Report on Radical Networks in Berlin

I went to Radical Networks in Berlin (19-21 October 2018). It was a very inspiring experience and I took notes feverishly for 3 days. The program was diverse and inclusive, in-depth but accessible to non-techies. I worked out the notes of the talks that I found especially interesting a bit further and added references below.

Creative economics

Workshop by: Saraswathi Subbaraman & Sarah Friend

In the introduction to their workshop, Saraswathi and Sarah pinpoint an issue that is central in thinking about new economic systems:

“All of the networks we hope to build sit atop or are funded within a financial system that was designed neither for us, nor by us.”

How can we start to think outside of what we know, what gets funded, or what we take for granted? Oftentimes when I take part in a discussion about future, fairer economies, it’s relatively easy to agree on some shared values in a small group, but when that has to be transformed into a larger ecosystem, diversity either gets squashed or capitalist logics creep back in. To open up new ways of thinking about currency and economic systems, we were presented with a series of ‘what ifs’ and examples of those imaginaries actually existing:

What if it was impossible to hoard money

For example: The Miracle of Worgl. During the Great Depression in the 30s, the town of Worgl in Austria introduced banknotes that had to get an official stamp every month denoting that the owner payed their taxes for owning the banknote. In effect, this meant that banknotes would decrease in value the longer you store them, dis-incentivizing what is known in the cryptocurrency world as hodling.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C3%B6rgl#/media/File:Freigeld1.jpg

What if care work were valued?

For example: Fureai Kippu, Japanese systems for making care work transferable and storable. These systems rewards care for the elderly with a complementary currency. You might exchange this currency to pay for care of your own parents (for example if you live in a different city than they do), or story the currency to pay for your own care needs later on in life.

What if sustainability were rewarded?

For example: Regen Network, which is a blockchain-based system that aims to “create a systemic multi-stakeholder, market-driven solution to facilitate verifiable ecological outcomes.” (Regen Network whitepaper) Although this example doesn’t break with basic market logics and profit drive, it does try to establish a more holistic understanding of industry and value, tying varified ecological impact to end products.

Source: screenshot from Regen.Network

What if currency was an oral history?

For example: Rai stones, a currency system on the Micronesian island of Yap that had its hayday between 1000 and 1400 AD. Giant stones were used to represent value, and ownership needed to be recorded in oral history, meaning that stealing the physical stone didn’t mean stealing its value, it would still be known who the owner was. This went so far that stones lost in the ocean could still be used, because their stories would not be lost. In fact, stones that were hard to make, or had a lot of history to them were worth more.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rai_stones#/media/File:Yap_Stone_Money.jpg

What if currency were equally distributed?

For example: Circles, a project that Saraswathi and Sarah are involved in through their work at ConsenSys. It is a blockchain-based system that distributes a basic income and incentivizes cooperation and spending within the network in order to make a global and equally distributed economic system.

Source: screenshot of joincircles.net

After these examples, we split up into groups to discuss our own imaginary future societies and their currencies (my group imagined a network of alien squids that used information about food and danger as a currency 🐙💾).

Common themes among the groups were

  • reputation as a system of reward
  • webs of trust as central features, where the system as a whole might be scaled, but the trust circle remains human-sized.
  • it might be difficult to interface between the different system (one group actually imagined ‘harvesting’ (i.e. killing) our group’s squids, because the squids had needs that didn’t fit in their system).

Talking to one of the groups afterwards, I learned that they had defined their core values before doing anything else, which led to a well thought-out system.

Alt-Right Memes

Talk by: Clusterduck

Source: screenshot of delicios.clusterduck.space

Clusterduck is an interdisciplinary filmmaking, design, research collective that investigates internet content, its creators and the platforms its spread on.

This year the idea that the alt right got connected through the means of memes gained traction. Soon after, responses to this idea critiqued the way it took responsibility away from the left. Clusterduck wants to investigate what the actual influence of the memes is, and advocate for new methods to do this research.

A lot of the data that alt-right memes research is based on, comes from Reddit and Twitter, because their APIs allow for the most thorough extraction. Only a subsection of alt-right people are based on these platforms though, and it is important to look at places like Facebook and YouTube as well.

