Category: commons

Momentum at a New University Press: Revisiting the UWP Story

Momentum at a New University Press: Revisiting the UWP Story

Reflecting on the merits of consistent publishing activity and its multiplier effects – some reflections on UWP’s growth on the Ubiquity Press blog from the University of Westminster Press: ‘Thanks a Million: Momentum at a New University Press

Interesting to compare with the view in September 2015 ‘Setting up a University Press in the Digital Age’ and again as recently as May 2019, ‘Setting up a University Press in the Digital Age Revisited‘ when a fuller UWP timeline was presented.

Still unconfirmed but possible we will be able to announce in July 1.25 million views and downloads to end June but we have to wait for the data which may or may not confirm that!

Andrew Lockett, Press Manager

New Jisc University Press Toolkit: Introduction – Webinar Event

We are advised by Jisc that there are still a few places remaining for this webinar event on new university presses at which UWP will be represented by their Press Manager. See here for the Toolkit.

When? Tuesday 8 June 2021, 14:00-15:30 (BST).

What follows is information from Jisc verbatim.

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In March 2021, Jisc launched a toolkit to support new and existing university
and library open access publishing ventures. The toolkit was developed with the
input from an international editorial advisory board consisting of University
Presses and other experts in the field.

This webinar will discuss the aims and objectives of the toolkit,
including a short walkthrough, followed by a panel session featuring members of
the Editorial Advisory Board.

Andrew Lockett, Press Manager, University of Westminster Press, Kate Petherbridge,
White Rose Libraries Executive Manager, White Rose University Press Lara
Speicher, Head of Publishing, UCL Press Graham Stone, Subject matter expert (OA
monographs), Jisc Alison Welsby, Editorial Director & Senior Commissioning
Editor, Liverpool University Press Sofie Wennstrom, Managing Editor, Stockholm
University Press.

The session will be Chaired by Eelco Ferwerda, Consultant, formerly of
OAPEN/DOAB.

This event will be of interest to university press staff in existing
presses, as well as library, academic and senior university staff who are
considering setting up their own press. We also hope that the toolkit is
transferable to the wider community, e.g., those wishing to set up academic-led
publishing and presses that are considering the transition to a fully open
access model.

Please visit the URL below to book for this free online event.

Slave to the Algorithm? Changing the Tune

Slave to the Algorithm? Changing the Tune

UWP are pleased to announce a forthcoming title DIGITAL PLATFORMS AND ALGORITHMIC SUBJECTIVITIES* exploring the changing nature of subjectivities produced in an era of changing boundaries between the social and personal and the economic and technological for its Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series edited by Christian Fuchs. The title is edited by Emiliana Armano, Marco Briziarelli and Elisabetta Risi (State University of Milan, University of New Mexico and IULM University of Milan respectively and will be published open access thanks to the support of Knowledge Unlatched.

*Amended 27 July 2021

DESCRIPTION

Algorithms are a form of productive power – so how may we conceptualise the newly merged terrains of social life, economy and self in a world of digital platforms? How do multiple self-quantifying practices interact with questions of class, race and gender? This book considers algorithms at work – for what purposes encoded data about behaviour, attitudes, dispositions, relationships and preferences are deployed – and black box control, platform society theory and the formation of subjectivities. It details technological structures and lived experience of algorithms and the operation of platforms in areas such as crypto-finance, production, surveillance, welfare, activism in pandemic times. Finally, it asks if platform cooperativism, collaborative design and neomutualism offer new visions. Even as problems with labour and in society mount, subjectivities and counter subjectivities here produced appear as conscious participants of change and not so much the servants of algorithmic control and dominant platforms.

