From Print Culture to Electronic Culture

By Chippindale, Christopher | Antiquity, December 1997 | Go to article overview

From Print Culture to Electronic Culture


Chippindale, Christopher, Antiquity


Paper-publishing as a model for electronic publishing

For centuries, scholarship in the western tradition has centred on printed books as the defining medium by which it expresses and preserves knowledge. Ask in the rare-books library for a source of scholarly understanding about Stonehenge which is a full five centuries old, Caxton's Chronicle of England of 1482, and you find a printed volume which as a physical object astonishingly resembles a book about Stonehenge of 1982 or of 1998 - in its alphabet of standardized letters adapted from hand-written forms, in its black ink on folded paper, in its binding, in the size, the shape and the number of pages, in the type-size, the line spacing and the margins to the page, in the divisions by paragraphs and chapters, in the ordering, indexing and conventions of its contents. Already old in the 15th century - for these conventions derived from the habits of the copied manuscripts - that standard format shapes scholarly knowledge to this day. We call a spoken communication at a meeting 'a paper' for the material on which it would be printed if it were to be printed - even when its words were never written down on paper, but extemporized. We question whether a form of knowledge impossible to convey in print, such as a mathematical proof existing as an immense iterative computer program, actually amounts to a proper demonstration to be valued equally with a printed-paper proof. We worry if data existing only electronically and nowhere in book form are sufficiently proper or secure to count as real knowledge. When it comes to assessments, those of us who work in electronic media fear that those outputs will not be respected equally with printed media because they are not 'proper' publications. These habits run so deep that they shape the names of the concepts involved: the word 'publication' means the making of something public, but we narrow it to mean the making of something public in printed-book format.

No wonder, then, that electronic publication uses metaphors drawn from the world of printed paper: what appears on the computer screen is structured as if it were a desktop covered with paper documents, and the electronic information itself resides in 'files' as paper documents do. That metaphor and parallel with paper publishing structures the World Wide Web, where the basic unit is called a 'page' - even though the technical concerns which shape a printed page and make it a unit of quantity in the print do not apply to that electronic medium.(1) Many of the evolving and established conventions of print are being transferred into the electronic media. Some are not: most printed scholarly publication is monochrome, nearly all electronic publishing is colour. Other habits, especially those by which the nature of the knowledge conveyed is signalled by print conventions, are being transformed in the transferring.

Print conventions and the nature of knowledge in printed form

A consistent feature of print publishing has been and is the separation of the roles taken by the author and by the editor/publisher, whose job is to select from what is written and might be published that smaller portion which comes to be published. That separation removes the decision as to whether to publish, and the exact form it takes, from the domain of the self-publishing author alone into that of the editor/publisher, who has the benefit of being distanced from the intimacy of its creation. Publishing at an author's expense and request, without any independence of editorial view, is called 'vanity publishing' because it is seen to flatter the author without regard to the actual merit of the work issued.

Generally, more - often much more - is or might be written than is published; typically, scholarly book and journal publishers turn down much of what is offered to them. This is a first filtering process, which reduces how much is published.

That selection process is, or is intended to be, systematic: the editor/publisher chooses the better amongst what is available. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

From Print Culture to Electronic Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.