Imagine there’s no audit. It might be easy if we try.
Are audit culture and performance management suffocating research in the humanities, rather than energising it? Are they pushing the work of publication toward an emphasis on pressured writing, ranking, measuring citations and h-indexes and so on? Does anyone actually read the work of others anymore, or are they just too busy publishing their own more immediate thoughts in order not to perish. Is publishing an encouragement to think, or to engagement with the community of scholars and beyond, or it is just a matter of scoring points for interested parties? Does audit work against inventiveness in publishing? Does it especially work against open access and online publishing? Does audit, ironically, take the “communication” and even sometimes the “scholarly” out of scholarly communication? Is research audit dehumanising research in the humanities? More people I talk to these days seem to be asking questions such as these.
This is perhaps not the place to rehearse the arguments involved in any detail. I and others have done this elsewhere, and there are no doubt many corridor conversations each day on the topic. Indeed, it might be best to move on from such questions. It is perhaps time to reflect on how things might be different if we were to live in a world without research audit (and it would have to be “we”, collectively, that attempted to move beyond audit). How might research itself change? How might publication change? How might the world change? After reflection might come collective action, at the least some collective acts of refusal of audit. Then we could perhaps get on with building the new world of research and scholarly communication that beckons. It might be easy if we try.
The Fibreculture Journal is trying to do its part. The journal has had an interesting year behind the scenes, much of the fruit of which will be presented to the world in 2015. In the meantime, we had a very pleasing response to our call for papers for this general issue on digital and networked media. Even not being able to accommodate two-thirds of the abstracts we received, we have ended up with two to three issues. Unfortunately we can only present this issue in 2014, but there will be another two issues early in 2015.
In this issue we present four articles. We also present ‘Posthumanism, Technogenesis, and Digital Technologies’, an interview by Holger Pötzsch with one of the most important scholars of contemporary media and technology, N. Katherine Hayles. She discusses the entire arc of her research, including her recent research on nonconscious cognition. In the first of the articles, ‘Do objects dream of an internet of things?’, Teodor Mitew discusses what he calls ‘heteroclite sociable objects in the context of the emerging internet of things’ as a way of understanding the new kinds of sociality formed by the new networks of objects. In ‘Mapping Moving-Image Culture: Topographical Interface and YouTube’, Stephen Monteiro discusses the ‘cartographic and topographical aesthetics of digital interface and network navigation’ of YouTube’s post-Cosmic Panda redesign. In ‘Challenging Hate Speech With Facebook Flarf: The Role of User Practices in Regulating Hate Speech on Facebook’ Benjamin Abraham discusses a wonderfully clever and idiosyncratic example of resistance to hate speech. It is revealing of wider trends and possibilities with regard to this increasingly vexing problem. Finally, in ‘Expectations denied: Fan and industry conflict around the localisation of the Japanese video game Yakuza 3’, Craig Norris addresses the complex issues that arise when fans who feel they own a game are disappointed with its translation from one cultural context to another.
We hope you enjoy issue 23 of the Fibreculture Journal.