CONTENTS

Introduction. Platforms, Algorithms and Subjectivities.– Emiliana Armano, Marco Briziarelli, Joseph Flores, Elisabetta Risi

Part I: Conceptualizing an algorithmic society

  1. The Californian Ideology Revisited – Lawrence Quill & Hasmet Uluorta
  2. Platform Politics and a World Beyond Catastrophe – Ned Rossiter & Soenke Zehle
  3. Platforms in Time of Pandemic– Niccolò Cuppini, Mattia Frapporti & Maurilio Pirone
  4. Domus Capitalismi. Domesticated Subjectivities in Times of Covid-19 – Marco Briziarelli & Emiliana Armano  
  5. Black Box Power Zones of Uncertainty in Algorithmic Management – Heiner Heiland 
  6. Algorithmic Management in Food Delivery Platforms, between Digital Neo-Taylorism and Enhanced Subjectivity – Emiliana Armano, Daniela Leonardi & Annalisa Murgia
  7. Extracting Free Labour– Patrick Cingolani  
  8. On Value And Labor In The Age Of Platforms– Andrea Miconi

Part II: Phenomenology and experiences. 

9. The Digital Traces of Crypto-Finance– Alberto Cossu  
10. The Social Costs of the Gig Economy and Institutional Responses. Forms of Institutional Bricolage in Italy, France, and the Netherland – Maurizio Franzini & Silvia Lucciarini
11. Plat-Firming Welfare. Examining Digital Transformation in Local Care Services – Davide Arcidiacono, Ivana Pais & Flaviano Zandonai
12.Algorithmic Prosumers – Elisabetta Risi & Riccardo Pronzato
13. Performed Subjectivities in Ranking and Recommendation Systems – Tatiana Mazali & Nicoletta Gay
14. Labour Control and Commodification Strategies Within A Food Delivery Platform in Belgium – Milena  Franke  & Valeria Pulignano
15. Emerging Forms of Sociotechnical Organisation the Case of the Fediverse – Jacopo Anderlini & Carlo Milani
16. A Workers’ Inquiry into Canvas and Zoom Disrupting the Algorithmic University – Robert Ovetz

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Emiliana Armano, PhD in Labour Studies at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the State University of Milan. She collaborates in research into informational capitalism, knowledge work, flexibility and precariousness, with a social inquiry and coresearch methodological approach.

Marco Briziarelli is professor of Department of Communication and Journalism of the University of New Mexico. He studies critical approaches to media and communication theory, especially as these fields intersect with broader issues in political and social theory, intellectual and cultural history. Dr. Briziarelli is also interested in media and social movements and critical conceptualization of digital labor. His work has appeared in triple C: Communication, Capitalism & Critique, CommunIcation and Critical/Cultural Studies and many other journals.

Elisabetta Risi, PhD in Information Society, is Research Fellow of the Department of Communication, Arts and Media of IULM University (Milan). She teaches disciplines related to digital methods and her research interests include critical study of society and media, platform society the relationship between communication practices, identity and social change.

RELATED PUBLISHING

UWP has previously published The Spectacle 2.0 by two of the book’s editors Marco Briziarelli and Emiliana Armano in the CDSMS series, the CAMRI Policy Brief Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things with AI FOR EVERYONE edited by Pieter Verdegem of the University of Westminster also scheduled for 2021.

New Law for Intellectual Commons Needed – Broumas

New Law for Intellectual Commons Needed – Broumas

Released this week the latest title in the CDSMS series edited by Christian Fuchs by lawyer and activist Antonios Broumas makes the case for a new body of law to harness the potential and social value of the intellectual commons. Using case studies of cultural commons initiatives it clearly articulates why the commons have intrinsic value deserving of legal protection. At the heart of these new proposals is a recognition and expansion of the public domain and the need for greater personal and social rights and freedoms for individuals to properly participate in the realms of culture and science.

Extracts from the book titled Intellectual Commons and the Law: A Normative Theory for Commons-Based Peer Production follow:

[T]he intellectual commons are suppressed by the dominant value system of commodity markets and its universal equivalent of value in the form of money upon the intellectual commons. Such pressure, which may even lead to the extinction of intellectual commons communities, comes into contradiction with the overall conclusion regarding their social value and potential. Even though such communities may as a rule not be as productive as corporations in terms of money circulation, profits, jobs and taxes, this does not make them unproductive in terms of social value. On the contrary, the communities of the intellectual commons contain and emanate a wealth of social values, which ought to be protected through legal means.

