November 5, 2006


by Scott Rettberg · , 9:47 am

This week Ben Vershbow from the Institute for the Future of the Book passed along some news about the MediaCommons project. MediaCommons is a project in development for the past couple of years by Kathleen Fitzpatrick and others to start a born-digital scholarly press focused on media studies. At its core, MediaCommons will be a social networking site where academics, students, and other interested members of the public can write and critically converse about a mediated world, in a mediated environment. The site is intended to connect scholars, producers, lobbyists, activists, critics, fans, and consumers in a wide-ranging, critically engaged conversation that is highly visible to the public. At the same time, MediaCommons will be a full-fledged electronic press dedicated to the development of born-digital scholarship: multimedia “papers,” journals, Gamer Theory-style monographs, and many other forms yet to be invented.

The MediaCommons site launched this week has three parts:

1) A weblog where founding editors Avi Santo (Old Dominion U.) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Pomona College) will think out loud and work with the emerging community to develop the full MediaCommons vision.

2) A call for “papers” — scholarly projects that engagingly explore some aspect of media history, theory, or culture through an adventurous use of the broad palette of technologies provided by the digital network, to be the first projects published by the MediaCommons network.

3) “In Media Res” — an experimental feature where each week a different scholar will present a short contemporary media clip accompanied by a 100-150 word commentary, alongside which a community discussion can take place, a sort of a “YouTube” for scholars and a critically engaged public. The first guest critic is Henry Jenkins, analyzing a clip from the popular “Heroes” TV series.

Like the Electronic Literature Collection, Media Commons is an exciting and well-developed scholarly project that will make compelling new ideas available to the public in ways that they can be easily shared in the global network environment. The project is supported by the MacArthur Foundation and the Annenberg Center for Communication at USC.

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