On “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts,” by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

On “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts,” by Kathleen Fitzpatrick

In “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts,” Kathleen Fitzpatrick suggests that electronic publishing should reproduce the organization and structure of the print book, rather than take a skuemorphic approach that mimics the look of the book, and instead of employing more radical, disorienting approaches. To do so, Fitzpatrick offers Commentpress as a potential option, a WordPress theme that allows for side-by-side commenting on academic texts. She argues that by using a platform like Commentpress, one can return to a more social mode of reading, where readers also engage in a form of writing (via commenting), and all present are undertaking in collaborative, social knowledge creation. Fitzpatrick walks through the benefits of this Web 2.0 mode, especially compared to other electronic publishing experiments like excessive hypertext, which Fitzpatrick considers to be confusing and agency-diminishing for readers who have to guess at the author’s intention and cannot develop a sense of the whole piece at any one point. By contrast, projects developed by the Institute for the Future of the Book (including SocialBook and Commentpress), offer a more linear reading experience with the added benefit of public commenting.

Work cited
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. 2007. “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 10(3): n.p.

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