Although Facebook gave scholars access to petabytes of data on misinformation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this data is only accessible to institutionalized academics. Experimental forms of research like Clusterduck is doing are excluded from investigating it. This limits the types of knowledge that can be created.

In their research, Clusterduck adds several databases together (e.g. data from Know Your Meme, 4chan, Twitter, Reddit, and Gab, the ‘alt-rights answer to being censored on Twitter’) to create a wider body of resources. Their algorithm clusters the images and annotates them with information about where they first appeared for instance to allow for further analysis.

While it is interesting to research these memes, they are floating signifiers: they constantly change in meaning and connotation. Memes are appropriated by the left and the right, and defy definite meaning, so classifying them as for example hatespeech is very difficult to do.

Resources:

Meme research
Internet fame
Meme Manifesto

Decentralization

Talk by: Sarah Friend

In her talk, Sarah Friend (of ConsenSys) problematized the decentralization movement. Decentralization has become a hyped word, used without actually thinking about what it means and which phenomena might benefit from not being decentralized.

The ‘de’ in decentralization suggests that it is everything/anything that is ‘other than’ centralized, but this obscures the fact that it is actually not such a binary space. Decentralization is often defined politically (local governments) or organizationally (large organizations that decentralize), but it also holds within it a certain free-market rationale (away from centralized regulation).

While the web is often perceived as having started as a very decentralized system that has been centralized during the past decade through platformization, the original Arpanet was actually quite centralized: accessible only via universities and some large corporations.

Sarah wants to think about the possibility of an intersectional kind of decentralization: one made up of several decentralized systems (geographically, architecturally (IT), in governance, wealth, etc). Before we can build these kinds of systems there are several things we need to consider:

An area that is often left out of decentralization discussions is hardware manufacturing. These processes are in fact highly centralized, and vulnerable to political shifts and natural disasters. There are some examples of decentralized hardware (e.g. Librerouter and Makerbot) but they lack the precision that’s needed to build computers.

While open source is often used as a way to signal decentralized software buidling, but there are actually only a few contributors (e.g. 52% of Github commits are made by 1% of contributors and similar statistics exist on other platforms). Not everyone has the time or the skills to contribute, and it’s worth contemplating whether it would be beneficial to society if many more people did spend time building software. At what cost to other specializations would this come?

Sarah ends her talk raising questions about what is enough decentralization, what kind of decentralization is needed, and who it is serving.

Digital / physical colonization

Talk by: Taller de Casqueria

Artist Taller de Casqueria talks about his project Black Islands, that investigates the land disputes over islands in the South China Sea in which digital means are used to prove ownership.

There are international standards for determining which country owns which parts of the sea, based on how many miles away it is from a coast. Being surrounded by Vietnam, China, the Philippines and other countries, and being rich in natural resources, islands in the South China Sea are especially valuable. If a country can claim ownership over it, that means their ownership over the surrounding waters can also be claimed.

Traditionally, to claim ownership a country would need to physically occupy the island, but the ‘war’ can now also be waged through digital means: writing and rewriting Wikipedia articles, tagging images to a specific location on Google Earth. This is particularly present in some of the errors that exist on Google Earth, represented by black spots over islands on the map. The representation of a certain ownership of a locality around the internet becomes a method to colonize them as actual territory.

Source: screenshot from video at https://vimeo.com/208524997

Resource:

Video of the project

Pirate Radio

Talk by: Larisa Mann

Larisa Mann researches the use of pirate radio (broadcasting without a license) by minority communities in the UK and USA. In England, poor people historically live in high-rises at the edges of cities. This is especially practical in pirate broadcasting, because listeners will be geographically concentrated and the radio waves will be less obstructed by trees and other buildings.

Larissa is interested in the economic systems that exist through these pirate stations, the identities that are constructed, and the way people interact and claim space. She sees that often stations come into being around specific diasporic communities, like Haitian-Americans or British-Caribean people.

