Alan Kirby’s Digimodernism: Digi See That Coming? (And Digi See What I Did There?)

In the chapter of his book on digimodernism entitled “The Digimodernist Text,” Alan Kirby divides the organization of his ideas into three main categories: first, the definition of digimodernism and an overview of its recognizable features to create a classification system for digimodernist texts; second, the discussion and critique of proto-digimodernist theories by multiple scholars, most of which Kirby challenges due to exaggeration or inadequacy; and third, a review of common vocabulary and the changes it must undergo to be applied to digimodernist texts correctly, with a in-depth focus on several terms, such as reader, author, viewer, user, and publisher.

Throughout the chapter are many complex arguments regarding digimodernism, but particularly in the last section mentioned above, two arguments stood out to me from among the rest: Kirby’s criticism of the notion that we are experiencing a publishing revolution (and that in reality this revolution is more of a loss of prestige regarding the publishing industry itself) and his attestation that those who are fond of saying something along the lines of “Kids these days don’t read!” are attempting to preserve that prestige that publishing once had. Kirby’s thoughts on the changing nature of the word “publishing” interested me because as an aspiring author I’ve thought many times about the medium I might use to publish my writing in the future. Do I go with the so-called “traditional” route and query a publishing company? Or do I take my chances with self-publishing and put my writing into the world of Amazon and e-books? From my experience talking with authors, it seems that more respect is afforded to the latter grain of author when the same amount of work (and perhaps even more) goes into self-publishing. This is how digimodernism has changed the world of the text. Based on what Kirby has observed, when anyone can write anything, how can writers regain the prestige that has been removed from publishing, either online or offline? Unfortunately, the honest answer is that they can’t; the prestige is gone.

Authors can only try to adapt to the changing meaning of the word publishing and embrace its doubleness while taking steps forward.

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