Avoiding the Pixel Dust of the Manifesto

At the risk of beating an already sufficiently dead horse, I compared this piece to the Manifesto(s), and I came away with the impression that—if condensed to a single apothegm—the latter’s would be “practice digital anarchy by creatively undermining copyright,” while the former’s would be “to make sure humanities scholarship thrives, it is crucial that we cut through the fog of pixel dust–induced illusion to the practical realities of what digital technology offers to scholarship.” I liked how this piece formulated a more concrete plan for their call to action, and their call to action was to cut through the umbra that the Manifesto(s) seemed to lurk in.

While Drucker does not go into exhaustive detail, she does clarify certain points: “costs of ongoing maintenance,” paying for “highly skilled labor,” “servers, licenses.” She makes the point that books are cheaper than digital projects, a point that only adds to the gap between public and academic discourse. Drucker elaborates and clarifies on technical and fiscal concerns, but the issue that seems most salient to the PoCo and Capitalism D.H. is an awareness that “because much of the knowledge is currently being produced is at risk of being locked into silos and kept behind firewalls” and “large publicly supported projects need to succeed to keep intellectual life and public discourse vital.” The crossroads between public and academic discourse and capitalist and PoCo models is something the earlier texts skirted altogether, but Drucker’s seems to acknowledge the benefits that D.H. offers while not being hypnotized by their novelty.

She adds that “the much-touted “nonlinear” approach to composition is a choose-your-own-adventure model for grown-ups” and that “all manner of fantasies about crowdsourced, participatory knowledge generation that would essentially de-professionalize knowledge production.” This is a concern that was touched upon earlier: a hesitation to sacrifice expertise for the sake of open-access. How can D.H. be truly PoCo without some shift on that spectrum though? It seems that current standards are leaning too heavily on the capitalist side, but can that be prevented in a capitalist society? in a capitalist business like the academy? The age of D.H. obviously allows for the subaltern or the Other to speak, but is that voice drowned out in sea of other under-represented voices? Is that divide the new sea of PoCo, the great Atlantic that allows older white males to control discourse, commerce, and allows for a colonialism of the mind?