***

Rather than proposing reforms within the property-oriented framework of contemporary expansive intellectual property laws, the current book advances a normative line of argumentation in favour of an independent body of law for the regulation of the intellectual commons, i.e. both the open access commons of the public domain and any other type of regime oriented towards the shared use of intellectual works. The appropriate protection and promotion of these two sectors of our intellectual commonwealth aspires to construct a vibrant non-commercial zone of creativity and innovation in parallel to intellectual property-enabled commodity markets of intellectual works.

***

Following the above, it is held that states are morally committed to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the freedom to contribute to the intellectual commons, thereby abstaining from its restriction through intellectual property laws, which are not compatible with international human rights treaties. In addition, the critical normative theory of the intellectual commons holds that the freedom to contribute to the intellectual commons ought to acquire statutory content substantive enough to give commoners the ability for its meaningful practice.

UWP has published several book titles all available open access including Peer to Peer (Bauwens et al), Incorporating the Digital Commons by Benjamin Birkinbine, The Commons: Economic Alternatives in the Digital Age (Vangelis Papadimitropoulos). Communication and Capitalism: A Critical Theory also discusses the ‘Communication Society as a Society of the Commons’.

Intellectual Commons and the Law was published on the 25 November 2020.

What Are the Commons? What Could They Be?

What Are the Commons? What Could They Be?

Vangelis Papadimitropoulos in a new open access book just published (The Commons: Economic Alternatives in the Digital Age) surveys theories of the commons: liberal, reformist and anti-capitalist. Discussing these three viewpoints, the book contributes to contemporary debates concerning the future of commons-based peer production (see also UWP’s Peer to Peer) and makes the case in the conclusion for a post-capitalist commons-orientated transition that moves beyond neoliberalism.

This title is the in the University of Westminster Press‘s Critical Digital and Social Media Studies series. All previously published titles are available open access via a variety of channels including OAPEN, JSTOR and DOAB. Other titles discussing the Commons published by UWP include Incorporating the Digital Commons by Benjamin Birkinbine and Communication and Capitalism by Christian Fuchs.

Supporting Open Access Monographs: Ingredients for a Prototype?

Supporting Open Access Monographs: Ingredients for a Prototype?

With the UKRI consultation on Open Access deadline imminent UWP’s Press Manager, Andrew Lockett wonders out loud what kind of additional pilot project to further encourage OA monographs might be worth considering. 

Calls to support public publishing infrastructure, ‘new’ ‘business’ models and alternative approaches to monograph publishing are popular. With the work of COPIM progressing well and building on established ventures like the Scholar-Led consortium, OBP and OLH (in journals) here are some thoughts about what a ambitious pilot scheme could look like. Caveats abound. Agreement between parties, governance and practicalities would be difficult in context. But could it be useful to think of values in the sector and consider the merits of a carrot- rather than stick-based approach? 

I have called it COUL after a long search for an upbeat acronym. 

Collective Open University Library – ­UK (Monographs Publishing).

Participating members based in UK universities should agree to match or add to new funding from UKRI/RLUK. The scheme should be based on a mixture of the best elements of the US TOME scheme (see https://www.openmonographs.org) which is a venture organised between the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and Association of University Presses (AUPresses) and the Lever Press idea: https://www.leverpress.org. The latter is a useful warning of dangers inherent. The premise is a good one but its outcomes in terms of published outputs have been modest in number, considering. For the scheme to work to optimum levels, experienced publishers should be paired with librarian experts and publishing-orientated academics to work towards lean governance and structures, each of whom should already be aware of the standpoint of the others and not just be ‘batting’ for their side. All three expertise groups being fully engaged in the project design would be vital for success. 

The basis of the scheme would be to encourage the following three elements:

I) Non-profit low cost monograph publishing at a local and small scale level that could be undertaken by any participating members.

II) Dissemination of open access monographs and awareness raising within the members.

