Wingert: HT 2000

0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

Publishing Issues

The panel on "Publishing Issues" was introduced by Mark Bernstein saying that he, as he worked in a publishing company, would not offer his personal opinions and intervene only occasionally, in which case he would don a cap. The panel consisted of three persons whose introductory statements I will cover briefly and then single out a few points of the discussion afterwards.

Christine Boese (Clemson University) spoke about her difficulties having a doctoral thesis in the form of a hypertext accepted by the faculty staff. As she explained in greater detail in a different section on Friday afternoon, she finally succeeded by finding a compromise consisting of a printed section containing the most important conclusions and the references (approx. 70 pages), and a CD-ROM on which the HT could be explored. The subject refers to "Xenaverse," an offer built around the TV character of "Xena, Warrior Princess" mainly set up by fans, which was studied under an ethnographic approach and, being launched for the web, could hardly have been reproduced on paper. This was the purpose of initial attempts to make Boese give up her HT plan. Not without pride she remarked how she had been supported by "beta readers" in this cyber community, and that she still received feedback about her work. 

Stuart Moulthrop (University of Baltimore), the second speaker on the panel, inter alia followed up on the merger of Time Warner and AOL of last year, asking whether this conglomeration of market power marked not only the end of the millennium but also the end of some other things. He raised the question whether the "non-conglomerized publishing practices," such as Xenaverse, Eastgate or other small companies, were able to coexist with such global players in a common cultural, technical, and economic space. Moulthrop's statements can be interpreted to imply that he would not be ready to answer this question in the affirmative. 

A different opinion was expressed by Scott McCloud, the third panel member. Although he, too, realized the enormous sums of money that were invested in the internet, he felt sure that users would be able, with increasing internet experience, to find those services which were really useful to them, and that the large portals now being built up also appeared to be like bubbles, likely to burst quickly once one had seen through the illusion. 

Right after these introductory statements, long queues of participants wanting to join in the debate formed behind the microphones in the hall. As there were no leading questions or criteria to follow, the discussion was rather varied and diverse, ranging from copyright infringement, to working with search engines, to international law, to the basic infrastructure for micropayment schemes. May be, one line of discussion could be singled out from these contributions, namely the question, raised by Moulthrop, of the coexistence and compatibility of large and small structures, e.g, how and in what way powerful companies on the market influence placement on search engines, how monopolies, such as Microsoft, can also exert pressure on content provides (one speaker reminded of the way in which an important collection of photographs, the Barnes collection, had been purchased), and what the relation was between open source movements and those powers which, like Eastgate, are required to live on their contents. This was a point at which Mark Bernstein put on his cap and very pointedly warned against fitting a halo on the open source people because, allegedly, they pursued only altruistic purposes. However, it is certainly an interesting fact that, as Moulthrop added, even Xanadu now joined this movement which, all the years before, had been carefully screened by Nelson.

0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 > 6 - 7 - 8