The term ‘exilic spaces’ refers to the way people are making relationships between each other in these diasporic communities that are not wholly defined by colonial systems or local dominant cultures. In these spaces, borders are important and need to be defended, access is regulated. This means that anyone that enters this exilic space, enters on the terms of the people that constructed the space. (This clashed with the spirit of openness that reigns e.g. in the Bay Area.)

Even though web radio and podcasts made the phenomenon of a limited radio spectrum a thing of the past, pirate radio is still a flourishing scene. This may be due to the central cultural significance of the radio (in relation to low literacy rates) in some of the countries of origin of these diaspora (Larissa gives the example of Haiti).

Photo taken at Radical Networks. The map of FCC piracy actually shows only ‘conflict’ (people calling in to report piracy), actually existing piracy is even more widespread.

By broadcasting and listening to pirate radio stations, Larisa says people are:

  • claiming space
  • circulating resources and information specific to their minority
  • continuing specific cultural histories
  • creating community (listening to radio might be done individually, but because of the shared time, people feel a connection, a shared experience)

Alternative ways that radio technologies are used are:

  • using mobile minutes to call into radio stations (not to talk, but just to listen). This was for instance done a lot in the aftermath of the earthquacke in Haiti to get access to important information.
  • Cambodian people have a system where they conference call with 1000 people and use the call as a way to broadcast a pirate radio station.

Resources

Central figure in NYC (pirate) radio scene: David Goren

Speculative Network Topologies

Talk by Max Symuleski, with simultaneous video performance by Rebecca Uliasz

<I was so wrapped up in the talk / performance that I forgot to take notes, but I do want to mention this here because it left a big impression. I will add the video when it is published.>

Networks are generally visualized as a collection nodes interconnected by edges. Max reimagines networks through a more Deleuzian lens, and asks us to let other senses than the visual guide the representation of the network. In the description of the talk they write: “What would a social network look like if it were modeled after the fluid dynamics of water?” and “Following network theorist Tiziana Terranova, we suggest that contemporary internet network models derived from graph theory and based on the diagrammatic “node” and “edge” deploy economic reductions of society that re-inscribe capitalist logic.” How can we make a model of a network without conforming to this logic? What can we learn from the tactics of culture jamming, from moments of radical connection and from the existence of noise?

Central take-aways

  • Not necessarily represented in these notes, but a recurring topic was the importance of thinking about the natural resources needed to make these systems work (e.g. the Low Tech Magazine mentioned below).
  • It is necessary to consciously break out of current parameters in order to come up with radically new systems.
  • Decentralization is not an end in itself, it needs to be questioned and used to serve a specific purpose.
  • Local networks are important to support specific needs of local communities.
  • Who are these networks build by and for? Who is included? Who needs to be heard to make more inclusive networks?
  • Don’t forget what we know from older media (radio waves were central, but also things like PiratePad, on the ground activism and community building) and be aware of the large geopolitical employment of digital tactics.

Additional interesting projects that were presented at Radical Networks

Boattr: mesh networks on the canals of the UK

Sea-watch.org: fighting fortress Europe by mapping and rescuing in the Mediterranean, collaboration with Forensic Oceanography

Low-tech Magazine: building a low-tech website that is so small it can be solar powered and raises awareness about the use of energy while browsing.

Scuttlebutt: an off the grid, p2p gossiping protocol

ISEMS: independent solar energy mesh systems.

Pocket FM: connecting internet and radio, to use in hard to reach areas.

Rootio: community radio as a means in crisis response.

Networks of One’s Own: collective, periodical writing

Tactical Archives: making the counter-cultural history of the internet in Brazil accessible.

Floating Swarm: art in the interstices of networks, to be viewed using Beaker Browser.

Weaponized Design: how interfaces direct us

OBP blogs on tour

We have recently contributed to two other blogs to talk about ScholarLed, the new OA consortium we have joined; and about the importance of Open Access publishing and what it can offer to authors. Catch up with those posts here!

