Week 3 – History of Publishing (Continued)

This week I will be continuing with the ‘history of printing and publishing’ topic. Last week I spoke of the general history and social impact of changing publishing techniques, while this week I will attempt to focus in on the specific techniques and machines used to implement these changes and why this transformation has occurred. Eisenstein writes that the printing press is an agent of change, and we can see this in the wide variety of publishing tools that are being created and changed within everyday life. The art of publishing, as well as the shift to digital publishing, has changed the social context in which people are able to engage with publications, and these new forms of ‘printing’ have changed the public sphere forever.

McLuhan wrote that printing created the ‘public’, and while the public ‘sphere’ used to be able to be brought together through publications, new media technologies and techniques mean that we have seen a divergence in the variety of publishing devices, which in turn has changed audiences and publishers from past to present. The increased mobility of media devices has shifted the power of publication from the printers to the public, which has changed the very nature of audiences and how they are able to react to the media. With contemporary publishing always changing and transforming, publishers have historically had to react and change their methods in order to appeal to an ever changing audience.

A scientific revolution, based on the sharing and creation of published data, has made technology pivotal in challenging the existing text based literacy that many traditional publishers have used throughout time. New media evolutions and directions have made publishing easier than ever before, and because of this, we now see publishing as a constantly changing, dynamic phenomenon that has changed audiences and the mass media forever.

Publishing has come a long way - From purely print media to the diverse range of platforms we see today!

Publishing has come a long way – from purely print media to the hundreds of platforms we have today!

Now this is where this weeks word comes in! An assemblage is a text that is adapted from older versions in order to suit a new context. This is able to blur the line between invented and borrowed work. An obvious example of this is music that has been ‘remixed’ to suit modern audiences. Due to the fast moving nature of publishing and how quickly publishers are made to adapt, assemblages may be able to allow publishers to gain some sort of control over the content audiences are able to see. Again, one prime example springs to mind when I think of this, and that is the concept of a paywall. A paywall is a system which prevents users from accessing site content without a paid subscription. By doing this, publishers can not only boost revenue, but also increase the number of their print subscribers, again changing the nature of new publishing platforms and giving publishers a degree of control over their audience.

Overall, it is clear to see that with the advent of technology and a diverse range of publishing platforms, the history of publishing tools and techniques has changed forever. Even in the present, publishing is a dynamic force that is constantly changing to order to adapt to the new types of audiences being formed by new publishing devices. This change is key to understanding the social impact publishing has had on the general public.


McLuhan, M. (1962) The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of the Typographic Man, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London

Week 2 – History of Publishing

My confidence is high after my first successful blog post and I want to try and keep the ball rolling this week! Week 2 in the ARTS2090 course dealt with the history and transformation of publishing, from printing, all the way to the digital and networked media. Now smoke signals and hieroglyphs aren’t really my strong suit, but can tell you that older forms of publishing often left a large amount of power in the publisher’s hands, and often held a ‘monopoly of knowledge’ in terms of information. But now, that has changed, as the public is able to research their own information and make their own decision based on the publications that they see and can empathize with.

Elizabeth Eisenstein writes that with a greater abundance of information available, people have an increased opportunity to consult and compare different texts, whereas in the past, editorial decisions made by early printers helped to reorganize the thinking of readers. With the great technological shift of recent times, major media platforms such as the internet and  devices such as tablets have made publishing easier due to the wide variety of options available to the public, allowing them to make their own decision on the topic depending on what they have read, rather than what has been forced down their throats!

Digital and networked media has seen a complete shift in power towards society, rather than  a central media platform. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter dominate the publishing sphere on the internet as it is quick and easy to get your opinion across to both your followers and the general public. These sites have completely transformed the relationship between the publisher and the audience, as it is no longer a linear process, but a more organic structure that blurs the lines between being a part of the public or becoming a publisher yourself, altering the power publishers used to hold over their audience.


The alphabet in its simplest form!

Again, time to finish with our word of the week, alphabet. The only thing I can say about this is that we have to use it to publish our thoughts, and it is one of the only things that has remained fairly consistent through the transformation of publishing from past to present. I imagine it will be around for a little while longer too!


Eisenstein, E. (1979) “Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture”, in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change vol. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 43-163

Week 1 – Modes of Publishing

My first ever blog post – here goes nothing! Week 1 of the ARTS2090 course spoke of the different modes of publishing and how it has transformed over time. Publishing, in its simplest form, is to make something public, pretty basic, yes I know, but what is more interesting is the changing nature of publishing and the social impacts it has had on the world. Quoting a line from the people at the Institute for the Future of the Book, ‘the printed page is giving way to the networked screen’, and in an increasingly digital age, publishing to the public has become easier than ever before.

Nowadays, with technology moving so fast, there are so many different platforms to publish works for audiences to see worldwide. A big factor in this shift is the internet, and as this blog shows, all I have to do is give my email address, set up a password and begin publishing my thoughts all around the world, for anyone to see! As John Naughton writes in the guardian, the iPad is altering the very concept of print publishing, meaning the ‘book’ may change under pressure from these new publishing platforms.

For me, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as websites such as YouTube have completely changed the dimensions of publishing in recent times. Also, the increase in popularity of the blog, as well as the movement of other mobile media such as music and video mean that contemporary modes of publishing have altered the way audiences, or publics, look at published works. I believe the main driving force behind this change is the internet and how quickly it is able to move information instantaneously around the world, put simply, it has changed the publishing world forever.


The Amazon Kindle – one of the e-readers that has changed the way we look at print media forever!

Of course, I’m not allowed to finish this blog without one special word from the lecture, and I do believe it is playing a big part in the change of publishing platforms. E-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle and the iBookstore on the iPad have changed the way we look at publishing platforms forever. To me, nothing will beat physically holding the printed book in front of your eyes, however, in this digital age, convenience and speed are king, and being able to hold hundreds of books on one device is always going to be easier than carrying kilos of books in your backpack. Its easier to read, store information and is basically the ‘new’ way, so I should probably jump on the bandwagon!


“Mission Statement”, Institute for the Future of the Book, <http://www.futureofthebook.org/mission.html> [accessed 6 March 2013]

Naughton, J. (2010) “Publishers take note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book'”, The Guardian, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/19/ipad-publishing-kindle-books-apple> [accessed 6 March 2013]