There are a lot of opinions coming from various wings – some positive, some critical – about how the circulationist incentives of online production not only compel a user to become a self-brander, but also shift the measure of critical evaluation from any single piece of content to the branding strategy at large. I feel apprehensive talking about “stakes” in any qualitative sense here, as I think that emergent forms of online writing – and the user strategies attendant to them – require the terms of critique, in turn, to expand. And it seems like that’s only beginning to happen.
That said, we can already see how circulationist incentives naturalize cultural capital as sufficient compensation for content generation; this carries one series of labor considerations on a platform like Facebook, and another when we are dealing with online publishing venues, such as art journals. While it’s thus important to understand how online and offline writing may differ, we should be insistent that their relationship to remuneration must not.
Ha, this is a bit of an Ouroboros question, as I think that my online reading habits have so drastically affected my offline reading habits that I can hardly distinguish the two. When I sit in my armchair to read a book, it generally takes fifteen or twenty minutes just to settle into the text – to close the phantom windows in my mind and prepare for the fact that all future inputs will be found on the page.
This is a fairly disillusioning experience – and, as I’ve come to realize, an inconvenient one. I was once that masochist who enjoyed the hours spent transcribing my marginalia from physical books; these days, if I can find the book on my e-reader, I’ll opt for it, even if I’m rereading a well-thumbed text collecting dust on my bookshelf. I’m aware that my reading acuity drops when I’m only highlighting PDFs, but hey, technology is fulfilling its promise by saving me time, right?
I wouldn’t say that an online post does not an audience make, but I always find that the greatest responses to my writing (whether online or in print) come in person or via e-mail – through private channels of communication. Part of it owes to the intimacy of those channels, which can limit the performative dimension of hashing out a topic on a comment thread or in a discussion forum.
This observation isn’t categorical, but personal. I’m a fairly private, reserved guy and keep a minimal online footprint, so haven’t done enough fieldwork to learn about all of the publics that are generating online discourse.
Absolutely. My best example has less to do with publishing than pedagogy. I’m teaching my first online course this semester (for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Low-Residency MFA), and we have bi-weekly, written discussions about the readings. These play out as a series of lengthy comments, written by the students and me, which attempt (with varying degrees of success) to simulate a classroom conversation.
In general, my writing leans quite heavily on citations, which mainly reflects my academic training. There’s something passive in how I’ve inculcated this training: I don’t just acknowledge sources, but all too often defer to them. With online teaching, however, the citation becomes the hyperlink, and deference becomes implicitly (or ideally) dialogical, as if a given link can start a conversation or enter into an existing one. This has had a real effect on how I write online, inspiring me to pull more links into the bodies of my text – to accept that a post may be looser in form, but all the richer for it.