OBP blogs on tour

We have recently contributed to two other blogs to talk about ScholarLed, the new OA consortium we have joined; and about the importance of Open Access publishing and what it can offer to authors. Catch up with those posts here! … Continue reading

Black Joy: African Diasporic Religious Expression in Popular Culture

Inspired by the recent Black Perspectives “W.E.B. Du Bois @ 150” Online Forum, SO!’s “W.E.B. Du Bois at 150” amplifies the commemoration of the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Du Bois’s birth in 2018 by examining his all-too-often and all-too-long unacknowledged role in developing, furthering, challenging, and shaping what we now know as “sound studies.”

It has been an abundant decade-plus (!!!) since Alexander Weheliye’s Phonographies “link[ed] the formal structure of W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk to the contemporary mixing practices of DJs” (13) and we want to know how folks have thought about and listened with Du Bois in their work in the intervening years.  How does Du Bois as DJ remix both the historiography and the contemporary praxis of sound studies? How does attention to Du Bois’s theories of race and sound encourage us to challenge the ways in which white supremacy has historically shaped American institutions, sensory orientations, and fields of study? What new futures emerge when we listen to Du Bois as a thinker and agent of sound?

Over the last two months, we have shared work that reimagines sound studies with Du Bois at the center. Pieces by Phillip Luke SinitiereKristin MoriahAaron Carter-ÉnyìAustin Richey and Julie Beth Napolin move us toward a decolonized understanding and history of sound studies, showing us how has Du Bois been urging us to attune ourselves to it. To start the series from the beginning, click here.

Readers, today’s post by Vanessa Valdés closes our series: she explores the limits of Du Bois’ echo chamber metaphor within the context of a Black diaspora that looks past the white gaze and within its spiritual practices for recognition.

–Jennifer Lynn Stoever and Liana Silva, Eds.


In “The Concept of Race,” the fifth chapter of his autobiography Dawn of Dusk (1940), W. E. B. Du Bois theorizes the psychological damage of caste segregation using the metaphor of the echo chamber. He writes of being imprisoned within a mountain, looking out, speaking “courteously” and yet remaining unnoticed: “the passing throng does not even turn its head, or if it does, glances curiously and walks on” (66). As per Du Bois’s imagery, white supremacist segregation renders Black subjects ultimately unintelligible, even to themselves, as they “may scream and hurl themselves against the barriers, hardly realizing in their bewilderment that they are screaming in a vacuum unheard and that their antics may actually seem funny to those outside looking in” (66). Du Bois railed against the irreparable harm that results from legal and cultural separation of people on the basis of race; he focuses on the interactions between Black communities and a dominant white supremacist society, highlighting the damage inflicted by Black peoples upon Black peoples themselves when they continually attempt to prove their humanity to a white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal imperialist population in control of socioeconomic political systems within the United States and in fact throughout the Americas.

What then? Du Bois presents a vision in which there is no room, literal or figurative, for resistance to this seemingly pervasive surveillance that, in the words of Jennifer Stoever in The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (2016), renders peoples of African descent “soundproofed yet hypervisible, constantly on display for the curiosity of the white gaze” (260). If there continues to be a search for acceptance, for recognition and acknowledgement of one’s humanity on behalf of “the white gaze,” what happens when it does not come? This essay presents a select history of musicians who, irrespective of a white audience, and in the face of a seemingly flattened definition of Blackness that is limited to an adherence to the Black (Christian) Church here in the United States, instead channel their multiple identities by invoking the orishas of the religion of Regla de Ocha. In it are aspects of Black culture that remain, in the words of E. Patrick Johnson in “Black Performance Studies: Genealogies, Politics, Futures,” “illegible and unintelligible to the undiscerning eyes and ears, and perhaps minds, of some scholars.” These artists resist the urge to explain, defying an unspoken dictate that their art must be completely comprehensible to all who interact with it. They draw from source material that for millions internationally is a viable source of inspiration on its own terms, without elucidation.

“Diasporic Genius Apprenticeship Program (D-GAP)” by Flickr user Diasporic Genius, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Known alternately as Santería, Yoruba, Lucumí, and Ifa, this religion, like others of the African diaspora in the Americas, call for their practitioners—formal initiates or simply those who show respect and affinity—to achieve balance on the paths to their destiny. According to Regla de Ocha, human beings, like the nature that surrounds us, are sparks of the divine made manifest; practitioners interact with the environment in order to reach said equilibrium through intoned supplications. While associated primarily with Black populations of the Hispanic Caribbean, those who are faithful are found throughout the hemisphere and in fact, throughout the world. 