III) The scheme would financially support publishing at those institutions that produce monographs working with a rubric that rewards activity in several ways:

  • based on the numbers of titles published to a maximum of 10 titles per imprint in the first instance but expand thereafter
  • based on the success in reaching audiences in views and downloads and other relevant metrics that may be developed 
  • recognise publications that go beyond tick-box equality, diversion and inclusion and demonstrate progressive orientation in the research or publication procedures, whether that be student co-creation, commons orientation, ethics aware citation practice, a focus on human well-being, and communications or impact strategy or outcomes that truly serve to educate
  • as the above implies the scheme should include a small element of research-into-teaching titles that focus on the communication of new research to undergraduate and graduate students in this author’s belief that bridges need to be built between research and teaching in scholarly communications that are being lost under current REF orientations

As a result a proportion of funding say 70% would be up-front based on submission. With 30% to follow reflecting delivery so that stronger projects are incentivised. The funding should be competitive (but not too competitive as to be greed-inducing) and be expressed over a period of a minimum of 5 years with the expectation that it could and would be renewed. I would recommend funding in the region of up to a maximum (depending on project scope) of£6000 per monograph to start with;£2500 for retrospective recognition. The idea would not to be to cover entirety of all costs of a publication in form of a ‘pure’ subsidy (though these sums can be sufficient) but to get publishing initiatives off the starting blocks with ‘seed and support funding’ on the basis of lists of titles not individual books. This weighting would bake in a degree of realism and discourage support of too long, ill-considered, very marginal publications that OA should not be considered the answer for – i.e. The ‘vanity’ publication or the ‘impractical’ monograph. Experimental publishing should be approached separately and via separate means: the ‘vanilla monograph’ hugely valuable as it is, poses enough challenges.  

The funding allocations would be agnostic about where it would be directed (to allow for local circumstances but also efficiency of existing providers). It would not include funding elements for research but would permit:

  1. Publication by traditional and new university presses
  2. Spending on publishing services by cost-effective third party private providers 
  3. Spend on in-house resources for the projects 
  4. Use of self-publishing services in conjunction with any of the above
  5. Non-intrusive monitoring of readership patterns of monographs funded for research purposes

The following priorities should be kept in mind:

  1. Encouragement of low-cost monograph production at all suitable sites with UK university libraries and those they work with or via scholarly associations and scholar-led groups. 
  2. High standards made visible, transparent, flexible but consistent. These should not necessarily just be concerned with technical or workflow orientated but also about the practice of wider ethics and community-building and based around ideas of a knowledge commons and aimed at the reduction of existing inequalities in the system across the university sector being considered a priority. 
  3. Raising of awareness of scholarly communications within specific academic communities as a prime objective of the scheme: those benefiting from funding could work with Jisc (perhaps?) on publication and marketing of specific tool kits to libraries and specific academic groups explaining merits to individuals and groups of publishing this way. 
  4. Directed support as a priority to humanities and social sciences and those STEM topics that do not receive grant support from funders. 
  5. Encouragement of publishers or groups who publish well, who use the opportunities afforded by open access and the internet proactively and not just to shore up existing workflows, sunk costs and unexamined overheads; operations that seek to keep costs and prices low with mission based motives and who do not seek to trade on exclusivity, elitism, ring-fencing and prestige; the scheme should look to encourage established operations willing to look at a different future as well as the new kids on the block.

The aim should be to create a vehicle with long term potential that learns from a variety of experiences and adjusts accordingly and build momentum over years. The starting point I would suggest might be 100-200 titles could be supported using collective subscription mechanisms similar to or building on those/working with those established by Open Book Publishers, Knowledge Unlatched (in its early days), Jisc, Open Library of Humanities or in the future by the COPIM project. It is important not to proliferate too many schemes rather focus on a maximum of 2-3 that could seriously and reliably build capacity. Perhaps one has to take the view in the light of the complexity and actors involved there is the risk ‘the perfect could be the enemy of the good’. But a bigger risk is that the ‘timid is the enemy of any improvement’ and might lead to further decades of OA monograph trench warfare, unintended consequences and heightened, even dangerous scholarly communications inequalities and resource concentration. The question for myself reconsidering whether COUL is possible, is at once, it is too ambitious or just not nearly ambitious enough?

ANDREW LOCKETT
Press Manager, University of Westminster Press
The views expressed are those of the author only and not the University of Westminster or agreed policy of the University of Westminster Press.

(Image blue sky, facing London)