Beautiful Machines: Editing for a New Age

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ALEXIS EASLEY

Those of us with the new books, the ones made out of electronic paper that can transform into other books in our hands, will browse for a while and then perhaps, if we happen to be carrying our new books with us, pay for and download the volumes we want to buy. Or perhaps we’ll buy books on a volume the size of a flash drive, to be downloaded to our new books when we get home later. And then we’ll sit in parks and subways and on sofas, the same as we have since the invention of the printing press, and we’ll flip through the pages of our beautiful machines.  — Emily St. John Mandel, “The Chameleon Machine,” 2011

Many writers and media theorists have predicted that new digital publishing technologies will soon make printed books and periodicals obsolete. What does this mean for the work of editors? When printed texts are converted to digital formats, what is gained and what is lost? How will new digital textualities (e.g., multi-modal texts, online journals, and digital libraries) affect the work of editors, who have traditionally relied on the material text as an object of art and a commodity? How will our editorial choices affect language use and literacy practices? And what is the future of peer review in digital environments? This blog will address these and many other questions faced by editors as they facilitate the production of texts for a new generation of readers.

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