 

In the anglophone world of Black music here in the United States, critics have written about the multiple influences of gospel on the development of rhythm and blues and other musical genres, as made patently evident in Aretha Franklin’s homegoing services as well as Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom (1986). Within the luso-hispanophone audiences in this hemisphere, there has been a similar inclusion of African diasporic religious music within popular genres. Prayers and chants within popular music and literature reflect systems of knowledge that have undergirded communities of African descent for centuries on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout this hemisphere. Those who know, who can see and hear those resonances, for them, there is no regard for the understanding of a dominant white audience; it is simply not for them. And it is here, in the knowledge that these works invoke systems of being that are inaudible and unappetizing to mass consumption, where one can wrestle out of the echo chamber.

“Gospel singers” by Flickr user Elin B, CC BY 2.0

In this series for Sounding Out!, Aaron Carter-Ényì has written about Du Bois’s theories on sound; on his musical transcriptions in The Souls of Black Folk (1903); the African retentions of the Gullah-Geechee population (1903); and the resonance of the drum within African music itself The World and Africa (1947). However, Du Bois did not look to a growing Spanish-speaking population that had migrated from the Hispanic Caribbean, particularly Cuba and Puerto Rico, that would also provide him evidence of the continued African heritage. As historian Nancy Raquel Mirabal writes in Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957 (2017), these men and women were working-class economic migrants, the majority of whom were of African descent: Black Cubans and Puerto Ricans arrived in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, immediately impacted the musical scene. This would give way to the explosion of musical forms popularized here, including conga, mambo, rumba, cha-cha-cha, and later, salsa. (See César Miguel Rondón, The Book of Salsa: A Chronicle of Urban Music from the Caribbean to New York City, 2008.) All of these musical forms grow out of religious African music; the rhythms of religious ceremonies provide the literal foundation out of which these genres flourish. Practitioners can parse out these inflections; those without this knowledge simply engage. Those who know, know; those who make the music do so without consideration for exposition.

A 1950s U.S. audience witnessed Lucy Ricardo visit her husband Ricky at the club and sing “Babalu”; backed by his orchestra, it was originally a hit for Desi Arnaz in 1947 on RCA Victor records.  In a later episode, Ricky would be backed by his young son, in an effort to demonstrate the continued influence of his Cuban heritage. Hector Lavoe’s “Aguanile” (1978) remains a classic both within his catalog as well as the larger genre of Salsa’s golden era of the 1970s; his labelmate Celia Cruz’s “A Santa Barbara” is a remake of Celina González and Reutilio Jr.’s 1949 hit of the same name. In this century, Carlinhos Brown released “Aganjú” in 2003, a year after his compatriot, Bebel Gilberto found success with her version in Brazil. In the United States, a remix of Gilberto’s adaptation was featured on the soundtrack of the HBO show Six Feet Under. In the last minute of their first hit, “River” (2015), the Ibeyi break their allegorical ode to the Oshun by making plain the entity to which they sing. On the same release, they sing to the entity associated with transformation in a song of her name, “Oya.”  Daymé Arocena begins her 2017 release, Cubafonía, with “Eleggua,” he of the crossroads.  Beginning with their 2015 debut “3 Mujeres” Ìlé have consistently brought together religious music with current soul and hip hop to larger audiences.

As these examples attest, there is at play an ethics of representation that is often misunderstood by non-practitioners of these religions; it is one that privileges confidentiality over explication. In a post-Enlightenment world that places emphasis on logic and reason, there exists a demand that everything be explained, be made legible. And yet, not everything is for everybody. Matters of spirit do not easily co-exist within Cartesian epistemological systems that demand bifurcation between the head and the heart. Within African diasporic religions – not only the ones mentioned here but also others including Palo Monte, Vodou, Obeah, Macumba, Candomblé – there is respect for the seemingly inexplicable. There is room for the miraculous, for that which can be found outside the realms of what has been deemed reasonable by systems of European thought. There is room for faith. And it is this kind of faith that practitioners of these Black religions – artists and scholars alike – respect when they refuse to explain the source of their joy, a joy I like to call “Black joy.”

