Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Self-cencorship and authorial power
Technology Review - Blog This
Henry Jenkins has had the word "cockroach" removed from his article on blogging, and according to Elin he claims it was put in there by an editor:

The one thing that bums me is that many of them seem to have picked up on the short summary of the essay, written by an unsympathetic editor, who refers to bloggers as "cockroaches" rather than reading the essay itself, which is much much more supportive.

This is very interesting. Henry Jenkins has exercised the power to edit the article after it has been published, which the net gives him. Rather than having to pull in 5000 copies, he can have the editor in question (who has most likely been told what Jenkins feels about editors taking liberties with his writing, a classic struggle of authorial and editorial power) wipe every trace of the offending cockroaches - digital pest-control in a miniature way.

Now it looks like the insects only existed in our imagination. This creates a neat little dilemma for Jill and me. Since we used the text as it was originally published in our article, some of the edge of the quote is gone, and we might even be accused of misquoting Henry Jenkins, who has attempted to change history. He has changed the column in which he writes this: "Once this column appears, my authorial control ends and theirs begins. As these words move through various contexts, they assume new associations and face direct challenges, but they also gain broader circulation."

Henry Jenkins works very hard at keeping authorial control beyond the appearance of the column. The problem is that he wants to do so in a medium which is supposed to be reliable. A weblog is fluid, changing, active - an online journal or magazine is supposed to be reliable and retain the constant nature of print in the fluid medium of pixels. I do what Henry Jenkins did several times a day, it's the nature of blogging that it's easy to modify the text. Or perhaps not...

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