The field of publishing has dramatically shifted and expanded in the recent social turn of the internet. We now have the means to constantly publish within digital networks in the form of status updates, short-form essays, comments, images, and much more. Networked sharing is increasingly part and parcel of everyday life. It is also more and more crucial to our work as designers: we are continually called upon to circulate our work in a multiplying set of channels and platforms, to build our brand and our audience.
In the conventional story line, the one-directional broadcasts of traditional print media have been disrupted by new digital technologies in which everyone is empowered to produce and circulate their messages. We will look closely at these claims surrounding new publishing forms: What are the actual publishing models of the different social media platforms? How does one participate and contribute to the network? What are the constraints on our participation? Who are the producers and who is the audience and how are these two connected?
Publishing is, essentially, making things public. It is a social action which occurs in particular architectural and discursive spaces. At the same time, the act of publishing creates its own social space. Indeed, the construction of a public space has long been understood to be the inherent political dimension of publishing. What are these spaces in which publishing actually takes place and which, in a curious circularity, the act of publishing itself creates? How public are these spaces? Does social media enlarge a public space of discourse, or does it turn the public into a marketplace? What is the difference?
Meanwhile, in relation to these digital and networked publishing forms, print persists. But it mutates, freed to open new aesthetic and political domains beyond the immediate burden of communication. Curiously parallel to the rise of social media, there has been an explosion of independently-produced publications, which circulate in self-organized offline communities. We will keep our eye on print, in its contemporary and historical forms, as a constant dialectical counterpart to the forms of the web.