the dominant paradigm. In research for
my papers I will study how information and ideas have been
conceived, developed, and distributed over time and how they
might be in the future. My code provides a way for me to,
my hands dirty.
To me, this is the most unique aspect of my Division III and will distinguish my project from most others. I want my project to do more than talk about authorship, creation and control. While my project will certainly exactly that, I will also create something tangible: code that can bring form to my ideas. As a programmer, I have the ability to create and manipulate a literary medium and I want my project to take advantage of this.
In the final piece, I will take a legal and philosophical approach to group creation and control. This essay will argue the importance and persistence of collaborative creation. My work will be influenced by arguments made by Lawrence Lessig, David Bolier, and Eben Moglen among many others.
To me, this is the most important piece of my Division III. The historical project will attempt to approach collaborative creation and control in the past. The technological analysis will be playing with creation and control today. This final piece will be my discussion of where to go from here. I want to argue that by creating and controlling collaboratively, we are able to achieve more. I want to argue against some popular conceptions of authorship and theories of creation.
In addition to my committee members, I will be working with others involved in related field to research and write the essay and refine my thesis. Since most of the work for this sub-project will take place during Spring semester, the topic will begin to take more concrete form in revisions of my Division III contract.