19 March 2010

Reframing "The Future of Publishing"

One of the largest challenges for any business, industry, or market is to overcome one's own biases and internal logic. We are all products of our own discourses, and are especially sensitive to the dominant discourse in any field. In other words, when it comes to systems that involve human interactions, we both make it up as we go along, and tend to (either tacitly or explicitly) agree with what the other guy or gal sees. It's the Emperor's sartorial splendour writ large, more or less. (Karl Weick has lots to say about vesting in the sense we make, and John Ionnidis, as well as Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar, describe how science really isn't all that scientific. Yep, make it up, follow the other guy, get the funding...)

So, it heartens me to see this clever bit of internal - and now external - marketing from publisher Penguin in the UK, that focuses on truly thinking through the effects of imposing a well-trodden, but not necessarily true, line of argument that supposes a very particular causal logic to a seemingly inevitable conclusion. But, step out of simplistic, linear causality, consider the juxtaposition of very different and diverse contexts and ways of understanding the world, and the conclusion is not quite as forgone as vested self-interests would have us believe. This is truly a gem!

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