Textual curators and writing machines: Authorial agency in encyclopedias, print to digital

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Textual curators and writing machines: Authorial agency in encyclopedias, print to digital is a 2009 doctoral thesis written in English by K. Kennedy and published in University of Minnesota.

[edit] Abstract

Wikipedia is often discussed as the first of its kind: the first massively collaborative, Web-based encyclopedia that belongs to the public domain. While it's true that wiki technology enables large-scale, distributed collaborations in revolutionary ways, the concept of a collaborative encyclopedia is not new, and neither is the idea that private ownership might not apply to such documents. More than 275 years ago, in the preface to the 1728 edition of his Cyclop?dia , Ephraim Chambers mused on the intensely collaborative nature of the volumes he was about to publish. His thoughts were remarkably similar to contemporary intellectual property arguments for Wikipedia , and while the composition processes involved in producing these texts are influenced by the available technologies, they are also unexpectedly similar. This dissertation examines issues of authorial agency in these two texts and shows that the {Author} Construct" is not static across eras genres or textual technologies. In contrast to traditional considerations of the poetic author the encyclopedic author demonstrates a different form of authorial agency that operates within strict genre conventions and does not place a premium on originality. This and related variations challenge contemporary ideas concerning the divide between print and digital authorship as well as the notion that new media intellectual property arguments are without historical precedent."

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