Publishing

distribution, aggregation, attention economy

Making something public used to require production and distribution at a scale that wasn't available ordinary people. It involved multiple companies working with an array of specialized technicians to produce and ship discrete physical objects. Things have changed.

Publication is now digital by default. This goes for most physical books and newspapers, which are often electronically encoded right up until the moment they come off a digital press. But more importantly the media of publication have also become ephemeral and decentralized. Making something widely available is now so easy it can be done accidentally.

The forms of publication also continue to get more rapid fire and short form while not necessarily curtailing complex discussion or thought. At one time not so long ago crafting a website or in electronic document was seen as less serious and thoughtful and crafting a printed book. And then posting to a blog was seen as less serious and thoughtful in crafting a complete electronic work as a whole. And then posting to Twitter was seen as less serious and thoughtful that posting to a blog. But while the form of publication changes, ideas are still being generated. Twitter posts can be threaded into thoughtful essays, blog posts can be threaded into thoughtful books.

The structures of these publications encourage different types of thinking, and also meet those types of thinking where they are. In some ways this can be a simplification or fragmentation, but another's is a broadening of the modes of attention that can be addressed by publication and complex law. Like printing a book, creating a website was once a specialize activities, difficult and time-consuming. But now printing and web publishing are widely available to anyone.

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