Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy is a book by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication at the. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, forthcoming from NYU Press. Kathleen Fitzpatrick. Profile: Director of Scholarly Communication Modern Language Association; Website: ; Email.

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The book is divided into five chapters, not including the introduction and conclusion: Fitzpatrick starts the book by deconstructing one of the most important steps in the academic publication process – peer review.

Drawing on a wide-ranging history of and problems in the process of academic peer review, she argues that much of the peer review obsoledcence is about credentialing rather than about encouraging good ideas.

Planned Obsolescence (book) – Wikipedia

She uses MediaCommons as an example of a community-filtered web platform that can function as a site to comment on a draft of scholarly work. With digital publishing, Fiztpatrick envisions a shift in the accepted conception of authorship from a solitary enterprise with a definite endpoint in the creation of the text to one of writing within a community as part of an ongoing process.

This change is a result of the capabilities of word processing, which allows for the obslescence and simple revision of text, and the digital networking, which enables linking, reader commentary, and version control.

By releasing text to be read and commented upon online authorship becomes ongoing, process-oriented work taking place in kaathleen community of interested readers.

Another aspect of community or collective authorship that Fitzpatrick explores is related to remix culture. She proposes a possible model of scholarly writing that collects and compiles work in illuminating ways. To be viable, this plabned require institutional acknowledgement that this kind of work is as lbsolescence as the traditional scholarly monograph, and also the participation of the scholarly community in a gift economy with their work.

She suggests that scholars use a Creative Commons license for scholarly work to facilitate the use and reuse of material for the collective benefit of the community. Fitzpatrick acknowledges that online writing, and particularly the use of platforms planhed enable reader comments, will require authors to develop a different relationship to their work.

They must be committed to supporting online discussions without dominating them, and they must accept that this will increase the amount of time that they must invest in their writing, both because online discussions require regular participation and because their duration is indeterminate. For Fitzpatrick, blogshypertextand databases suggest kathledn in which digital scholarly publishing might move. Fitzpatrick continues to develop her ideas of the importance of community with an analysis of digital text preservation in which she proposes that current technical issues with digital text preservation will require social solutions.


It is often assumed that issues with digital preservation are due to the ephemeral quality of digital artifacts. Fitzpatrick points out that this is not entirely correct, illustrating that print text is by no means permanent and digital text is far plannef permanent than planndd commonly thought. The loss of access to digital texts or their interpretability, sometimes due to incompatibility between older media formats and newer platforms, is mistakenly perceived as the loss of digital texts themselves.

In addition to focusing on the development of preservation practices through community organization, Fitzpatrick argues that creators of digital artifacts must take steps to ensure the compatibility of their work olanned preservation efforts, stating: In addition to community cooperation and coordination, Fitzpatrick shows that the incorporation of open standards and fitzpatricm extensibility are crucial to the development of successful digital text preservation practices.

Included in these practices are three key components: To support her argument for social solutions, Fitzpatrick examines several successful projects concerned with the development of text markup, metadata, and access standards and practices including TEIDOIand LOCKSS and shows that each is based in the creation of a community organization that values openness and extensibility.

At the heart of scholarly text production, preservation, and dissemination lies the university. In a time of unfavorable economic conditions, Fitzpatrick suggests that the university may continue to fulfill its role in these endeavors only by rethinking its mission and repurposing its operational units. Fitzpatrick attributes the recent trend of shuttering university presses to shrinking university budgets and the unsustainable business models in which many presses are forced to operate.

Universities must recognize that their mission is, in addition to the production of knowledge, the communication of knowledge. Fitzpatrick conceptualizes scholarship as an ongoing conversation between scholars that can only continue if participants have the means to contribute to it. Publishing and disseminating information via the university press is one possible mode of communication.

If the university is reimagined as a center of communication, rather than principally as a credential-bestowing organization, its central mission becomes the production and dissemination of scholarly work. In this rethinking, the press has a future as the knowledge-disseminating organ of the university. Obsolescencd this to happen, the pkanned must be integrated within the university and be provided sufficient funding so that its mission is not financially based but, rather, aligns with that of the university.

Following this restructuring, Fitzpatrick suggests that the mission of the university may be further strengthened by creating new partnerships and modes of operation between the university librarythe IT department, and the university press. As argued throughout the book, scholarly publishing in its current as well as future forms stands to benefit from various forms of cooperation and each fitzpwtrick these units may contribute something unique to enhance the production of scholarly work.


These new interactions may lead to roles for the library, the press, and IT as service units that provide guidance during and add value to the scholarly production process. Lastly, Fitzpatrick suggests that these shifting locations and roles of the university press may remove the financial concerns previously restricting their abilities to experiment with new modes of ogsolescence, perhaps allowing presses to explore alternative, more sustainable and open publishing kathlen, including open access publishing.

Two years before publication Planned Obsolescence was openly peer-reviewed online at MediaCommons Press. Putting up a draft manuscript of the book up for open public review and debate allowed Fitzpatrick to demonstrate one of the key points of the obsolscence – that scholars have a lot to gain from openly sharing their work on digital platforms, and that open debates should become a part of the publishing process itself.

Project MUSE – Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence has been reviewed or discussed in a number of publications by a range of writers. Critics have written positively on Fitzpatrick’s treatment of authorship.

Houman Barekat in the Obsopescence Angeles Review of Books described Fitzpatrick’s reluctance to understand authorship as an effect of technologies and processes of production as “a sobering antidote to the vulgar technological determinism that characterizes so much of the hype around the digital revolution. Fitzpatrick’s exploration of academic peer review has received less favorable criticism.

In particular, her critique of the traditional mores of academic publication, whereby texts are first reviewed by colleagues and only published if they meet certain criteria, lacks clear “requirements for a proposed alternative system”.

One reviewer deemed her proposal “riddled with flaws”, [14] while another reviewer commended the public scholarship potential of such an open method. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Planned Obsolescence Original 1st edition cover.

Publishing, Technology and the Future of the Academy 1st ed.

Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 16 March Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy”.

Planned Obsolescence

Publishing, technology, and the future of the academy. Retrieved 19 March Retrieved 2 April Retrieved from ” https: Pages to import images to Wikidata.

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