Beyoncé’s Lemonade (2016) fits into this oeuvre; here, the world’s biggest pop star produced a work of art grounded in Black experiences of the Caribbean basin, including her family’s U.S. Southern Black heritage in Texas and Louisiana. While notable for a great many features, for some the most invigorating part was the incorporation of visual allusions to sacred entities well-known to and easily recognized by practitioners of West African and African diasporic religions throughout the Americas. (For a sample of the analyses that emerged, see here, here, and here.) The inclusion of these markers situated Beyoncé firmly within this long tradition of the ability of Black artists in this hemisphere to employ imagery, particularly that related to religious traditions outside of orthodox Christianity, as a means by which to invoke more full, three-dimensional expressions of racial, gendered, and sexual identities. In Oshun’s Daughters: The Search for Womanhood in the Americas (2014), I wrote about how women writers from United States, Cuba, and Brazil, writers such as Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, Cristina García, Nancy Morejón, and Conceição Evaristo, among others, all reference entities from these religions as a means by which to include complex portraits of womanhood in their work.

“Gospel” by Flickr user Geoffrey Froment, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To return to Du Bois’s echo chamber, the invocation of these entities allows practitioners to leave the mountain; there is no gazing to a mainstream culture for whom these prayers may be unintelligible. There is little consideration of explaining every element; again, those who know, know. They recognize a greater significance of the images, and are able to acknowledge allusions to whole systems of thought that are foundational to Black expressive cultures. These artists move forward accordingly. In 1926, The Nation published Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” and his words continue to resonate: “We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear to shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. [..] We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.” The white gaze of which Du Bois writes has no power in this formulation; instead, there is a turn away from the dominant white supremacist culture toward the richness that Black cultures offer. There is no flinging up against the metaphorical glass, no exhaustion in continued attempts to get them to acknowledge our humanity. They simply do not matter.

In her first novel, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo (1982), Ntozake Shange writes: “Drums and chanting ran thru the lush backwoods of Louisiana. Sassafras liked to think the slaves would have been singing like that, if the white folks hadn’t stolen our gods. Made our gods foreign to us […]” (214). The work of these artists suggests that These gods open up so many other possibilities for Black lives in the United States. These entities remain with those who choose to see, hear, and feel their presence, and even with those who don’t. They tried to make our gods foreign to us: they failed.

Featured image: “Woman dancing African dance in the street, São Paulo downtown” By The Photographer [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Vanessa K. Valdés is associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at The City College of New York; she is the editor of Let Spirit Speak! Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora (2012) and The Future Is Now: A New Look at African Diaspora Studies (2012) and the book review editor of sx salon.  She is the author of Oshun’s Daughters: The Search for Womanhood in the Americas (2014). 

REWIND! . . .If you liked this post, you may also dig:

Spaces of Sounds: The Peoples of the African Diaspora and Protest in the United States–Vanessa Valdes

Troubling Silence: Sonic and Affective Dispossessions of the African Slave Trade–Michelle Commander

“I Love to Praise His Name”: Shouting as Feminine Disruption, Public Ecstasy, and Audio-Visual Pleasure–Shakira Holt

One Year Later

Last year, during open access week, the Radical Open Access Collective re-launched with a new website, a directory of academic-led presses and an information platform for OA (book) publishing. We would like to share with you some of ROAC’s highlights for this year. Let us know if we’ve missed something or if there is anything you would like to add to this overview.

