Some notes after reading “Human as Media”, by Adam Thomlison

Authors in the field of popular literature bear many of the same marks as the emancipated authors in Andrey Miroshnichenko’s “Human as Media: The Emancipation of Authorship.”

Andrey’s book touches on a couple of concepts that I also looked at in my master’s thesis, and which will appear in a (hopefully) forthcoming journal article. My study consists of in-depth discussions with a few self-publishing authors of popular fiction, non-fiction and poetry about their views on e-books.

The concept of “response,” put forth in Andrey’s “Human as Media: The Emancipation of Authorship” as the desired reward for authoring content, is very much like the idea of “symbolic cultural capital” which I discuss. Of course, it actually wasn’t my idea – it’s one of Pierre Bourdieu’s forms of capital, which he conceived of, in essence, to put ‘soft’ concepts like prestige and reputation in the same ‘hard’ terms as economics. It is interesting, though, that Andrey and I come to different conclusions: My argument is that the desire for symbolic capital is leading people to reject digital authorship, because it is less prestigious (i.e. confers less capital) than print. However, I’m looking at the present, while Andrey looks at the future: I think that this capital differential between print and digital will shrink as digital authorship popularizes, through the processes he outlines.

On p. 79 of “Human as Media,” Andrey writes that “the negative evaluation of digital information by its own participants is an extremely bizarre phenomenon. In essence, it represents a lack of trust in the collective itself.” I found a similar phenomenon among the authors I worked with. Some of the e-book self-publishers I talked to said that the majority of self-published e-books are worthless — that theirs were among the few worth reading. This is, I think, a function of the natural confidence any other has to have in their work. But it also was a little surprising to me that they would promote the stereotype of digital self-publishers as being mediocre while publishing that way themselves.

Having spent so much time focusing on what the interviewees in my study are doing in the present, it was fascinating to read what Andrey thought these phenomena would lead to in the future.

Adam Thomlison, journalist, scholar, publisher; he runs 40-Watt Spotlight, an Ottawa-based publisher – an indie record label for books.

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Categories: Emancipation of Authorship, Human as media book

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