Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Impressions

If you were to believe everything you read about the future of Australia’s literary culture in the mainstream press you’d be forgiven for imagining an environment in which skinny-jeaned bloggers and tweeters were glued to their iPads, busily breaking down the traditions of printed culture into some trendy remix ready to be uploaded to YouTube. And yet, over the last two decades (over the same time span, incidentally, that we’ve gone from plain-old-vanilla-web to “web 2.0”) there’s also been a steady growth in creative activities related to print publishing, like the production of small-scale book imprints, magazines and literary journals. The question is, why is this happening? Far from impediments to traditional publishing technologies, it seems like new media are facilitating the production of quality cultural publications...

Printed Matters is a three-year research project designed to interrogate this idea. One aim of the project is to offer a more balanced and considered take on issues related to the continuation of print culture and the development of a digital literary culture. Another major objective is to examine the practical experiences of those engaged with printed and digital publishing formats; the intention being that this information can be used by organizations and individuals who want to ensure the interests of those engaged in creative work which bridges the gap between print and digital culture are fairly and accurately represented. After all, many small-scale publishers have come of age in an era where technology and online media are ubiquitous tools for professional development, forming networks, collaboration and creative practice. Their work isn’t a case of ‘either/or’ when it comes to print and digital culture.

To make things more manageable, the project focuses on enterprises mostly based in or associated with Melbourne’s independent publishing community (and, given that Melbourne was recently designated a UNESCO City of Literature, there’s no better time and no better place for this research to begin). Here on this blog information about the project will be charted out, ideas discussed and comments and suggestions welcomed. From time to time the site will also serve as a first point for the collection of research data. It all sounds much more formal than it really is; in the first instance, blogs are a great way to start thinking out loud, even when you spend most of your time working quietly on your own, like I do.

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