    • The Radical OA Collective grew its membership substantially: at our launch in October last year we had 25+ members, our community now consists of 54 members, Open Access in Media Studies being the latest to join!
    • For Radical OA II we published 7 pamphlets, available during the conference in both print and OA, covering topics such as Metrics Noir, Competition and Collaboration and the Geopolitics of Open. Each pamphlet was edited by a ROAC member or affiliate. The OA versions of the pamphlets are available on the Humanities Commons platform here: https://hcommons.org/deposits/?facets[author_facet][]=Post+Office+Press
    • We presented the ROAC at a number of conferences, including: COASP (Vienna), Digital Cultures (Lüneburg), Crossroads in Cultural Studies (Shanghai), OA Monographs (UUK, London), NECS Post-conference: Open Media Studies(Hilversum), Radical Open Access II (Coventry), Beyond APCs Open Aire workshop (The Hague), Open Access Tage (Dresden)
    • The ScholarLed Consortium was formed by 6 members of the ROAC pooling skills and resources to develop open infrastructure, tools, workflows and processes for OA publishing: https://scholarled.org/
    • We organised a bookstand together with our friends from ScholarLed which was set up at the 2nd Radical OA Conference in Coventry and at Crossroads in Cultural Studies in Shanghai. In Coventry we ran 2 short talks alongside the bookstand, and in Shanghai we organised a round table on OA publishing in Cultural Studies.
  • Looking forward, we hope to continue to welcome new members to the collective and develop our suite of tools to encourage and support others to start their own publishing projects. If you run a not-for-profit OA publishing initiative or are interested in starting your own scholar-led publishing project, we encourage you to join the Radical OA mailing list and get involved with the discussion!

    About the ROAC

    Formed in 2015, the Radical OA Collective is a community of scholar-led, not-for-profit presses, journals and other open access projects in the humanities and social sciences. We represent an alternative open access ecosystem and seek to create a different future for open access, one based on experimenting with not-for-profit, scholar-led approaches to publishing. You can read more about the philosophy behind the collective here: https://radicaloa.co.uk/philosophy/

    As a collective, we offer mutual reliance and support for each other’s projects by sharing the knowledge and resources we have acquired. Through our projects we also aim to provide advice, support and encouragement to academics and other not-for-profit entities interested in setting up their own publishing initiatives. Our website contains a Directory of academic-led presses, which showcases the breadth and rich diversity in scholar-led presses currently operating in an international context and across numerous fields, and an Information Portal with links to resources on funding opportunities for open access books, open source publishing tools, guidelines on editing standards, ethical publishing and diversity in publishing, and OA literature useful to not-for-profit publishing endeavours.

Further Reading

Further Reading

This blog post is part of a series for academics who want to find out more about Open Access. Click here for the other posts.

Photo by William on Unsplash

Further Reading

An excellent Open Access quiz that covers many of the key issues https://www.lepublikateur.de/2018/08/27/open-access-quiz/ A recently-released film about Open Access in academia, ‘Paywall: The Business of Scholarship’ https://paywallthemovie.com/ An introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/overview.htm A set of Open … Continue reading

Reputation, reputation, reputation – quality control and reward systems

Reputation, reputation, reputation – quality control and reward systems

In the past, Open Access publishing has been accused of being akin to vanity publishing or self-publishing, while the term ‘predatory publishing’ describes a phenomenon in which a publisher charges expensive fees for guaranteed publication while failing to provide peer review or even basic editing.[1]

Reputable Open Access publishers clearly advertise their quality-control systems. For example at OBP we emphasise our rigorous peer-review system, as well as the high standard of our editing and production work – and this is evident in our publications, which are easy to check precisely because they are Open Access. Meanwhile the well-established publishers who produce Open Access work, such as Cambridge University Press, do not throw their quality control out of the window when they publish books or articles on an Open Access basis.[2] Continue reading "Reputation, reputation, reputation – quality control and reward systems"

Copyright and licensing – what do I need to know?

Copyright and licensing – what do I need to know?

When you create original work, you possess the copyright.[1] When you wish to publish that work, some publishers might ask you to sign the copyright over to them as a condition of publication, so that they can disseminate the work exclusively and therefore maximise its profitability. However, you do not have to agree to this – you can ask to retain copyright, or to transfer only a limited number of your rights to the publisher.

Pay attention to the contract the publisher is asking you to sign, make sure you understand it, and negotiate if you are unhappy with any of the terms. Be aware that signing away exclusive rights to the publisher might mean that you are not able to republish the work yourself in future, if for example you wish to republish a journal article as a chapter in a book. Continue reading "Copyright and licensing – what do I need to know?"