I have had a fascination with publishing and its potential most of my life, so much so that I was Head of Art for a small publishing company for nearly four years alongside my teaching commitments. I am very interested in the new space opened up by the advent of digital publishing and all of the new business models that are emerging.
It could be argued that everything nowadays is publishing: the social streams in which we document every part of our lives for a variety of audiences as well as our blogs. We need to be careful about what we write in these digital spaces as we are just as responsible for the comments we make, defamatory statements or intellectual property infringement as the traditional and mainstream press. As Alex Newson with Deryck Houghton and Justin Patten point out, we can’t cite ignorance of these laws as our defense. Even high profile comedian Alan Davies had to pay £15,000 in damages to Lord McAlpine to settle a libel action over a tweet relating to false child sex abuse allegations in 2013. We are all fast becoming published authors, even if we are not very good ones.
It was with this interest and an awareness of the published nature of our modern lives that I went to Mix03. Co organised by one of our key Creative Conversations The New Space of Publishing speakers, Kate Pullinger, the Mix Digital Conference at Bath Spa was held over 3 days and explored the various worlds of publishing looking at transmedia, ambient literature, reader participation, moving from analogue to digital, pedagogy, interactive forms and digital poetry to mention only a few areas.
Mix03 had speakers that explore and innovate in this fast growing sector. I was able to listen to exciting key note speakers, such as award winning novelist and game creator Naomi Alderman, Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen of Visual Editions and Ju Row Farr from Blast Theory. There were also interesting projects presented such as Colin Thomas’s Making Digital History and Claudio Pires Franco‘s research on new media forms of the book: both experimenting with the more interactive components in the digital publishing space.
It is the copyright laws, and their relationship with fan fiction and participatory writing projects that I find particularly interesting and while not under the remit of this conference, as it was more experimental and creative, they have an impact on all of us amateur journalists/authors/commentators/artists. In particular Fan Fiction as described by Ciaran Roberts has interesting and complex issues around copyright. For experimental participatory writing projects such as Sarah Haynes’ The Memory Store mutual respect and recognition is a pre-requisite as the project requires participation in order for it to evolve ‘Participatory projects are about both process and product.’ and so the copyright laws need to evolve in order to protect and not hinder these new projects and participants.
The great joy of such conferences is not only to meet like minded people but also to meet people that have a viewpoint at odds with your own, or come at a subject from an entirely different angle. This allows you to reflect and think more deeply about your subject. For me new collaborations and new projects were sparked and new ways to think about existing projects were suggested. I came away feeling wonderfully invigorated, as though my brain had taken a much needed holiday to somewhere new and exciting. It is a conference that I would heartily recommend and I will be booking myself in for next year’s when the option arises.