"Out of Print: The Orphans of Mass Digitization"

Mary Murrell has published "Out of Print: The Orphans of Mass Digitization" in Current Anthropology.

Here's an excerpt:

In the 2000s an interconnected set of elite projects in the United States sought to digitize "all books in all languages" and make them available online. These mass digitization projects were efforts to absorb the print book infrastructure into a new one centered in computer networks. Mass book digitization has now faded from view, and here I trace its setbacks through a curious figure—the "orphan"—that emerged from within these projects and acted ultimately as an agent of impasse. In legal policy debates, an "orphan" refers to a copyrighted work whose owner cannot be found, but its history, range of meanings, and deployments reveal it to be considerably more complex. Based on fieldwork conducted at a digital library engaged in mass digitization, this paper analyzes the "orphan" as a personifying metaphor that digital library activists embraced in order to challenge and/or disrupt the social relations that adhere in and around books.

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.