Digital Manual – Challenges

In this post, we want to share some challenges that contextualize the development of the Digital Manual such as concerns with emerging forms of authorship, production and knowledge-making and how these might be intrinsic to processes of social formation.

For example, collaborative authorship does not sit very well within the copyright framework (Seville 2006) and while open-source models focus on sustaining collaborative production within the boundaries of existing IP regimes (Biagioli 2011), the motivations behind contributions to open source projects can be varied and it remains unclear how the incentive to create and contribute to a community compares to other motivations (Guibault 2011). Digital manuals employing open-source and co-creative practices indicate presence of motivations, meanings and value associated with use of open licensing as well as the process of collaborative authorship. This makes them a valuable premise to study the above tensions. Further, a focus on digital manuals created by creative communities can allow a richer and holistic study of these tensions, as they can be related to the broader nature and context of power and authority relevant to formation and continuation of such communities.

In our project, we are exploring the topics of authority, authorship and voice within this expanded domain of writing. We will be investigating both the structures of power (e.g. hierarchy, heterarchy, peer to peer, etc.) within creative communities as well as the authority and power of the manual itself, within and outside these communities (e.g. the relationship of the ‘manual’ with current regulatory frameworks, such as Intellectual Property law and, in particular, copyright).

We are most interested in the following two issues:

1. Representations and understandings of multi-authored digital texts (How do emerging technologies change social relations in the creation and publication of the book? How do the participants communicate within and beyond their community through a multi-voiced book? What are the shifts in authority and how does that impact upon what is communicated?)

2. The relationship between use of open source and changing notions of authorship, control and power (What are the various motivations behind the use of ‘open licensing’ and the value attributed to such use? What is the role and meaning of collaborative authorship for the participants? What is their perspective on notions of appropriation and attribution?)


Biagioli, M et al (2011) Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property. University of Chicago Press

Guibault, L & Angelopoulos, C (2011) Open content licensing: from theory to practice, Amsterdam University Press

Seville, C (2006) The Internationalisation of copyright law. Cambridge University Press

This entry was posted in Digital Manual. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply