The Project

This project is funded by the AHRC under its Digital Transformations in Arts and Humanities theme. It is based at the University of Edinburgh and will run from 1st February 2012 to 1 August 2012. The project primarily engages with the sub-theme “Text: Authority and Power” with the research focus being the ‘Digital Manual’: a model of emergent multi-authored publication employing open source and co-creative practices.

Digital manuals, or emerging forms of the book, function as a resource and platform for digital practitioners, including artists, in their use and manipulation of technology for new forms of writing and publishing. It allows a co-creative community to arise through this interaction of agents (e.g. technology, users) and has serious implications for notions of control and ownership over resulting creations. When such digital manuals are developed, used and shared by creative communities, it enables them to employ technology to change the contours of their creative practice and how it is accorded peer recognition, thus shaping the creative community itself. More broadly, the development of the Digital Manual is contextualised by concerns with emerging forms of authorship, production and knowledge-making and how these might be intrinsic to processes of social formation.

The project will look at how the Digital Manual can be a paradigm for exploring multi-authorship, co-creation and publication in other digitised textual forms as well as how it can have relevance to the analogue book and serve as a premise to learn valuable lessons. Specifically, it will explore authority, authorship and voice within this expanded domain of writing. It will investigate 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).

As part of the project, the research team, based at the University of Edinburgh will be:

a) developing a multi-disciplinary research network (details of the network members can be found here)

b) conducting a scoping study of open source creative communities (details of the four creative communities who will be the case studies can be found here)

c) organising a two day research workshop in Edinburgh on 2-3 July 2012 (details of the workshop can be found here)

*Please note that this project has now been successfully completed and this page provides the initial aims and activities that were proposed for the project.*